We are now accepting applications for our 2018/2019 graduate scheme
No idea what you want to do? Were your best memories of university in the pub? Go no further. Our graduate scheme offers a 12-month experience in a range of business areas, including sales, marketing, customer success, IT development, and HR, after which you are given the opportunity to choose which section suits you best. The scheme provides flexibility, variety and excitement, giving you considerable responsibility from day 1.
What you’ll do
12-month rotation programme with a mentor from each section. After each section, you will have a meeting/catch up to get feedback on your experience as well as listen to ideas for improvement. After the initial 12 months the scheme can be tailored to your preferences.
What we are looking for
We are looking for enthusiastic, business minded and hard-working individuals with great interpersonal and communicative skills.
Click here for further details
The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. Within it lies an opportunity to impress your customers and boost your sales. Providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom during the following months. Here’s our advice on how to make this Christmas a roaring success.
By this stage, plans for the festive period will already be in place. With seasonal staff recruited, menus written, and bookings taken, operators must now consider how to implement their strategy as effectively as possible. Doing so will ensure sales opportunities are maximised, and customers are provided with excellent service.
Push Premium Products
Christmas and New Year’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to upsell premium products. With customers looking to indulge or celebrate in style, it is important to ensure your staff are pushing premium items such as champagne on arrival and top-shelf spirits after dinner.
In an increasingly health-conscious society, many customers will be looking for exciting soft drinks over the festive period. Findings from soft-drink producer Britvic showed 45% of consumers are set to buy more soft drinks during the festive season. A total of 37% also plan to spend more on soft drinks at Christmas than in previous years. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of soft drinks is a good way to do so. A premium offering of soft drinks will ensure that teetotallers, designated drivers, and people conscious of work the following day still feel as if they are treating themselves for a special occasion. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.
Communicate with your Staff
Alterations to rotas are inevitable during busy periods such as these. It is therefore important to communicate clearly with your staff, and keep them informed of any changes to their schedules. Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional workload and responsibilities. Regularly restocking fridges, wiping tables, and refilling ice buckets will lead to smooth service, and consequently enhance your customers’ experience. It is also important to recognise and praise staff for their extra effort during what can be an exhausting month. Thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keep morale high.
S4Labour issues notifications to alert staff to changes in the rota. Our HR Module also provides team members with access to an employee portal, allowing them to request holidays, and manage their own details thereby saving admin time. Find out more about the HR Module here.
Communicate with your Customers
For many venues, communication with customers will already have taken place when taking bookings and pre-orders. Where possible, pre-ordering of food and even drinks is a great way to ensure your business gets stock levels right over the festive period. Advocating pre-ordering will also help the kitchen know what’s coming and prepare accordingly. The information taken from pre-orders should also be used to consider stock levels of sundry items such as candles, napkins and tablecloths. Pre-ordering will improve the efficiency of your front of house staff – with orders already taken, staff have more time available to help in other areas and upsell products. Encouraging pre-ordering will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service.
Applying a minimum spend is a good way to guarantee you get value for your venue space, in a period where it is at a premium. Minimum spend requirements should be clearly communicated with customers prior to their booking to ensure there are no surprises during their visit. Communicating with your customers prior to events will lead to a smoother service and happier guests.
Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using the available space wisely can be a great way to maximise sales. Ensuring you have enough tables and rearranging these to meet demand is one way of accommodating more bookings. You should also consider how you split your site by bookings. This, of course, depends on the nature of the venue – how do you give people private areas? How many tables do you have available, and how frequently do you turn them?
Consider your Trading Hours
Extending the trading hours of your business can allow you to capitalise on increased sales opportunities over the festive period, with customers wishing to continue seasonal celebrations late into the night. Arrangements for staff to work outside of normal trading hours will need to be made, and any council applications to extend licencing hours should be submitted in advance of key dates.
The festive period is an excellent opportunity for hospitality businesses to enhance their reputation with customers and generate repeat custom in the following weeks and months.
S4Labour helps users schedule the optimal number of staff during busy periods. This allows its users to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business. Click here to find out more about the benefits of S4Labour.
With the festive season just around the corner, it is important for hospitality businesses to strategically plan for the increased demand during the weeks and months ahead. Accurate sales forecasting will ensure operators get the most from this busy period.
Accuracy is Key
Many businesses will under-forecast in order to keep labour costs low, and whilst coming in under your wage budget may seem like a positive, this ultimately leads to poor customer service and missed sales opportunities. With a large amount of business being driven by word of mouth and repeat custom, providing poor customer service is not sustainable. In contrast, over-forecasting in order to protect service levels will result in too many staff members being scheduled and excess spend on labour. The aim therefore, should not be for operators to beat their forecast, but rather get as close to it as possible.
The most evident benefit arising from an accurate sales forecast is more efficient deployment of labour. Mapping labour deployment against sales forecasts will ensure operators always have enough staff on shift to deal with demand, but not too many to lead to staff standing idle. This will maintain a high standard of customer service, as staff will have time to provide every customer with the attention they deserve, while still working briskly.
Another benefit of producing a precise sales forecast is the positive impact on product ordering and supply. Having a detailed forecast of sales throughout the day and week will help managers avoid over or under ordering stock. Over ordering can have a significant negative impact on profit margins, with excess stock going to wastage. Similarly, under ordering can have a negative impact – if a venue runs out of stock and cannot provide everything offered on the menu, customer experience will be impacted. Forecasting sales accurately will provide operators with a good guide on the required level of products for the week.
The benefits of accurate forecasting are clear to see, but how can we improve?
Split Your Forecast
When it comes to forecasting, the devil is in the details. Accuracy can be increased by forecasting on a daily and hourly basis, as well as splitting your forecast into different revenue streams. For example, you may predict the same amount of overall sales on a Saturday and Sunday, however sales on a Saturday will typically be predominantly wet, meaning more bar staff are required in the evening. Contrastingly, for many operators, Sunday lunch service sees Sunday’s food sales the week’s highest, increasing daytime demand for kitchen staff. Operators who split their forecast by revenue stream will see the accuracy of their labour deployment increase.
Organise Your Calendar
Annual and one-off events can have a huge impact upon sales. The Christmas period is a prime example of this, with operators experiencing a large spike in sales caused by Christmas dinners, parties, and other bookings. However, during the months following Christmas, we would expect to see a drop in sales, particularly with the increasingly popular ‘Dry January’ trend making customers less likely to buy alcohol, highlighting the importance of forecasting by revenue stream.
One-off events should also be considered. With a suitable promotion strategy in place, venues can dramatically boost sales by showing sporting events such as the Autumn International rugby matches or Pay-Per-View boxing bouts. Research carried out by MatchPint and Vianet found that on average an additional 22 pints of beer were sold per hour during the Mayweather vs McGregor boxing match in August. Shrewd operators will react to this increase in sales by ensuring they have ample staff on shift at these times to keep up with the increased demand. Ordering may also need to be adjusted. With beer sales likely to increase during sporting events, operators will need to review their drinks forecasts and ensure they are suitably stocked up.
Factor in the Home
Hospitality businesses now face more competition from the home than ever, as a continually increasing level of entertainment is available to the public from the comfort of their living rooms. Use of delivery services is also on the rise, and with Deliveroo reporting a 611% revenue increase in 2016, there is an increasing tendency for customers to stay in on Saturday, and other, nights. In forecasting terms, it is important to factor in specific television events such as ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘The X Factor’. With roughly nine million people tuning in to Strictly and around five million watching The X Factor, Saturday night sales may take a hit during the running periods of these shows.
Turn to Data
Sometimes we need to look back before we can move forward, and while reviewing historical data may seem like a time-consuming exercise for management staff, it is a vital stage of forecasting and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, technological advances over recent years have led to analysis of data at the click of a button.
Assessing last year’s sales figures will provide information on how a business fared during the same week last year. This data is particularly useful when used in conjunction with your events calendar as you will be able to quantify the impact of an annual occurrence such as Freshers’ week in university towns.
Another key factor to consider is forecasts from previous weeks. By comparing previous forecasts to actual sales, managers will be able to see how accurately they have been forecasting, and make adjustments to their future forecasts accordingly.
Click here to find out more about how S4Labour can revolutionise your sales forecasting.
Watch the Weather
It is usually important for operators to factor in the weather, as this will have a direct impact upon levels of sales for many sites. This can be considered on a seasonal and daily level – shorter winter evenings will cause a drop in sales, whereas an unexpected hot weekend could cause a sudden spike. S4Labour has a direct link to Met Office weather forecasts geo-located by site, offering users accurate and up-to-date information on which to base forecasts.
S4Labour’s intelligent system recommends the optimum staffing levels based on users’ sales forecasts. This takes the guesswork out of labour allocation and ensures accurate forecasting is translated into success. Click here to find out more about the impact S4Labour could have on your business.
On Wednesday we were fortunate enough to sponsor the final Propel Multi Club Conference of the year. With industry leaders and entrepreneurial talent from a range of sectors scheduled to speak, we were eager to hear what they had to say.
With an abundance of knowledge in their respective areas, we were provided with real insight from each speaker during the day, and their enthusiasm and passion shone through. Supplemented by thorough, intelligent questioning from Kate Nicholls (ALMR), James Haycon (Thai Leisure Group), and Propel’s own Paul Charity, we ended the day with plenty to think about. Here are the key messages we took home with us.
Investing Wisely Breeds Success
Capital investment company Imbiba’s portfolio includes a number of S4Labour clients, and it was fantastic to hear about their thorough investment process from an energetic Darrel Connell. Creating an upmarket home-from-home with a comfortable yet exclusive atmosphere is a key feature of Imbiba-backed venues. This echoes the wider industry trends for premiumisation. The thought and tactical planning behind Imbiba’s investments was clear to see and their existing investments are shining examples of their success.
Ron Pearson of Bowmark Capital delivered an astute insight into the world of private equity investment. Bowmark are supporting the hospitality industry through strategically selected investments such as the Drake & Morgan bar and restaurant brand. S4Labour have been working with Drake & Morgan for a year and a half, during which time they have seen significant expansion and acquired the Corney & Barrow brand. The scalability of Drake & Morgan is evident, with their success driven by great leadership and consistency across sites.
Differentiation is Key in a Competitive Market
Sameer Shetty of Hubbox takes to the stage
Sharing secrets of how Hubbox have found an edge in a competitive market was their head of operations, Sameer Shetty. Standing in for MD Richard Boon, Sameer did a brilliant job conveying the huge amount of passion driving their business forward.
With Hubbox’s offer focussing predominantly on burgers, it could be argued that this market has become saturated in recent times. Hubbox’s answer to the competition is to leverage their Cornish roots. Located in a region with an abundance of high-quality produce, Hubbox have developed fruitful relationships with local suppliers and sourced fantastic ingredients, making them truly stand out from the crowd.
It is always brilliant to see one of S4Labour’s newer customers thriving. Having initially been introduced to Hubbox by their new chairman, Alex Reilly, we are certainly looking forward to working with them more, especially with such passionate individuals at the helm.
Invest in People
Fuller’s Inns are an industry leader when it comes to food and beverage delivery. Managing director Jonathan Swaine provided us with an overview of how Fuller’s are leading from the front. Jonathan’s enthusiasm for people was clear to see, and it was fantastic to hear that this has been translated into new ‘people-driven’ initiatives and development programmes. Fuller’s have responded to the increasing demand for fresh food and the comparative sparsity of quality chefs by investing in kitchen development schemes. Other leading operators would certainly be wise to follow suit.
Fuller’s Inns certainly have a lot to be celebrating, and Jonathan himself will have been in high spirits as his beloved Brentford F.C. recorded a 2-0 win over Birmingham City later that evening. We look forward to seeing how Fuller’s continue to lead from the front and challenge the status quo.
Experiential Hospitality Concepts are Blossoming
Matt and Jeremy in full swing
Jeremy Symonds and Matt Grech-Smith, founders of the Institute of Competitive Socialising, gave an engaging presentation about the journey of their crazy golf, food, and drinking concept, Swingers. Throughout their presentation, it was clear to see the passion both individuals had for their budding business, and with a new site opening in the West End in 2018, they are expanding on the back of their success. Both individuals have a background in branding, and have used this to their advantage, creating a sustainable business model and ensuring Swingers is not just a fad. The success of Swingers has demonstrated the demand for experiential hospitality concepts.
Another thriving experiential hospitality offering is Lucky Voice. Nick Thistleton, founder of the karaoke bar business, spoke eloquently about the story of Lucky Voice whilst giving us an insight into his personal journey along the way. Within the challenges and distractions that Lucky Voice experienced during their early years lies an important message – focus on your core offering and play to your strengths. The Lucky Voice concept is simple yet brilliant, and by sticking to what they do best, their continued success has been achieved.
Communication is Key
A consistent strength of Propel events is the variety of the speakers. Mark Sheasby of Impress Performance gave a gripping presentation on methods and techniques used within his role as a performance coach.
Drawing on his experience within the police hostage negotiation department, Mark shared both entertaining and traumatic stories in a truly immersive performance. He challenged the audience to consider how they communicate with customers, and how we can all develop our communication skills to improve service levels and customer satisfaction.
A Loyal Customer Base Provides Stability
Eric Partaker, co-founder of Mexican restaurant Chilango spoke candidly about the story of his brand and the challenges they have overcome to be in the position they are in today. With 11 sites in prime locations, Chilango’s offer can be summed up in one word, vibrancy, and Eric certainly epitomised this during his presentation.
Chilango have maintained a loyal customer base throughout their existence and this has paid dividends in the long run, with crowd funding campaigns and the innovative ‘Burrito Bond’ raising money in times of need. Chilango’s ability to earn a passionate following has been a key element of their success, and, judging by Eric’s optimism, there’s plenty of opportunity for Mexican restaurants to thrive in the current climate.
Simon Chaplin, Head of Pubs & Restaurants at Christie & Co gave us a detailed rundown of current property trends within the hospitality industry. Simon provided insight into the operational headwind we are currently facing, and explained how operators are finding success by embracing new technologies such as intelligent scheduling systems. When questioned about exit multiples, Simon ensured to differentiate between selling assets site-by-site, as opposed to in bulk. The resulting message was that selling multiple sites will yield greater success, with potential buyers believing they are acquiring a bigger prize.
Delivery is on the Rise
Hays Macintyre and Propel’s collaborative survey provides a helpful industry benchmark. Gareth Ogden presented this year’s results and delved into the trends behind the numbers. Gareth discussed the increasing impact delivery services are having on the food and beverage sector. Using delivery services provides customers with a more varied offer, however this may negatively impact margins for operators. Delivery reduces opportunities to up-sell products within the venue and typically no alcohol is sold. This leads to lower margins and therefore must be considered when promoting delivery.
Follow Your Feelings
Roger Wade discusses Boxpark
Drawing proceedings to a close in a forthright manner was Roger Wade, founder of the ingenious shipping container food and beverage offering that is BoxPark. With a background in branding, it is no surprise to see Roger putting his stamp on BoxPark and creating a truly unique experience for customers. At the core of Roger’s talk lay an underlying theme – trust your feelings. Modern systems provide operators with unparalleled analytical insight, which considered in tandem to the instincts of an experienced professional is a likely formula for success.
With a new BoxPark site opening up in Wembley, this immersive hospitality experience of food, beverages, and events will be sure to attract a crowd.
At S4Labour we’re dedicated to helping the best get even better by helping them control costs, maximise efficiency, drive sales, and save time. This provides a framework for long-term success that allows operators to pursue their passions and make their visions a reality. Click here for more information on how S4Labour could help your business.
It was a privilege to spend the day in the company of so many inspiring hospitality professionals. The talent and diversity within our industry was evident to see. We will look forward to hearing from more of the best in 2018.