Top tips for surviving the festive period from Stephen Waters, managing director of Watershed School, a management training school uniquely dedicated to the bar and restaurant business
Christmas is make or break for all of us. It’s easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace of work and forget about the all-important team element which can make the difference between good takings and outstanding takings
Having worked with the likes of Hawksmoor, Spring at Somerset House and Loungers, we have canvassed views from some of the best in the trade to put together the following tips. I hope they will help managers in particular make the most of the festive season.
1. Have a plan. And share it with the team. It sounds obvious but the busier the time, the more planning required. Have a spreadsheet up on the wall showing clearly when all the bookings and parties are (and keep it updated) so that everyone knows what’s coming and is ready for it.
2. Brief well and manage expectations. Make sure all the staff are “bought in” to working extra hours over the busy period. Let them know it’s going to be hectic and full on – but fun.
3. Show strong leadership. Keep calm and level-headed. The team will take their lead from you. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” is a good mantra for this busy period.
4. Be supportive. This is the toughest time of year for staff. Be there for your team – give them extra support when they need it and remember it’s Christmas for them too.
5. Small things can make a big difference. Keep up the one-on-one conversations with each team member – and keep them positive. Save the development needs for January.
6. Don’t forget to look after yourself. Try to keep an element of work-life balance: eat well, get enough sleep and make time for friends and family once a week, even at the busiest times.
7. Have patience with your customers: ‘Tis the season to be jolly, so a little leeway with your more tipsy customers goes a long way. Friendly staff means happy customers, who will spend more and tip more, which means staff will be happier, and so it continues….
8. Pace yourself and your team. It’s only going to get busier!
9. Think about how many champagne flutes you might need – then double it.
10. Enjoy it. Let’s face it, we love it! Thrive on the buzz and adrenalin, focus on the positive, enjoy the festive spirit and you will bring your team with you.
Watershed School is a management training school uniquely dedicated to the bar and restaurant business. Founded in 2001 by Stephen Waters, ex-managing director of Pitcher & Piano and head of its in-house management academy, Watershed takes a ground-breaking approach to training, favouring active learning, collaboration and shared experience over role play and prescriptive teaching.