Top Tips for Reporting

Reporting is an important aspect of modern hospitality management, with operators benefiting from a wealth of illuminating information. Here are our top tips on how you can make reporting work for your business. 

Daily Reporting

To stay on top of their business performance, it is important for site managers to have quick, easy access to key headline figures, and to check them regularly. This includes forecasted and actual sales, as well as data on labour spend. We find that although weekly data can be useful to give an overall picture, data broken down daily is needed to gain true insight. Armed with this information, managers will be far better placed to make the decisions needed to ensure labour costs stay tightly controlled without ever compromising on service, driving long-term success.

Responding to Sales

Albert Einstein once said that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change”, and flexibility is certainly an important aspect of an intelligent approach to labour management. It is a good idea for managers to adopt an adaptable approach to rota-building, adding in hours at times when takings are higher than expected, and cutting them back when they are lower. Through its flexed budget settings, S4Labour allows its users to be truly fluid, by calculating an optimal labour percentage using an equation driven by the level of sales. We find that our clients who use flexed budgets are among the best at writing optimised rotas.

Planning to Win

Great sales forecasting is a cornerstone of effective hospitality management. However, we often speak to operators who find this challenging. Those with a focus on service may deliberately over-forecast to facilitate higher staffing levels, while those with an eye on the bottom line may low-ball their forecast to save on wages. Although tempting, we would advise managers to avoid succumbing to these pitfalls, as in the long run, truly accurate forecasting, coupled with a good understanding of the level of staffing needed to deliver the sales and service you desire, will give you the best possible chance of success. Honesty really is the best policy.

Of course, forecasting accurately is easier said than done, so we like to give S4Labour users a helping hand. Illuminating historic data covering past sales trends, a location-specific weather forecast, and the ability to easily account for special events are among the system functions that promote the best possible forecasting.

Slack & Stress

We like to think about labour levels in terms of time spent with spot-on, slack, and stress conditions. Naturally, spot-on is the ideal, with team members working briskly and efficiently to deliver great service. Slack hours account for the times when too many staff are working, and employees may be standing around idle, and are a waste of wages. Stress hours are the opposite – times when too few staff are on shift, and those who are working are rushed off their feet. Quality of service is likely to suffer, and crucially, you could be missing out on hundreds or even thousands of pounds in sales opportunities by being unable to serve customers efficiently.

Minimising slack and stress hours is a great way to promote overall business health, but often we speak to operators who have no way of monitoring these conditions. S4 provides truly insightful reporting on slack, stress, and spot-on time, driven by metrics that can be customised to suit your business. This allows the best possible rotas to be written.

Percentage to Sales

Although the industry is changing fast, labour spend as a percentage of sales is still by far the most commonly used measure of labour management performance. It’s undoubtedly useful to know just how much you are spending, but it can be more useful to know how effectively money is being spent. It’s helpful to keep track of exactly when you’re spending your labour budget, and in what areas of the business, as having and acting on this information will lead to reductions in stress and slack, improvements in service and staff motivation, and increased overall profitability.

S4Labour helps you grasp not just how much you are spending on staffing, but how well you are spending it, all in an intuitive, user-friendly format.

Featured image by Mrsiraphol –

Preparing for Valentine’s & Mothers’ Days

Preparing for Valentine’s & Mothers’ Days

With January behind us, the hospitality industry is looking forward to brighter times ahead. This time of year brings several events that for most pubs and restaurants ensure some of the busiest days of the year. First among them comes Valentine’s Day, a time for amorous pampering that tends to spread into a week-long festival of romantic meals for two and bumper champagne sales. March then brings Mothers’ day, another chance for inventive special menus, and for many the year’s best Sunday in terms of driving sales.

The days themselves can be relentless. The first wave of guests arrives early in the day, and while you are intent on delivering great service and food, you’re also worrying about whether you can turn tables around in time for the next sitting. Whether you have couples whispering sweet-nothings, or mothers basking in the glow of familial affection, customers are likely to linger over their meals, making you hard-pushed to stay on top. Weariness kicks in, and staying as good at 8PM as you were at noon is not an easy fight.

Preparation is Key

Events like these can test most of the processes in the businesses, all the way from prep to pot wash. Being fully prepared and 100% ready to swing into action is crucial to the successful running of your busiest days. That doesn’t just mean having a tidy kitchen ready to go. It means having a kitchen cooking in advance of tickets. It means having cold starters and deserts plated. It means having enough lemons chopped for the whole day and every detergent bottle filled.

Special Occasions as Opportunities & Examples

Many sites recognise special occasions are essential to their business, and therefore treat them as special cases, preparing especially well. But why shouldn’t this happen every day when you expect to be busy, like sunny Saturdays, payday weekends, or big sporting nights? What about every weekend? How much easier would every Sunday be if we treated it like Mothers’ Day? How much better would we cope with a full house on a Friday night if we prepared for it as well as we did for Valentine’s night? The actions we have no choice but to employ if we are to succeed on special occasions should be habits we choose to adopt the whole year round.

With these habits made the norm, many businesses would soon find themselves delivering better service at lower cost, and then maybe every Sunday would be like Mothers’ Day, every night like Valentine’s. A full house would cease to be an exception because we’re so good at what we do that we’re always full. Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it”, so let’s use this season’s big events as a golden opportunity to embed the key practices that will help us not just imagine success, but achieve it.

Image result for valentine's day pub

Valentine’s Day is a chance for bumper food and drink sales

Our top tips for Special Occasion Success

1 – Create prep lists well in advance of the big day and tick off items as you do them. Prepare food items that won’t deteriorate as early as you can to get them out of the way.

2 – Plan the pre-staging process and space for cold starters and desserts. Have enough food plated and ready to go, allowing you to deliver at speed and wow your guests with an efficient kitchen, even at the busiest times.

3 – This is the perfect time of year to order in any crockery, cutlery, and other items you need. You shouldn’t then need to order again until next year.

4 – Figure out the pot wash process and don’t let it be a block. Make sure there is an organised way to put the crockery and cutlery down and install shelving if you need to.

5 – Map the flow of your bookings very carefully, allowing longer for bigger tables. Don’t be afraid to max out on bookings, as cancellations are always likely.

6 – Stagger your bookings to relieve the pressure on the kitchen.

7 – Task a team member with floating front of house, charged with processing bills, setting tables, and any other odd jobs that arise.

8 – Be flexible. It is essential that the manager doesn’t get stuck in one place, but can see the whole building, reacting to pressure points by either adjusting staff or stepping in themselves.

9 – Brief your team as thoroughly as you can. Make sure everyone fully knows their role, set targets and encourage upselling; people in a festive mood are the most likely to splash out on extras.

10 – Keep your team fresh. For those working long shifts the fatigue is real and they need drinks and food. Be generous with your praise, as after all, that’s the biggest energiser there is.