How do you deal with all the hubbub of the holidays? In my business, this week alone our revenue is approximately equal to the revenue we generate in the four months combined of June, July, August, and September. Here’s how I handle this huge rush of business: First of all, lots of prayers! Second of all, planning is key—and we’ve been planning for this week and the week before, and the two weeks that follow for months.
We start with recruiting and training back in September and October. We have hired a number of event supervisors with extensive experience, as well as a culinary team that rocks.
Of course, all of this hiring and training costs money…lots of money…and in a way it’s a gamble that the sales team can produce the clients during the holidays and beyond to support the staff. In our case, they have.
As the owner, I delegate all of the operational responsibilities to others. I am available to help wherever I am needed. While I was writing this I was told that we need five more cooks for Saturday night in Boca Raton. I called our Boca event producer and she is on it.
At my commissary I have a shortage of parking for all of our trucks and rental trucks. Since we’re in a condo, I’ve had to outsource and pay for staff parking two blocks away. We’ve also had to rent a warehouse where we can keep all of our hard goods as well as receive goods there. Growing pains are at their best and worse!
With sales growth this year of over 40 percent I did what I should have done in the 1980s and bought an 8,000 square-foot building, and am currently building it out to (hopefully) meet our needs at least for the next five years. Once completed we will finally have our culinary, ops, and sales team all under one roof.
By next year I won’t have the parking issue, but knowing the business like I do, there will be a whole new set of problems to deal with.
I am blessed with a great team who work well together under pressure. This eases the level of worry, but still things can head south quickly…and that’s why as the owner I’m on pins and needles 24/7, ready to deal with whatever rears its ugly head. My schedule is clear through the New Year with no meetings other than the essential ones. I am ready to jump in and help where needed.
On the financial front, the revenue and margins are large and make up for the slower summer months—but it’s a good example of the 80/20 rule that I write about often. We make 80 percent of our revenue and profits in 20 percent of the months.
This is my 36th season as a business owner and my 47th season overseeing catered holiday events. So what sage advice can I give you to help you get through the rest of the season?
Bill’s Top Ten Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season
1. Talk to your family about your job requirements, letting them know they will see little of you. However, give them things to look forward to once you’re through the busy time: Trips, long weekends, etc.
2. Do all you can to eat right, drink lots of water, and try to work in some catnaps. Short naps will help keep you alert when you have to work into the wee hours.
3. Remember you can’t do everything yourself. Ask for help…don’t be proud. Hire often and hire smart.
4. If you’re an owner or manager, jumping in and working side-by-side your team goes a long way to show you care and that you’re not too proud to help them out.
5. Give lots of pats on the back to your team and if you can, little gifts go a long way to help them get through the long hours.
6. Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. We all make mistakes, and sometimes some self-depreciating humor goes a long way when you screw up.
7. Drive safely—accidents can happen when you’re tired.
8. Owners, managers, and supervisors should watch expenses, but don’t freak out over overtime. It’s going to happen no matter how well you think you’ve planned.
9. Treat your staff with dignity and respect, and when you can let them leave early…do so. They need their rest.
10. Lastly, ring in the New Year with a few days off before you tackle 2016!
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