Restaurant Managers can never win a popularity contest when they have to be the bearer of bad news about who has to work the holiday! But you can prepare their mind for the upcoming stresses.Speak with your team a few days ahead of the holiday to prepare the mindset. This exercise will ensure more successes than failures during busy holiday dining traffic. The special day will not feel like a holiday to your staff, but more like a demanding and stressful work day. The right attitude will make the time go smoother for everyone working, so discuss the expectations, and help them understand these key factors of holiday diners. Remind them that the holiday dining crowd is not like the average dining crowd. Holiday diners come in two main categories; 1) Planned Dining, and 2) Unplanned Dining.CATEGORY ONE: Planned Dining – These are guests who planned to be at your restaurant because:
They are loyal fans of the food and atmosphere, and they can count on another great dining experience
Your restaurant is offering special holiday meals and seasonal treats at a bargain price
The dinner group agreed to meet there as part of their established tradition, or they are beginning a new tradition
Empty-nesters who live too far from family and don’t want to cook a large meal will go out to dinner on the holiday
Someone who has no one to spend the holiday with plans to eat out alone at a restaurant and hopes for some person-to-person outreach to make the day special
The holiday is not a part of someone’s culture, so they are eating out simply because they want to do it
CATEGORY TWO: Unplanned Dining – Something went wrong at the last minute, so they needed to come to your restaurant because:
Their home-cooked dinner was a disaster
A family emergency got in the way of shopping and preparing the meal
It is the first holiday without a loved one, and they are trying to “get through it”
They are traveling unexpectedly and are in a slight panic in between destinations because so many places are closed for the holiday
A family disruption occurred, and someone had to leave the house to eat elsewhereKnowing about these two types of dining groups will help the team adjust accordingly and better meet the needs of every guest.Also explain these insights:
One thing is for certain – dining guests understand that working the holiday is taking you away from your personal holiday plans. They appreciate your efforts. Higher gratuities are often a result of guests recognizing this.
You are becoming part of their permanent holiday memory; perhaps you are part of a family tradition. That should feel like an honor to be involved. Try your best not to dwell on what you are missing out on by working the holiday, but rather, soak up every moment you are working because you are a huge part of your guests’ holiday dinner!
If diners started out with a bad day, you can be someone who is there to brighten their day. And on the other end of that spectrum, make a conscience decision that you will never be the person who darkens someone’s bright day; if they are having a good day, your goal is to help continue the pattern of the great day they are experiencing. Stretch out the happiness.
When guests arrive in big family groups, tensions could rise just because of that family’s dynamics. Take a smile to the table at every round. If orders get mixed up because of their complex personal preferences that stray from the set menu, breathe deeply and smile. That will help tense guests smile back, and your focus will be sharper since negativity isn’t blurring your concentration.
Parents of cranky children will be very appreciative if you can offer something to comfort the crankiness. What you offer should have no additional cost to the parents. These free offerings could include another paper placemat for coloring, speaking directly to the children so they feel “grown up,” maybe even give them a small lunch-size paper bag and quickly show them how they can make a hand puppet with it. Occupied children hands and minds invite imaginations and structure. The wonderful byproduct of this is that the adults can enjoy themselves at a higher level, and grateful parents will always remember your kindness and patience during hectic moments. They may even dub you as their hero! Guests at neighboring tables will also appreciate your helpfulness that contributed to a quieter dining experience!
The great thing about working during the holiday is that the holiday has an ending time! It’s not forever! Your body may ache more than usual, you may feel like your brain has worked way too hard for one day, and your energy level may be at its lowest. But that’s okay! The work is physically challenging, mentally stimulating, and emotionally rewarding!
A final word to Restaurant Managers – remember that you are a part of your workers’ holiday memories too! Read through these tips again with the approach of how you can translate them into ways you can interact with your employees for the day. You are all in this together; and together everyone can have a great working holiday!
Meloney B. Hall is the Director of Creating Marketing at AGI Hospitality Recruiting, which is the expert in connecting GREAT managers with GREAT employers within the Hospitality/Restaurant Industries. Located in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, AGI has job-opening opportunities across the United States. Contact one of our professional recruiters by phone at 513.731.1359 or email jobs@agimanagement .com for specific information regarding our list of job openings at web: agi.jobs/job-openings Visit our Blog at agi.jobs/blog/