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Staffing for Fine Weather – Our Advice

Posted by - Last updated: Wednesday April 18th 2018
After a winter that seemed to last a lifetime, with Artic conditions punishing hospitality operators well into March, spring is finally here. Britain is basking in warm, sunny weather and the fine days are set to last into the weekend, giving the industry a golden chance to make proverbial hay.

But simply throwing open the doors and waiting for the customers to come may not be enough. Competition amongst operators to attract the crowds can be fierce. Here are our top tips to get ahead of the rest through effective labour planning and deployment.

Understand the impact on your site

Every venue is different, and the fine weather will affect them differently. For those lucky enough to have large outside areas, bumper sales are a near-certainty. Smaller, more enclosed sites, especially in urban areas, may in fact lose out. Take some time to consider your last year’s sales in the context of the weather at the time. This will give you the best guide on what to expect and allow you to plan and execute profitable days of trading, however the sun impacts your site. Multi-site companies may benefit from resisting a one-size-fits-all approach, tailoring a plan to each site specifically rather than the business as a whole.

Forecast proactively 

Optimised labour deployment, which leads to higher profits, starts with accurate forecasting. As well as considering historic data to make an accurate initial prediction, it’s a good idea to take a proactive approach. Keep a close eye on the weather forecast – we all know how quickly they can change – and consider each day’s trading when looking ahead to the next. If Thursday was busier than first expected, it’s likely Friday will be too. Don’t be afraid to update your sales forecast as the week progresses and make scheduling decisions accordingly.

S4Labour is the perfect tool for better forecasting. With built-in Met Office weather forecasts geolocated by site and clear, intuitive reporting on historic sales and weather, it allows managers to predict trade levels more accurately than ever before. 

Reconsider shift lengths and patterns

It’s likely that you have regular patterns in shift lengths and start and finish times. These may have worked well to reflect sales through the winter months but can be far less optimal when the sun shines. If your site is typically busy at lunch time and again later in the evening, it makes sense to keep staffing minimal between 3 and 6pm. But on a sunny day this may miss out on groups tempted by an after-work drink, leaving you understaffed and resulting in poor service and missed sales opportunities. Time spent thinking closely about shift lengths, start and end times, and split shift timings is unlikely to be wasted.

Create a culture of flexibility

As well as encouraging flexibility in shift lengths and timings, it’s always a good idea to promote a culture of general flexibility in your business. Explain to staff that shift timings may not always be set in stone and reward them appropriately when they go the extra mile. Now is also a great time to think of the composition of your team in terms of full and part time staff in anticipation of the busy summer season. Full time staff bring consistency of service, but also cost the business more to employ. A team built around a lower number of full time members and more part time employees may bring the flexibility needed to run an effective business through the fickle British summer while staying within a tight labour budget.

Plan for contingencies

In life nothing is certain, and it’s a foolish man who banks on the British weather staying fine. It’s a good idea to make sure you have contingency plans in place for when the weather lets you down. Be prepared to end shifts early when disappointing weather reduces sales, and communicate with staff to make them aware of this possibility. As a useful alternative to trimming hours, it can be sensible to redeploy hours away from service and into the ancillary tasks needed to keep the site functioning; essential cleaning, chopping fruit, and emptying bins are all important tasks that it’s easy to neglect when sales are high.

Following our advice will put you well on your way to excellent labour management through this fine spell and beyond. For optimum insight and control on labour, bringing invaluable benefits in cost-saving, driving sales and service, and saving time, S4Labour is the ideal platform. Why not request a demo today?

Alec Vještica

A hospitality professional who combines an analytical mind with energy and frontline experience in his approach, Alec worked in managed houses for companies including Greene King and Samuel Smith's before joining Catton in 2016. He is passionate about the industry and always enjoys meeting operators across all sectors.

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