For many caterers, the fourth quarter will make or break us. For you in the north, the first quarter is the tough quarter, and for those of us in the south, the third quarter is the one that tests our cash management skills and ability to stay positive. Breathing a sigh of relief we see October just around the corner—time to make some serious money to close out the year.
As I write this article I’m away on vacation in northern Florida. For me, a vacation does not mean a total escape from work, but it does mean some time to truly think about where we’ve been in the first part of the year, where we are now, and where we need to be, come December 31st.
My team has been working on a number of initiatives this summer, and perhaps some of what we’ve been working on will apply to you. Here are some but not all of them:
• Staff Recruitment for the Season
• Training and Re-Training our Core Staff and New Recruits
• Updating Menus, Costing and Pricing
• Tweaking and Updating our Standard Operating Procedures
• Business Development
• Updating Operating Budgets
• Review of All Marketing Initiatives Include Updating Websites
• Settling in to Two New Venues
• Implementing a Catering Software System
We held a two-day management team retreat in July and holed up for two days in Miami Beach to update our strategic plan, discuss operational challenges, and plan for the next six months. In January we will reconvene at another retreat and review what we’ve accomplished over the rest of the third quarter and the fourth quarter.
We all know that failing to plan is planning to fail. Every one of us has been burned by not doing the planning necessary before business explodes during the busy months. Among them, not enough trained staff, outdated menus, marketing that does not produce enough leads, and wasted hours because of inadequate standard operating procedures that create extra work for everyone.
The Worse Case Scenario
All of these initiatives and projects are easy to procrastinate since they are not urgent. We all tend to do the easy things and the urgent things and leave the important things for later. Before we know it, its fourth quarter and we’re running from event, to party to wedding, many time putting out fires…and the important projects that we should have completed are still not done. This is the worst case scenario and we’ve all been there.
And because we did not do the proper planning, profits and sales suffer, operational issues crop up that could have already been resolved, staff is not ready and trained for crunch time and everyone is more exhausted than necessary. Think sailing with the wind on calm seas rather than struggling stormy seas trying to sail into the wind. Which would you prefer?
Taking some time to focus on how you invest your time will pay your great dividends. We all can do better managing our time…yours truly included. It’s easy to get off track and waste time doing the easy thing and the urgent things. I still like to take the daily deposit to the bank myself. Certainly it’s fun and easy but if I was to compute my hourly rate of pay, it’s a terrible waste of time.
If you’re serious about dealing with more of the important issues then I highly recommend you buy a book on time management. And then make some time to read it and start using some of the ideas and techniques. I just did that, even though I’m going to be 70 years young on August 15th…I live my the motto, you’re never too old and it’s never too late.
Get Fresh August 2015