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Top Tips – Preparing for the Sales Downturn

Posted by - Last updated: Wednesday August 08th 2018

Recent months have been hugely positive for the UK hospitality industry.

Our own analysis revealed that, bolstered by fine weather and the World Cup, average June revenues were up 5.4% on 2017. This followed equally impressive May trading and will mean many operators are heading into August feeling flush. As pleasant as it would be to revel in this good news, summer must turn to autumn and indeed July was a quieter month for most. The best-run businesses will already be turning their attention to how to maximise profits when sales inevitably do drop significantly. Here’s our best advice.

Forecast Effectively for September

Good sales forecasting is always a cornerstone of efficient labour deployment and increased profitability, but is especially important in the fickle month of September. At its best it can feel like an extension of summer. At its worst it’s a dreary harbinger of winter. The difference in sales can have dramatic impact on a venue’s overall fortunes, an effect magnified by poor labour planning. Studying weather forecasts and historic sales patterns closely before making sales predictions will best position you to staff your site effectively to boost profits however September turns out.

Holiday Planning

Late summer is the perfect time to get your house in order regarding your employees’ holiday time. Your team will have worked hard recently and be due a well-earned break. With sales soon likely to fall and the testing festive season still to come, it’s the perfect time to encourage staff to take time off, reducing your commitment to giving them hours without leaving them out of pocket.

Flexible Budgeting 

S4Labour allows its clients to benefit from flexible budgeting. This is a valuable tool at times when sales can vary greatly and in sites where there are significant economies of scale in the level of sales staff are capable of processing or physical restrictions on the number of employees who can be scheduled. It works by setting a base weekly labour spend, the minimum required to run the site regardless of sales, to which labour is proportionally added in response to rising sales. This means that whatever your sales forecast your target labour percentage will be suitable and means those tricky conversations between operations managers and GMs about appropriate budgeting are avoided.

Base Rotas

The challenge with the flexible approach to labour budgeting is understanding what a realistic base rota is to dictate the minimum weekly labour spend. Once you have the base the flex tends to be quite simple. We suggest looking at past quiet times and assessing what it would take to run the business. Early November and late January are typically good points of reference. Don’t go too extreme; attempting to run the business with one waiter and one chef seven days a week is not realistic.

Set Targets

Autumn doesn’t have to be all about tightening your belts and waiting for the festive season. Setting targets for venues or even individual members of staff can energise the business and turn a dreary period into a time to build. In our own pubs, we love getting innovative at this time of year. It’s the perfect opportunity to look for exciting ways to drive sales and improve service with the best ideas carried into a busy December.

S4Labour is the perfect tool to help hospitality businesses thrive all year round. Call 01295 267400 or Book 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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