Immediately after every holiday season, tired as I may be, I think about next year. I look at a December calendar to see on what day of the week Christmas will be. If it falls mid-week, I’m not that happy, because I know our schedule will not be “clean.” Some companies may be open on the Monday before Christmas Eve, while others may just shut down early, and this scenario means we may have less work. We will also have more staffing issues, because no one wants to work right up to the holidays. This holiday season is optimal for scheduling, however, because Christmas is on a Monday. That means the biggest business day will be Friday, December 22. After that, bookings may be spotty.
The December fallacy
While some catering consultants claim that December should be one of the biggest catering months of the year, I have never found this to be true. The first three weeks are often crazy-busy, but by the time the slow last week is factored in, it’s usually a normal, decent month.
My 2017 predictions
This is what happens when Christmas falls on a Monday, as it does this year:
Week one: November 27 to December 3: Too close to Thanksgiving for any holiday parties. Normal business.
Week two: December 4 to 10: Begin to see some holiday bookings toward the end of the week. Otherwise normal.
Week three: December 11 to 17: One of the two prime weeks. Lots of office building buffets and holiday events, in addition to regular business.
Week four: December 18 to 24: This is the big one. Most customers will want food on December 22. You’ll definitely be ready for a vacation after this one.
Week five: December 25 to 31: Slow week, leftover events, some short-notice calls and possibly a New Year’s Eve event.
How to handle it
Since you are basically doing a whole month’s business in three weeks, take into consideration the stress it’s placing on your equipment, vehicles and staff. Keep enough inventory available to handle last-minute orders. Have a staff meeting before the holiday and explain the major events that you already have booked. Continue to educate your staff about the vagaries of the holiday season; update and inform them of schedule changes as soon as you are aware of them. Put off any big-picture thinking until after Christmas, as your most important job this holiday season is to get the food out on time.
Finally, if you have a great season, spread the wealth and do not be stingy with Christmas bonuses.
My staff and I have been through almost 100 cumulative holiday seasons, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help.
See Michael Rosman at #Catersource 2018
Michael Rosman will teach, “The Game Changing 60 Second Sales Script” at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
When: Sunday, February 18