It’s a stretch to say that summer is just around the corner, but the days are getting longer, the weather’s getting warmer, and spring’s first daffodils are here. In the hospitality industry, however, there is rarely time to stop and smell the flowers. Smart operators are already turning their attention to the challenges and opportunities that the season can bring in terms of staffing, site layout, and offer.
Summer will bring an upsurge in custom for the vast majority of sites in the industry and therefore a wonderful chance to drive sales. To maximise this opportunity, it can be crucial to get staffing levels right. This will help deliver the quality service that keeps customers coming back all year round, as well as mitigate against the costly missed sales that can come from being understaffed.
Many managers will look to take on new employees to help them through the busy months ahead, but it can be difficult to attract quality staff in the short term. University students can be a great option. Often, they finish exams in May and will not return to their studies before well into September. This gives them time to be properly trained before the summer’s peak in July and August. Happily, at the end of the party when the weather starts to cool and trade starts to slow, they will return to university and release pressure on your wage budget. Employing students also has the likely benefit of the opportunity to re-hire the same people several years running, saving time and money on training.
Now is also a good time to think about the composition of your staff in terms of part and full time team members. Sites where business peaks significantly on weekends will reap the rewards of having primarily part time staff who are happy to work a couple of shifts a week. Locations like city centre pubs that are likely to have steady footfall, especially when the sun is out, may find that having a well-drilled corps of full-time workers will help them optimise both service and sales.
The seasons drive consumer trends, and customers will expect a very different food and drink offer in June and July than January and February. A challenge for operators is to match the demand for summer dishes without overburdening the kitchen. A radical menu change is rarely a good idea. A simple but effective food offering based around summer classics like salads, barbequed meat, and seafood is a likely winner. Additionally, the warm weather brings a golden opportunity to upsell deserts like ice cream, Eton Mess, and strawberries and cream.
Drinks tastes also change with the weather, and sites can benefit from serving easy-drinking golden ales, more white and rosé wines, and summer cocktails. However, to get the most out of their summer drinks offer, managers must be savvy enough to resist the temptation to stock products that might not sell in bulk. 2017 is tipped to be the year of tequila, and summer partying will bring a spike in sales. But if your business caters to a more traditional clientele, such trends may be best avoided. There’s no point buying in an expensive premium bottle if it’s going to spend the next year on your shelf gathering dust.
This year’s late Easter will herald the start of the summer season in earnest, especially if the weather is kind. The four-day weekend is likely to see beer gardens and outside seating areas given their first serious use, so it’s crucial to have them all set and ready for business. This means grass should be neatly mowed and furniture clean and repaired after any winter damage, as well as laid out in a way that optimises access and maximises the number of outdoor covers. Well-placed outdoor advertising can also be a great way to keep customers informed and drive sales.
Whether big sporting events are a blessing or a curse for your business, with no major football tournament or Olympics, arranging the interior of your site to cater for sports fans is likely to be less of a priority this summer. However, the summer months are second only to Christmas in terms of the demand for high-cover social eating and drinking, so arranging your site to comfortably accommodate large groups is likely to be a shrewd move.
The living may not be easy this summer time, but with effective prior planning across all areas of your business, it can certainly be profitable.
Featured image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com