While the holiday season can bring a temporary surge in sales and customers, especially if your business hosts private parties, the post-holiday season can be a restaurant’s slowest period. Cold and unforgiving weather discourages diners from venturing out, and many regular patrons opt to save money by cooking at home, viewing January and February as a prime time for frugality. Additionally, restaurants frequently grapple with the impact of the cold and flu season, as staff members, including servers and cooks, may call in sick.
Here's the silver lining: even during the slowest months, profitability is attainable. In fact, these quieter periods offer a golden opportunity for business planning, enabling you to start the new year with a sense of tranquility and authority. This article aims to provide you with valuable tips to position both you and your staff for success in 2024. By implementing these strategies now, you can not only navigate the challenges of the off-season but also set a solid foundation for growth and prosperity 365 days a year.
1. Use the end of the year as a way to boost team morale
The fall months can be particularly demanding on the hospitality industry, leaving everyone in need of a well-deserved break as the year comes to a close. Boosting team morale during this time is crucial, and you can achieve this through various means, such as offering bonuses, recognition awards, additional days off, and other incentives. For instance, consider closing the restaurant early for a special team holiday party or providing an extra bonus on employee paychecks.
Recognizing the dedication and hard work of your restaurant's team during this challenging period can have a profound impact on morale, setting the stage for a successful year ahead. These gestures not only offer much-needed respite but also foster camaraderie and motivation. They ensure that when your team returns to work in the new year, they do so with a renewed sense of energy and commitment, ready to contribute to your restaurant's ongoing success.
2. Plan ahead for staffing needs in the new year
The persistent labor shortage in the restaurant industry has exacerbated hiring challenges, with fewer job applicants and high turnover rates plaguing establishments. A staggering 62% of restaurant owners find themselves grappling with inadequate staff levels to meet customer demand, while 8 in 10 managers struggle to fill job openings.
As you engage in your end-of-year business planning, anticipate that you’ll need to work harder to recruit restaurant employees in the new year. Remember to foster the relationships with your seasonal hires as well. While many high school and college students that joined you during your holiday break need to head back to school, they can still be a strong potential talent pool during the spring and summer holidays.
Attracting exceptional talent begins with the art of crafting job postings that stand out amidst fierce competition. These postings should transcend mere lists of job requirements and responsibilities; they should serve as compelling invitations to join a dynamic team and contribute to the restaurant's success story. To elevate the appeal of your job postings, consider implementing the following HR and hiring strategies for 2024:
- Showcase your restaurant's culture: Highlight what sets your restaurant apart from others. Describe your restaurant's values, mission, and the unique atmosphere that employees can expect. Potential candidates should get a sense of the welcoming and dynamic environment they'll be part of.
- Emphasize opportunities for growth: Today's job seekers are often looking for more than just a paycheck; they seek opportunities for professional development. Detail how your restaurant invests in employee growth, whether through culinary training, leadership programs, or cross-functional experiences.
- Competitive compensation and benefits: In an increasingly competitive job market, it's crucial to offer competitive wages and benefits. Clearly outline the compensation package, including any bonuses or incentives such as instant tips and wages.
- Employee testimonials: Consider incorporating testimonials or success stories from current or former employees. Real-life accounts of positive experiences can be persuasive and help candidates envision themselves as part of your team.
3. Re-evaluate your payment processes
Employee turnover costs restaurants an average of $150,000 every year. In addition to thinking ahead to how you’ll recruit new team members, make sure a large part of your focus is on retaining your existing employees.
Payment processes play a pivotal role in your talent retention strategy. The speed and ease with which you can disburse tips, wages, and other reimbursements are critical factors in retaining talent and maintaining operational efficiency. Efficient payment processing and quick mileage reimbursement become even more valuable during the colder months when there is a significant surge in delivery orders.
If you haven't already, consider implementing a tool like Branch, which enables instant, cashless payouts of tips, mileage reimbursements, and other one-off payments to employees after each shift. Embracing digital tip payouts not only helps you remain competitive in the local job market but also streamlines payroll processes, reducing time and costs significantly.
As you head into 2024, these proactive strategies can help to boost team morale, address staffing needs, and streamline payment processes. Together with a motivated and dedicated team, you can set the stage for a year of continued success, innovation, and exceptional dining experiences for your patrons.