Preparing for summer – TIPS for hospitality businesses

With 34 years of helping hospitality businesses to improve, grow, develop and expand, there isn’t much the team at Paperchase does not know about the industry. Getting ready for summer should be on every operator’s agenda right now, so, here are a few tips from the team at Paperchase.

With summer almost upon us, you will be in the throes of dusting off the outside furniture, ordering more pink wines and fizz, staffing up, introducing summer menus, and getting ready for the rush!

If you are not, after 34 years of helping hospitality business to improve, grow, develop and expand, there isn’t much the team at Paperchase does not know about the industry. Getting ready for summer should be on every operator’s agenda right now, so, here are a few tips from the Paperchase team.

Get your Finances in Order

With increased levels of business flooding into your restaurant over the summer months, you and your team are going to get busy. If you’re struggling to keep on top of finances and admin right now, when the summer arrives you may struggle. Paperchase Account Manager, Tushar Patel, gives advice on how to prepare for that summer rush!

With businesses anticipating a robust summer trading period following Covid, cashflow and expense management will remain a key focus due to inflation remaining stubbornly above 10%. Reviewing weekly reports and monitoring against budgets will ensure tight control on GPs and that expenses are managed to maximise the revenue uptick, particularly if the weather is good. That said, some establishments consider closing during the peak holiday period of August, especially, now that travel is unrestricted again, however that is a brave decision to make.

Consider leveraging technology to drive efficiency and free up management time to focus on business and operational matters before the summer rush. Remaining flexible and ensuring that there are sufficient staff to cope with any summer rush while not committing to permanently hire is key, to capitalise on any increased revenue to maximise profit.

Operationally, the focus needs to be on managing unexpected events, for example, repairs in peak times which can cost you dearly. Be cautious and plan ahead, asking ‘are all your important pieces of kitchen and bar machinery and equipment well serviced?’, as servicing costs will be less than an emergency callout in peak, busy periods.

Lastly, checking your budget and forecasts, making sure that the team are all in the loop about your financial goals for the summer period and all working towards it. Rota planning, setting daily sales targets for waiters and bar staff, maybe creating internal games or score charts with ‘prizes’ as that can help to motivate your teams. This will cost you very little to do, but helps you build daily sales.

Staff Up for Summer

Do you need to take on temporary summer staff to capitalise on the extra trade? If you have HR in-house, or are using an outsource to provide that advice, great, you’re covered. If you don’t have HR support, you would be wise to have a conversation with someone that can help you to take on those temporary staff, as you may be releasing them after the summer rush. Zoe Jackson of Citrus HR provides some advice.

As the summer approaches, you may well be taking on temporary summer staff, so preparing for increased staffing levels will be key. If you don’t have HR support, you would be wise to have a conversation with someone that can help you take on temporary staff then release them after the summer rush. There are time-saving online HR software packages that can also help small to medium sized businesses to reach their full potential with help from industry experts. Before going into the summer, feel safe in the knowledge that you have the following covered:

  • Ensure you have employment contracts and a staff handbook to keep you legally compliant.

  • Know where to get HR advice from our qualified consultants and employment lawyers whenever you have a question or issue.

  • Easy-to-use software gives you instant access to all your staff information and saves hours of admin time.

In big cities, like London, some businesses will become quiet during the summer period as their clientele leave for holidays, so look at your staff holiday rota and start encouraging people to take leave as opposed to having too many people around when you actually need them. Then, there is training. Don’t underestimate the time it takes to onboard and train new staff. If you are going to have a great team for summer, then you need to plan your recruitment accordingly and train them well now.

Optimise Outdoor Space

With over 30 years as a restaurateur, running multiple sites all over the UK, Simon Binder has seen many, many summers. Planning ahead for a good summer season can reap rewards. Here are Top-Tips from Simon Binder, Chairman of Paperchase.

After 30+ years as a restaurateur, I have seen many, many summers, and each summer presents the same logistical challenges: attracting more business, being the ‘hot ticket’ on the high street, making the best of the space you have, whilst providing a cool outdoor vibe. Planning ahead for a good summer-season can reap rewards. Here are some of my Top-Tips.

If you have an outdoor space, use it, as when the sun shines customers look for the most appealing restaurant with outdoor drinking and dining, be that garden, terrace, pavement or patio. Time to dust off that outdoor furniture and make sure you have everything you need for a successful summer. Does anything need fixing/replacing? Do you have all of the ‘accoutrements’ for outside dining? Think about how you will service these tables for maximum efficiencies? Do you have enough PDQs for the additional outside payments? Do you want to think about QR codes for menus and ordering?

If your outdoor space is on the pavement, then you will need a Pavement License, granted by the local authority. This will allow you to place removable furniture over the highway adjacent to the premises. A pavement license does not negate the need to obtain approvals under other regulatory frameworks, such as the need for a license to sell alcohol, and the need to comply with registration requirements for food businesses. For advice, speak to your Local Authority.

Plan for all occasions. Don’t rely on the weather to bring you sales. We can go through four seasons in one day! Think about what you might need to maximise your space – outside heaters for evening, blankets for the day and umbrellas for shade.

Long range weather forecasting will help you to plan your staff rotas. Knowing when to staff-up or staff-down can help you to plan for the rush and can reduce your staff costs when the weather and trade is slower.

Introduce a summer menu , with dishes the kitchen can create quickly to speed up service, with healthy options and dishes that smack of summer, creating sharing platters for that ‘alfresco’ experience. Think about margins on dishes ‘making sure every dish is a winner’. Think about BBQs vs Sunday Roasts. Pizza ovens – quick food, with great margins and people love seeing them being made.

Aim for Operational Excellence

Our ‘front of house’ expert at Paperchase is Willow Jolly, Director of Client Success. Her input and advice are the glue that makes all this work, tying everything together. Willow has spent her entire career building and motivating teams and ensuring the client is happy.

Whilst preparation is the key, I can’t stress enough, so is training. Well trained staff are confident staff and that results in in better efficiencies, less mistakes, better selling, better recommendations and a better atmosphere. If you don’t have a training programme, now’s the time to create a framework and get ready for your summer recruitment.

Remember, summer needs as much if not more preparation than Christmas. It’s a longer period, it can spin on a sixpence depending on when the sun shines and the entire world decide to eat outside, and you get swamped. Make sure your team managing your bookings and events, your social media, your menus and your website, are all focused on maximising this time of year.

Lastly, think about your music playlist – does it need a summer vibe refresh? Think about a summer uniform for your team working outside, so they are comfortable and warm, if it’s not blazing sunshine. And lastly, have fun!!! If you’ve done all the planning, menu developments, recruitment, training then you are ready and now you need to bring the energy each and every day.

Paperchase is a leading hospitality accountancy, working exclusively with restaurants, bars, pubs & hotels to enhance their performance & development. Their range of accounting, analytical and consulting services help hundreds of hospitality professionals make more informed and profitable decisions every day. To find out more about how Paperchase can support your business please get in contact here.