14 Weeks to Christmas - 10 Ways to get your Commercial Kitchen Ready for the Festive Footfall
For any chef in a commercial kitchen, getting ready for the Christmas period starts months before December. Once the summer holidays are over, it’s ‘hit the ground running’ time to plan and prepare for the festive season. There’s a lot to do, from selecting the right menus and planning the necessary resources to ensuring there are sufficient staff available, promoting your restaurant or eatery, and getting the Christmas decorations!
- Get your staff allocated - it doesn’t matter how prepared you are in terms of menu, food or decorations, if you don’t have sufficient staff available to prepare the food and serve diners, then you’re going to have some very unhappy customers! Many restaurants and eateries will have early Christmas bookings which will give you a good basis for deciding how many extra staff may be required. If you need to hire more staff, now’s the time to do it, ensuring you have enough time to train them. Promote your best, regular staff to the roles of guest liaison and front of house; they can focus on ensuring your customers are happy while new staff can carry out the serving and drinks duties.
- Organise staff holidays over the festive season – the last thing you need is staff requesting holiday time days before your busy Christmas Eve or Christmas Day! Talk to your staff and ask them to send in their holiday requests early. Create a staffing rota that includes back-up staff in case anyone falls ill.
- Create a festive menu – your festive menu represents you and your restaurant, and pulls more customers in. Avoid any dishes that are still at the experimental stage as using them is a risky strategy. Discuss the menu with all your chefs and finalise with your head chef. If you offer a takeaway service, create a different menu for that side of your business.
- Order your ingredients – once you’ve finalised your menu, work out the ingredients you’re going to need and order them from your suppliers as soon as possible. Your suppliers will also be busy over the Christmas period, so the sooner you can let them know what your needs are, the smoother the supply chain will be.
- Update payment systems – on a busy Christmas evening, you really want to avoid slow payment terminals, or even terminals that don’t operate, just because you haven’t updated the software with the latest version. Think about digital payments. Recent research has shown that more than 50% of customers would rather pay via their digital wallets, i.e. using a smartphone, than by cash or credit card.
- Update your website – make sure your website is fully up to date and includes your Christmas promotions, menu and booking availability. A great way of promoting your restaurant, hotel or eatery is through testimonials from customers on your website.
- Get the decorations out! – every restaurant or eatery needs Christmas decorations, but don’t just focus on the inside – the outside of your premises is just as important. This is what your potential customer sees first and will bring them in. However, when putting up decorations, remember fire safety rules.
- Promote yourself – develop an advertising plan using local papers and social media. Create flyers that you can display in your restaurant and give to local businesses. Consider running a local radio campaign to include a discount for early bookings.
- Contact your best customers – get in touch with your regular customers and customers who booked Christmas parties, functions or events the previous year. Run an email campaign promoting your Christmas menu and new promotions, and remind people to book early to avoid disappointment.
- Gift cards – consider offering gift cards, or e-gift cards online. They make a lovely present for loved ones, family and friends. Promote your gift cards on your website, across social media and other advertising campaigns.
The Christmas menu
Think digital and update technology
Deck the halls