The weather is beautiful. The evenings are longer and people want to soak it all in while it lasts. For bars and restaurants with a patio, that means a significant increase in business that may require some adjustments. If you haven't set up a strategy for managing the summer crowds, it is time to get your patio ready for summer. In honor of the first official day of summer, here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of this busy season and meet staffing demands.
Do Some Recruiting and Hire the Best
Figuring out exactly how many people you need on staff isn't an exact science, but you can do everyone a favor by hiring the best people. Experienced and well-trained staff will be able to handle the stress and commotion of a busy night without falling apart. It is important that you trust your servers and bartenders to step up when things get a little hectic.
Before things really ramp up, take some time to reflect on what worked and didn't work last summer. Speak with staff who may have some valuable input about simple changes that could be made. Also, take a look at the performance numbers and see if you can't make some informed predictions about certain days that will be especially busy and may require a few more hands on deck.
Streamline Processes and Communication
It is up to the manager to create and effectively implement processes that will make every part of the waitstaff's job as clear and smooth as possible. If a problem does arise, there should be a plan of action to fall back on. You don't want staff to have to problem-solve in the middle of a busy shift.
A lot of times, it all comes down to clear communication. Depending on your business, this might mean updating technology to make it easier to fulfill and deliver orders. At the very least, it means creating an environment where people feel like they are part of a team and communicate effectively so that everyone can succeed.
Be Patient during Slow Times
The restaurant business tends to work in fits and starts. Your busiest night of the year may be proceeded by two hours where the staff is mulling around filling salt shakers and trying to stay busy. Don't make the mistake of sending people home too early. Otherwise, you may find yourself slammed at 7 p.m. when everyone decides they want to have dinner and a few cocktails on your patio.
Energy and moods are quite contagious. If the manager or a few staff members begin to get frazzled, it can spread like wildfire. Leaders need to stay calm and lend a hand. Projecting an attitude of cool confidence under fire will help everyone else keep it together and perform when things get hectic.
Feature Pre-Made Cocktails
Do yourself a favor and simplify the drinks as much as possible. For example, sangria is a great summer drink that you can mix up in large batches before the crowds descend. Adding it to the menu as a featured special can take some of the load off bartenders and allow customers to get their drinks a little bit faster.
Summer is a typically busy season, but it doesn't have to be a stressful time. Start with the right attitude and a few simple strategies and you can better manage any size crowd and have a smooth service every night. There may be some nights where you wish you had some extra hands, but strong leadership and clear communication can also make a big difference.