It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, with the Holidays driving significant revenues for restaurants. But with today’s labour shortage, the upcoming festive season is causing a lot of headaches for restaurateurs as they try to continue offering the best dining experience their customers have come to expect. 

While most restaurants have tried to secure their employees for the holiday season as well as the weeks ramping up to Christmas and New Year’s by the beginning of October, there are still other ways to prepare for the road ahead.

Here are some tips to maximizing revenues from the Holidays–all while making do with less staff.

 

1. Promote your online ordering for delivery, takeout, and curbside pick-up even more

The reason? According to Restaurant Business, the most common vacancy for a restaurant is for the front-of-the-house staff (76% cashiers, 48% customer service).
Online ordering allows your limited front-line staff to work on more value-added tasks, like customer service, rather than taking orders, whether on-site, via the telephone, etc. If you don’t have a lot of waiters, this could be a viable option.

Offer great discounts or freebies for patrons to nudge them to use this sales channel instead of in-room dining. You can advertise in your restaurant, in the packaging you use for off-premise packaging, on social media, or through email newsletters and text messages.

 

2.Use automated, contactless tableside solutions

Find out if your online ordering platform offers contactless ordering and payment, like UEAT. This means your guests will access your menu via a QR code, order, and pay for their meals with their smartphones. These mobile “self-ordering kiosks” contribute to boosting waiter efficiency and eliminates the need for employees to constantly disinfect menus and terminals.


In addition, contactless ordering and payment solutions mean you can assign waiters to larger sections of your dining room. Less personnel, but with optimal coverage!

 

3.Consider limiting opening hours and dining times

It may sound counter-intuitive for margin-strapped restaurateurs, particularly post-pandemic, to curb the time patrons can actually access your business, but many entrepreneurs are taking a cold, hard look at their profitability per day and time of day when evaluating their opening hours.

For example, in many cities across North America, fine-dining restaurants are now closed for lunch, or from Monday to Wednesday.

Take a look at your numbers. Are there any periods where you are really just breaking even—or even losing money? Can you close during these times and use the money you saved to provide small bonuses to employees and entice them to take on longer or different shifts when there is heavy foot traffic?

 

4. Reduce your menu

You can mitigate pressure on your kitchen brigade by assessing what menu items fly out the most and provide the most bang for your buck. Are there any loss-leader or small-margin menu items that are not converting to the cash cows you had hoped for? Maybe some of your dishes are complex and require more time and experience from your back-of-the-house team.

Naturally, you don’t want to eliminate popular meals that have made your restaurant’s name. However, taking some items off your menu, even temporarily, gives your team more time to serve up the food that customers do crave. It is also a great opportunity to get your creative juices flowing for new menu ideas after the Holidays.

 

5. Focus on upselling

What does upselling have to do with readying your business for Christmas and New Year’s, all while being short-staffed? Whether it is with your online ordering solution that has an upselling module or training your on-premise waiters, remember that it is important to always be selling!

Boosting each average ticket size is a sure-fire approach to improving your margins. In turn, better margins can, in the mid-term, give you some financial leeway to offer small perks to your loyal, hard-working employees.

 

6. Ask customers for employee referrals

Think your “NOW HIRING” sign in your restaurant is necessarily grabbing people’s attention? Think again. Apart from standard recruitment strategies, like job boards and ads, you can ask your most loyal customers, for referrals.

While your best patrons know that there is a crying labour shortage, they perhaps don’t know its impact on your restaurant. Using social media or engaging with customers, you can encourage them to provide referrals for people they know who may be interested in seasonal or short-term work. Maybe they know of a lazy teen that needs to lay off video games or binge-streaming movies. Never underestimate the power of asking for help. If your die-hard fans know you are looking for employees, you may be surprised at how much they’ll step up to the plate!

 

While these top tips are not the panacea for eliminating the labour shortage your restaurant is facing, we hope that they can alleviate some of the stress. Good luck!

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