At S4Labour we are often approached by operators who ask for help controlling costs in their venues. While we can certainly oblige in this, an often overlooked yet equally significant factor in promoting the overall health of a hospitality business is driving increased sales. Here are our top tips.
Forecast Sales to Deploy Efficiently
Avoiding understaffing is critical to growing sales in any business. It’s far easier for team members of upsell to customers and deliver the memorable experiences that will earn repeat custom if they aren’t stretched too thin. Spending time trying to hone in on an accurate sales forecast for each area of your business will allow you to write a rota to maximise sales without compromising on cost controls.
Right-Size your Team
Happy, motivated staff are the best at selling. Staff are much more likely to feel content at work if they are working the number of hours they want, and this can really show in their approach to serving customers. Before recruiting any new team members, it’s a good idea to make sure their expectations for shift length and frequency match the needs of the business. There’s little point hiring somebody looking for a full time position if you just need Saturday night cover. A misalignment between the number of hours a venue needs to spend and the number its staff expect to work can lead to high staff turnover, poor service, and reduced sales.
Balance Front of House and Kitchen
Striking the right balance between front of house and kitchen staffing is key to maximising overall revenues in many venues. We often speak to general managers who are very FOH-focused and see running the kitchen as something of a dark art that they are happy to leave to the head chef. But spending some time getting to really understand the challenges, capabilities, and limitations of your kitchen set-up will allow you to optimise staffing levels in it. This leads to more efficient processes, better relationships between kitchen and customer-facing staff, and increased sales.
S4Labour provides insight to empower managers to take control of all aspects of their business, making tough conversations easy.
Properly Plan for Ancillary Tasks
Especially at busy times, it’s a good idea to plan enough labour to cover all the extra tasks that go into running a shift in a busy venue. You may know that you need four employees on the bar to deliver the sales you’re expecting on a weekend evening, but if one of them has to spend half the night collecting glasses and another is constantly restocking fridges and fetching ice, service speed and standards soon start to suffer. This caps sales both in the short term, with customers unwilling to brave a long queue, and longer term, as they may not ever return.
Embrace the Tripadvisor Generation
Like it or loathe it, we live in a time when online reviews from the public can have a huge impact on a venue’s reputation and future revenues. Engage with people who leave feedback on Tripadvisor, Facebook, and Google Reviews to encourage those who enjoyed their visit to return and to repair relationships with less satisfied visitors. It can also be beneficial to gently nudge your most complimentary customers towards these platforms, but beware of laying it on too thickly, which can easily have the opposite to intended effect.
S4Labour users benefit from unrivalled insight into the sales patterns in their venues, leading to optimised staffing and a typical 6% increase in revenues. Sounds good? Why not book a demo?
August was another excellent month for S4Labour customers, and the wider UK hospitality industry, our latest research has found. Like for like sales were up on average 3.9% compared to 2017’s revenues, as businesses across all sectors and trading styles enjoyed an increase in both wet and dry takings.
Drink sales were the main driver behind the strong results, with food-focused operators seeing a 5.6% rise on 2017’s level and wet-led venues not far behind with a 5.2% increase. Food revenues were also very healthy – up on average 1.8%. Again dry-led sites were the biggest winners, enjoying a 1.8% boost compared to last year. Drink-led operators were again not far behind, with on average a 1.4% rise.
This rounds off an extremely good summer for revenues across British hospitality. May and June both saw like for like revenues up in excess of 5%, although July brought a slight dip in sales. Much of the strong summer trading has been ascribed to fine weather and the World Cup, but as August’s weather was variable and England’s exploits are now just a memory, operators will be cheered by the continued positive trend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Following a superb early summer, July was a quieter month for UK hospitality.
May and June both saw like for like sales up in excess of 5%, but this rising trend has been arrested, according to our latest research. Analysis of over 100 organisations using our S4Labour software across all industry sectors found on average a 0.3% reduction in revenues compared to July 2017.
The slight decline was driven by lower food sales, as venues saw on average a 2.5% decrease. With hot weather likely impacting appetites, wet-led sites were most impacted, typically seeing a 5.2% fall. This reduction was to an extent mitigated by an increase in drink sales of on average 1.0%, although with this figure less impressive than in preceding months, it seems likely that the period of high consumer spending that characterised the early summer has come to an end.