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How to beat the pitfalls of Winter in Hospitality

As we fully move into the winter vibe I find myself reflecting on a number of great conversations I’ve had in the past three months with cafe owners across Australasia - on how they go about planning for the seasonal change.

The obvious changes are the menu and beverage switch to suit the shorter, colder days and increased demand for hot soups, rich wine and spiced cocktails. However, there are a few situations and opportunities to be aware of in these scarf-wrapped, jacket-wearing months.

Here’s a little reminder of the pitfalls we can sometimes fall into during these months and a way to maximise our wintry customer spend.

Opening Hours

During these shorter days it’s easy to get into the habit of closing the doors a little earlier to save on staff costs because people are not out as late as they are in summer. But what seems like a harmless change to help control the wage bill can have an unforeseen impact on your revenue potential.

I’ve heard the following tale many times and experienced it myself -  You double check a venue’s opening hours on your phone to then arrive & learn that the kitchen, or doors, have closed.

This is not the greatest customer experience but it’s one that can be easily avoided.

Losing the trade that night is not the damaging part, it is the mental note that these customers now make about your venue not being open when you say you will be.

To reduce the impact of these potential issues:

  • If you are planning to close early during these months, then make sure you update your opening hours on Google, Facebook, your website and window display.
  • If closing early for the night, pop it on your Facebook and/or Instagram pages. You can always remove this post the next day but at least you have shown an attempt to reduce the harm.

An extra Nudge

Winter is a good time to work closely with your team on increasing customer spend. It’s an obvious concept, “ye old upsell”, but have you considered looking at the time of day you are most likely to achieve this?

The majority of us will look for the simple “Would you like fries with that?” approach to the upsell which should happen at every moment you are selling/serving. But consider this - the key trick I have learnt over the years is to look at when you are busiest and how you could add an extra 10% to that turnover period.

Bringing on an extra set of hands in those busier times and setting key upselling targets with the team is a clean way to make a good impact to your turnover. I know - call me crazy - but If you work out the max turnover per staff member your team can handle and compare this to your peak times, you’ll quickly identify how crucial it could be to add that extra $XX in staff costs to gain $XXX in revenue.

Note: the customers are already in the door. You just need to make them want to spend a little more

Project Manage your cleaning roster

With more wind, dirt and general rubbish making its way through your door, the cost of keeping your venue clean can start to add up when you are reviewing staff cost vs income periods.

This is why it’s always a good idea to take the time out and review how you want your cleaning roster to work. Look at ways that multiple tasks could be completed at the same time to reduce staff waiting around.

As an example, think of your morning routine and ways you could save time by rearranging key tasks - such as putting the kettle on before getting in the shower.

In the Hospo game these tricks could be as simple as filling the bucket with hot water slowly while putting the chairs up or washing the floors first before closing down the coffee machine.

Depending on your layout you may work out simple tricks to how one should close up shop that may save 15minutes a day (aka $1750.00* per year).

*based on 1 staff member for 15mins * 7 days * 50 weeks * $20p/hr