Hospitality operators are well accustomed to adapting to the many hats they must wear. At once an owner, a chef, an accountant, a procurement specialist, a bartender, a hotelier, etc., many prize their agility above all else. However, this approach lends itself to only hour by hour, day by day momentum. While business savants would like to believe the old adage, “Fortune favors the bold,” the hospitality industry is not driven by the brash. The only fortune you have is the one you make. Said more clearly by the Roman philosopher Seneca, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” What planning are you implementing now to best meet your future?
The optimized building block of this preparation is a rolling 90 days. This should allow you to properly account for seasonal trends and fluctuations. The execution of a successful plan involves 5 steps:
- Evaluating the current status and determining how the fluctuation impacts your business
- Discuss needs to manage the fluctuation
- Create a plan and communicate Areas of Responsibility (AOR’s)
- Monitor, Measure and Adjust
“While business savants would like to believe the old adage, ‘Fortune favors the bold,’ the hospitality industry is not driven by the brash. The only fortune you have is the one you make.”
Evaluating the Current Status and Determine how the Fluctuation Impacts your Business
Let’s turn this theoretical discussion into a practical one by looking ahead to the fall season. It all starts with understanding the business trends including sales trends, staffing needs, supplies, tools, repairs, and customer habits. Most restaurants will see a shift in their traffic as they enter September known as “September Watch” due to changing dining trends. These changes will likely include:
- Slower weekdays and busier weekends as opposed to the balanced weeks of the summer
- Earlier dinner times
- Decreased traffic and/or check averages due to school-related financial obligations
- Increased carry out demand to accommodate busier schedules
As the customer behaviors change, you have to adjust with it. How does Friday Night Lights or Football Saturdays impact your weekend business versus summer lunch parties? What are your customers looking for in a menu? September also presents a shift in the customer purchasing desires. For example, those summer-flavored lemonades might switch to pumpkin spice lattes, light summer beers might be replaced by fall lagers, and refreshing summer salads might be overtaken by comfort foods. Understanding these sweeping trends is essential for operator success.
Using tools like Craftable allows you to track previous behaviors and plan accordingly without sinking endless hours and ensures you are prepared for the opportunity. Through easy-to-read reports and process automation, Craftable clears confusion and illuminates potential avenues to profit.
Discuss Needs to Manage the Fluctuation
Now that you know what trends are coming, it’s time to decide how you’ll adjust your current approach. You’ll also need to look inward for changes in staffing and efficiency. These changes will depend on your specific concept, segment, and the season, but you can begin by answering these questions:
- What changes need to be made to the menu including any Limited Time Offers (LTO’s)?
- What new supplies might you need for any LTO’s and what training is needed to ensure proper execution of the LTO’s?
- Have you communicated those changes to your vendors?
- What purchasing changes do you need to make to reduce waste and keep products stocked?
- Have you spoken with the beer vendors to ensure you have your allotment of seasonal Drafts?
- How do you leverage your profit on the changes? (Be sure to check out our guides on Menu Engineering!)
- Are you staffed?
- How many employees want more hours versus how many are leaving for school or want to cut back hours?
- What does the staff scheduling look like to accommodate slower weekdays, but busier weekends and adjusted dinner rushes?
- What is the plan to train new hires, or cross train others to help manage increased carry out?
While these questions can feel overwhelming if you are used to taking things day by day, answering them routinely can help set the standard for future seasons and snag the profits otherwise left on the table.
Create a Plan and Communicate Areas of Responsibility (AOR’s)
Once you have discussed the fluctuation and needs, then lay out the AOR’s. Everyone should clearly understand their role in the preparation of the rolling 90 days. Remember to create goals that are SMART:
Creating a plan around the rolling 90 days and communicating them with your team helps keep them focused and organized on the objective. Setting these expectations will not only help you execute your plan, but measure your success in a meaningful way. This in turn will allow you to better plan in the future.
You’ve done all the planning and preparation. Now it’s time to see what a difference it makes! Hold yourself, and others, to the outline you’ve created, but don’t lose that sense of fast footwork. After all, those many hats won’t allow themselves to gather dust in the closet.
Monitor, Measure, and Adjust
Each week, reevaluate your progress/plan and layer in any additional fluctuations beyond the 90 days. Just as you have adjusted for “September Watch,” try to anticipate the trends in October with colder weather, more shifts in traffic, and the approach of the holiday season. Be sure to think beyond specials and staffing. For instance, have you contacted snow removal for the winter, or landscaping for the summer? What about re-stripping your lot? Or the R&M contacts like coil condenser cleaning? Did you plan for the Grease Trap to be pumped? Reacting versus planning will expose your business to high-risk problems with high-cost solutions. For instance, if the HVAC system goes down on a weekend due to poor planning for maintenance, not only have you damaged the customer experience, you will have also incurred an unexpected high cost off hours HVAC expense. The goal with proper planning is to minimize the risk. As they say, a failure to plan is a failure.
“Reacting versus planning will expose your business to high-risk problems with high-cost solutions.”
Planning for Success
Though the hospitality industry has a long history of taking things as they come, modern operators are forced to juggle too many variables and it is all too easy to get caught off guard. This could mean losing business in the moment and losing potential customers by not striking while the iron is hot.
Craftable delivers sharper insights and cleaner control by pulling your sales data from your POS along with purchases from your vendors and archiving all of it. Using that data, you can reflect upon past sales trends, internal purchasing habits, and customer purchasing habits to make educated planning decisions around the rolling 90 days. The Craftable Logbook also archives the historical sales data along with your weather and any customized note tab to track progress and results. In essence, we deliver strategy and save you time as you switch from being reactive to proactive.
So, when profit comes knocking on your door, will you be prepared to answer?