It’s that time of year: the days are getting cooler, leaves are changing colours, and the time to pack your patio furniture away is just around the corner. It’s fall.
It took heaps of planning and a lot of work to set your restaurant up for a successful summer, and now that it’s nearing an end, it’s time to get ready for the season ahead. While the sun and good weather often make summer the busiest time of year for restaurants, the cooler months bring a ton of business, too – as long as you prepare and are ready for it!
Here are five things you can do to get your restaurant ready for fall.
1. Prepare for staffing changes
Once September hits, many of your staff may be headed back-to-school. Others may be taking time off after the busy summer season to travel. Whatever the reason, the end of summer will undoubtedly mean big staffing changes. Get ahead of the game and begin planning your fall roster by answering these questions:
- How many staff members will be leaving?
- How many will need to change their availability?
- How many year-round staff are staying on?
- How many team members do you need for fall based on last year’s numbers?
- If you’re using restaurant scheduling software that’s integrated with your POS, it should be easy for you to get a sense of the numbers you’ll need for fall. If your scheduling software is integrated with a POS that drills deep into sales for revenue centers (i.e. the lounge or the dining room), you’ll also know exactly how much staff you need, and where you need them.
- What are your sales projections for the year, and what percent of that number do you want to spend on labor?
- How many new team members will you need to hire, and when do you need to start training them to have them ready in time?
- Generally, a good workback target is four weeks. One week to get your job postings up and spread the word on social media, one week to interview and hire, and two weeks to train your new employees.
Tip: By mid-August at the latest, you’ll need to consult your staff about their plans for fall to get answers to the first few questions. If you’re using restaurant scheduling software, ask your staff to use the employee portal to communicate their September availability, and be sure to give them a deadline to do so. This will save you from writing notes on napkins about changes, which could lead to manual errors in scheduling.
2. Take a look at labour requirements
Most restaurants are busiest around the summertime – because who can resist a cold beer on the patio with friends? Compared to other months, average sales in the summer could be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled.
In preparation for the fall, you’ll have to remember that this season will be very different: namely, lower customer counts. Generally, people tend to dine out or go out for drinks less once back-to-school and cold weather hits. And because summer vacation ends for many families, you won’t have the same foot traffic from tourists.
But exactly how much less? And how will this decrease in customers impact your labor needs?
To avoid guesswork, review last year’s numbers and gain valuable insight into your numbers for the season. In addition, don’t forget to take into account this year’s market conditions.
3. Plan your sales budget
Making your fall budget is necessary, but it doesn’t have to be a painful process. Some managers set their budgets based on what they need to make, while others will do it with projections based on data. If you’re using restaurant scheduling software that connects with your POS system, it’ll be easy for you to see month-over-year how the numbers stack up.
Projections based on data tend to better reflect actuals down the road. Don’t forget to give thought to these other factors that could influence sales:
- Are there any upcoming fall events? Is your neighbourhood planning and festivals, markets, etc. for the season that could bring in heaps of extra foot traffic?
- Are you adding an arm of delivery services? If you plan to use third-party food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats, it’s apt to have a big impact on staffing and meal counts.
- Will there be any savings compared to last year? If you’ve just started using a scheduling software this year, you’ll probably ses savings in labor costs, which means there’s a good bit of budget back to work with.
4. Make seasonal menu changes
With fall comes a bounty of fruits and vegetables ready for harvest. Late summer is the ideal time to begin designing a fall menu that makes the most of these flavors and the culinary trends your guests will be craving.
Here are four key considerations when planning your fall menu:
- Use locally sourced fall ingredients to cater to customers’ social responsibility palettes.
- Put your own spin on comfort food classics (e.g. mac and cheese).
- Take advantage of the fruits of the season with plenty of desserts (e.g. pies, cobblers, puddings).
- Add big garnishes and infusions with cocktails (e.g. beets, herbs, fruit slices).
5. Pack away the patio
Finally, it’s time to pack away the patio furniture: the cushions, blankets, chairs, fire pits, and other decor that are loved during the summer, but virtually futile during the colder months.
Instead of simply throwing a tarp over your outdoor furniture, you may want to consider storage. Putting your furniture into storage provides ample protection from the elements and theft while they aren’t in use.
Do more with Ameego
By following these 5 steps, you can prepare your restaurant for a successful fall season – but to ensure you’re maximizing profits, use a restaurant scheduling software like Ameego for accurate labor forecasting, detailed reports into key metrics, one-touch scheduling, and more.
Book a consultation with our team to learn more.