As a restaurant, the holidays are your best marketing opportunity. The focus during the holiday season for your restaurant is, of course, capturing sales. You may think this is cut and dry marketing, but your employees are the biggest part of growing your sales during the season.

The guest experience during the holiday season of joy and giving is paramount and the people responsible for making that experience awesome are your staff. Happy customers will:

  • Buy certificates for last minute present for family, friends, and coworkers.
  • Book their holiday parties at your restaurant, giving you a new pool of potential customers.
  • Continue to go to your restaurant throughout the rest of the year.

We have three tips to get your employees to provide that incredible experience that influences sales.

Provide More Trainings

We are the midst of the holiday season, but it is never too late to provide a training session that can help turn your sales around by focusing on the customer experience. Host a training session as soon as possible outlining techniques and goals for your staff to provide an awesome customer experience to every restaurant patron. Through your employees, make your restaurant maintain an atmosphere of welcomeness and giving spirit.

Emphasize that putting in the extra effort during the holiday season to make the guest experience extra special will reflect in their pay. The happier the guest is during the joyous holiday season, the bigger tips and generosity your staff will see. Even customers who may be stressed out with all the holiday cheer can have their season turned around by an awesome experience at your restaurant which can be reflected in the tip.

This training should also include how the staff should treat each other during the season. There is no doubt this is a busy time of year and that can cause stress, causing staff to lash out at each other. It is important to extend that welcome and giving spirit in your restaurant to how your staff treats each other. Keeping your staff working well together is imperative to providing a great customer experience.

Avoid Burnout

With the holidays being so busy, employees who are scheduled often can experience burnout quickly. Especially since managers tend to overschedule their all-star employees to make the customer experience better. However, if you have a bunch of grumpy employees coming to work who would much rather have time off with friends and family, the customer experience will suffer.

If you are worried about your more inexperienced employees handling the busy holidays, offer incentives to the all-star employees to mentor and train those who are struggling. Not only will you feel confident scheduling the inexperienced employees more often, but you will also reward the employee and avoid burning them out.

Be Flexible

This can be the most difficult part of the holiday season, but it is arguably the most important. You have to be more flexible and consider that the employees want time off during the season. Yes, it is a busy time, but employees will want to celebrate the season with their real families, not just their restaurant family.

At the beginning of the month, survey employees and ask who is okay with taking more hours during the season and who will need some time off. There will certainly be employees who want to earn more during the season to make up for the ones who want to spend time with family. Stick with everyone’s availability to show your appreciation for their extra hard work during the season. If you need more help, consider hiring a seasonal staff to give your regular employees a break. When you are flexible, the employees will appreciate it and it will reflect in their service to customers.

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Matt Thompson

CEO of ShiftNote
Matt has let his lifelong passion of food and people lead him to 15 amazing years as a restaurant manager and another 9 years working as a Director with a major food service distributor. He has channeled this passion to help create and run ShiftNote. When he's not dominating the food service industry, he's spending time with his 4 children and cheering on the Tigers as a Mizzou Alumni.