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Best Practices for Restaurant Scheduling During the Holidays

During the holidays, there is an abundance of marketing messages that try to convince us, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While getting together with your loved ones, preparing and eating food, or going out to celebrate your version of holiday cheer is fun, it’s also stressful. But for those of us that work in the hospitality industry during the holidays, it’s a particularly busy and frantic time, as we work to provide excellent service to customers. Let’s look at how restaurants can ramp up for the holiday season and improve their efforts to meet customer demands during a very busy time.

On the Go Food Ordering

Restaurants often struggle with scheduling during the holiday season. Customers that call for reservations may not even get in or will experience a long wait, which no one likes or needs. This impacts those customers that call to place a pick-up order. Your harried front of house staff should be dealing with the waiting on-site customers, but instead may get stuck on the phone as remote customers call in. Is there a better way?

Instead of giving your customers a reason to complain, why not give them an alternative way to order? Online and mobile food delivery is a great way to improve the convenience of your customer experience. The big benefit is the time it saves for your host team or others in the front of the house trying to service those on-site. All that time that you save on the phone can now be devoted to improving operational efficiency. Order entry will likely improve, too, because we’ve all gotten phone orders wrong during busy times because we can’t hear or are too preoccupied. Just make certain you let customers know that they have an alternative to a phone call. Some promotion suggestions include:

  • Adding a flyer to outgoing pick-up orders
  • You can draw attention to this option by offering discounts for online delivery
  • If you have hold music on your phone, add an advertisement for online ordering
  • Put up signs in your facility

Another way to improve the holiday scheduling conundrum is to encourage catering orders to come in well before the holiday sets in. Every restaurant manager knows how important it is to get these orders solidified early. Catering orders bring in lots of cash, but they also require a lot of coordination and planning.

One tip for improving the catering process during the holidays is to incentivize customers to get their orders in early. You can do this by providing a small discount depending on when the orders come in. For example, if the order comes in two weeks early, give them 10% off, but at one week early, knock it back to 5%. Most of your customers will want that discount and you should advertise it as part of your general catering package. Your kitchen staff will thank you for any extra heads up – especially during the busy holiday season.

While these are just a few examples, one of the best ways to improve holiday scheduling is to staff up. Gecko Hospitality can help you by finding solid employees to help you succeed during the busy seasons – or for any time. Contact our expert hospitality recruiters for more information.


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