The holiday season marks one of the most busy and exciting times of the year for families and businesses. Restaurant sales can increase significantly during the final months of the year, so it’s important to make sure you and your staff are adequately prepared.

Here are a few tips to help you plan for a smooth and profitable holiday season:

Hire well in advance

More business means more work, and many restaurants find they require additional help during the holiday season. Hiring temporary employees in advance can help you maintain your usual standard of customer service; and it will also prevent your current employees from becoming overworked.

You don’t want to put off seasonal hiring until the last minute. Beginning your search as early as possible will give you plenty of time to train your new employees and allow them to get acclimated before the chaos of the holiday rush.

Pay attention to past data when deciding how many people to hire

The best way to prepare for the holiday season and figure out how much additional help your restaurant operations will need is to look at your staffing and sales records from past years. For example, were there certain days or weeks you were particularly short-staffed last year? Were there days you experienced overstaffing? Did you have enough servers but not enough people in the kitchen?

Using data from past years will help make sure you have the right number of employees scheduled during the times you really need them.

Set up time-off rules well in advance

Communication is key, and this is especially true during the holidays. You’ll want to make sure you give your employees plenty of advance notice when it comes to blackout dates, time off, and any rules you have about swapping or trading shifts.

Establishing your holiday staffing rules well in advance will make things easier on both you and your employees. It will help you plan for the busy season; and it will also allow your employees to make the most of their days off.

Implement a strong training process to ensure smooth sailing

Although seasonal employees may be temporary hires, they’ll be representing your business the same way your full-time staff does, so it’s important not to cut any corners when it comes to training them.

One of the best things you can do is to ask your more experienced employees to help train and mentor your seasonal ones. Not only will this help new hires get acclimated, but it will also aid in team building; and help make sure everyone works well together.

Set goals for your staff to keep things fun and profitable

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, including your employees. This is especially true if you’re asking them to work long or inconvenient hours. Do what you can to keep things light and fun.

For example, consider setting up a competition between the day and night shifts to see who can sell the most seasonal specials. You may even choose to provide a reward to the winners (like holiday concert tickets or a gift certificate).

There’s a lot to look forward to and plan for during the holiday season. It’s a chance to grow your business; bond with your existing employees; and bring in new people to lend a helping hand. The best thing you can do for both you and your staff is to plan ahead and keep a positive attitude!

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