March Shows and Events

March Shows and Events

During March, S4labour will be at multiple events, showcasing the system and speaking to existing and future customers. We would love to catch up with you and show you what’s new.

We will be manning stands on various dates, if you are attending one of the following, click on the image and book a slot for a chat. 

How being a “grabber” was a spring board to great things.

How being a “grabber” was a spring board to great things.

People that know me are always shocked to hear that I suffered with lack of confidence when I was a younger. It was while doing a culinary course at college that I won pastry chef of the year, and I discovered I loved the kitchen! I still love baking today but being host in FOH was when my confidence blossomed. I always remember one of my college professors saying, “you should be earning your age!”, so I made it my target to do just that and landed a role at Mitchell & Butlers. I was very lucky, I had a great manager, who coached me to be the best me, and always said “Lisa be a grabber!”. She volunteered me for everything, and I soon was attending all the courses I could, supporting other business and really gaining exposure; this rocketed my career. My first promotion came after my first year to Assistant Manager, then Deputy Manager the following year. From then, I started putting myself forward for cover roles and heading to other business to provide cover.

Lisa is S4labour’s Customer Training Manager. She has a lifetimes experience in the hospitality sector, having been, amongst other roles, a general manager of a premium country pub for Mitchells & Butlers.

After a successful 6-month maternity hold, I got the keys for my very first business. I will never forget the excitement of hanging my brass licensee plaque, and how proud my family were of me; I was only 23! I had achieved so much in the 4 years since leaving college and grown into such a different person. This was all down to being a grabber, and making the most of every opportunity I could. I even featured in the Career Mail for having such a successful career at my age. I loved being a landlady and continued to grab every opportunity I could. I really wanted to drive my career into a full time learning and development role and started seeking additional roles such as district trainer or people champion; I also did a foundation degree in managing in service industries. My career has been propelled by training at every opportunity. I’m still a grabber and will put my hand up for any additional training that’s available.  

Why Training Matters In Hospitality

Why Training Matters In Hospitality

Getting people to change the way they do things is no easy task, often a simple change feels impossible. It can be easy for us as leaders to see the problem and get frustrated when others can’t. Similarly, we get annoyed when people don’t act when we give them the advice needed to change.

Lisa is S4labour’s Customer Training Manager. She has a lifetimes experience in the hospitality sector, having been, amongst other roles, a general manager of a premium country pub for Mitchells & Butlers.

,Back when I was General Manager of a country pub, I remember getting frustrated with the team letting the fire go out. It was on the task list, and getting it going in the morning was no problem but it would always die out just as lunch got really busy! When I pointed out to the team that it had gone out, they would rush to re light it, spending ages doing it because of the ash build up and having to use more expensive kindling to get it going again. We were all busy and during service the fire seems like the last thing on the to do list, but the reality is, add a shovel of coal or a log at the right time is all that it needed, so it must have been something else? When eventually I stopped and questioned if I was missing a trick, I realised I needed to change a couple of things if I wanted this to land. I needed to share why it was important, both from an atmosphere point of view and a cost point of view to keep the fire going and not letting it die out and re-light it. Additionally I needed to stop delegating and disowning the task.  All the tools were there, the equipment they needed but I hadn’t encouraged the right habits. As soon as I spent time getting them to understand why it was important and encouraging them by reminding them even with a simple “Your fire looks instagramable, your challenge is to keep it looking like that all day” then reminding them throughout service with a simple reminder, habits started to form and eventually the fires continued to roar throughout the day and the team could focus on giving great service and all the other things that helped push our spend per head up.


The example I give was a simple task and it took a while to get the right habits in with all the different people involved to make an impact and change the way we did things. Every change still had its challenges, some more than others. I know change is hard and some people adapt quicker than others, however, this is where I get my buzz, because this is where we reap all the great rewards change brings, like improved team happiness and retention, improved sales growth, high net promoter scores and that’s what makes it exciting.


S4labour is a fantastic tool, I wish I had that level of visibility to allow me to make better decisions, it would have helped me to develop more confidence in my commercial decision making, but the challenge doesn’t stop with having the right software. It’s like being a member of the best gym in the world and not going or just walking on the treadmill a couple of times a week and expecting the results. Sometimes to get the most out of the gym we need a personal trainer to show us, guide us and give us a plan to work on when were on our own to ensure we get the most out of that gym membership and get the results we deserve and expect. It is the results that change brings that inspire the team around us too in other areas of the business.  I spent a lot of time supporting my district to achieve a successful training culture and shaped my career and moved into different learning and development roles. So when I joined S4labour I was able to  draw on my experience of running pubs, developing leaders and creating training interventions to create these effective masterclass programmes. The training programmes will embed and promote good habits within labour management. Each programme explores why the habit is important and then how you can implement them, inspiring positive change, strong leadership and sustainable changes, ensuring companies get the most out of S4labour seeing the results they deserve. 

Find out more about the training programmes that are available from S4labour. The courses are desiged for organisations who are looking to improve their labour habits. You do not need to be an S4labour user to take the training programmes.

Advice for a Successful Christmas

Advice for a Successful Christmas

The festive period is a bustling time of year for hospitality businesses. It’s not just an opportunity to boost your sales, providing customers with exceptional service during December is a sure-fire way to drive repeat custom and build momentum for the new year. 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 & Upsells


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. You should ensure to accommodate for these guests, and premiumisation of your list to interesting options is a good way to do so. Alcohol-free spirits are no longer seen as an expensive gimmick, they can provide a genuine taste of the party for those that maybe don’t have the choice to indulge in something a little more intoxicating. Soft drinks are also typically high margin items, so now is a perfect time to spruce up your offer.


Over the Christmas period, far fewer people are looking for an early night, so if you have dining guests, remember to brief your waiting team to offer everyone a coffee after dinner or even something a little stronger, before running the final bill.


Making sure your team are aware of upselling opportunities is essential. Students back to earn some Christmas cash aren’t just there to bring the festive cheer, they can be the difference between a party opting for an entry level bottle of fizz and your guests enjoying champagne at five times the price.


Communicate with your Team


Increased demand during December means managers will need to delegate well and make staff aware of their additional responsibilities. Allocating job roles and specific tasks like regularly restocking fridges, refilling ice buckets and topping up stations 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. Visibly thanking your staff for their hard work and treating them to an occasional drink after busy shifts will go a long way to keeping morale high.


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 drinks is a great way to ensure your business not only gets stock levels right over the festive period, but it is guaranteed sales, making your forecasts more robust and helping you better plan your labour requirements and planning.


Having a bookings policy in place, including pre-order expectations for large parties, will allow you to deliver volume effectively and provide better service. Making sure your team have a heads up about big party numbers, timings and other details can both improve their efficiency but also allow them the valuable time needed to upsell and engage with the guests.


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


Capacity Engineering


Many venues will undergo a dramatic transformation during December. Using your 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. Make sure your guests are aware of how long they have a table or space for… of course the key is then ensuring you can deliver the experience they deserve without them feeling rushed. Your team need to be effectively briefed in booking numbers, specific requirements and any potential snagging points or bottle necks (we all know these are inevitable at some point when you’re running at maximum capacity, how well your team are informed can be the make or break of a tough situation).


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 (Temporary events notices) 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.


It goes without saying that all the tools you need boost your sales and reputation are already available in S4labour. SS4shiftsuccess from S4labour is a recently launched shift management and communication tool which gives managers the chance to allocate their team sections, job roles and specific tasks as well as briefing important information such as upsells, incentives and party booking details. The team can get all of the information they need for their shift through our App, ensuring nobody ever misses a briefing again.


Make sure you are getting full use out of S4labour to ensure your teams are scheduled for the optimal times during busy periods. This allows you to take advantage of increased sales opportunities, whilst maintaining high standards of service and driving repeat business.

Tom Marshall is a former Brakspear GM and M&B lead general manager. He is our in house productivty guru with over 12 years expereince managing high profile venues.

November Sales Figures

November Sales Figures

Like for like sales figures grow 6% for hospitality providers in November 2019.

According to analysis of more than 1,500 sites using S4labour software, overall like for like sales grew by 6.0% in November 2019 compared with the same month in 2018.

There was positive like for like growth for both food and drink sales with the split being relatively equal. Food sales grew by 5.5%, with drinks sales up 6.2%.

Like previous months, there was a geographic skew towards London and the rest of the country, with like for likes up 7.5% in the capital, while sites outside London had a positive 5.6% increase in like for likes.

Across the country, it was drinks focused business that saw the greater sales growth in November, with a 6.8% rise in like for like sales, while food led business, who have typically had the better like for like figures throughout 2019, we up 4.9%.

The positive like for likes in November follow modest growth in October and operators will hope that it’s a good signal for Christmas trading.

September Sales Figures

September Sales Figures

Hospitality providers like for like sales drop 3% in September 2019.


According to analysis of more than 1,500 restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and cafes that use S4labour software, sales of both food and drink were down 3% in September 2019 compared to September 2018. The dip in the performance follows 2 months of particularly strong sales over the summer period. 


The figures compare sales of food and drink in September 2019 v September 2018. The low levels of rainfall and higher than seasonal average temperatures that resulted in strong sales performance in September 2018 were not factors for this September and could have dampened appetites for eating and drink out.


Overall, hospitality sites that are drink focused dropped 4.8% in like for like sales and sites that are food focused saw a modest 1.1% decline in like for like sales.


Looking at wet-led pubs, it was a decline of 5.1% in drink sales that was the standout figure. The Rugby World Cup would have helped draw some drinkers into these sites, however the earlier kick off times may have muted the bounce in sales that a major sporting event can bring to drink focused businesses. A fall of 3.7% in food sales further compounded the results at drink focused businesses.


Food focused pubs also faced a small decline in like for like sales in September 2019, although to a more modest extent, with a food slipping by 1.7% and drink 0.2%. The inclement weather compared to the same period in the previous year is likely to have been a significant factor to these figures.