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Navigating Labor and Staffing Costs During the Holiday Season

Holiday season has a way of getting hectic for event companies and, for most caterers, there is a fine line to walk to avoid stretching your business and your staff too thin. On one hand, the lucrative opportunities are aplenty; yet, on the other, holiday pay adds up. Plus, your employees are people, too—they should also be granted time to spend with family during this busy season!

When you find a happy work/life balance for yourself and your team this season, you will come back recharged and refreshed in order to take 2022 by the reins and steer it toward success.

While we might be in the thick of fall, the winter holidays are just around the corner. It is time to get your staffing plans in order so you can navigate the busy season with ease. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind as you look ahead to the colder months.

Get crystal clear on your staffing sweet spot.

While understaffing an event is a nightmare waiting to happen, overstaffing is a recipe for waste and low profit margins. If you have not run your numbers yet, take some time to crunch out your labor needs for every type of event. Consider elements like guest count, number of courses, serving style, bar types, and venue size—each of these influence the amount of support needed for an event. While it is important to remain flexible, setting baseline expectations will help you realistically budget your staff’s pay and time throughout the season.

Pad your expectations to be proactive.

When planning labor needs, be mindful about leaving a little wiggle room in case of emergency. COVID-19 is still a concern, so be prepared for last-minute call-offs and scheduling changes if an employee or their family member falls ill. This holiday season, it will be essential to remain agile and adaptable as the situation is always evolving. On the same note, client events may be postponed or cancelled due to illness, which may leave a gap in the workflow. It may be tricky to navigate at times, but if you stay flexible and roll with the punches, you will make it through!

Consider adjusting your labor rates.

If you expect to pay your team more during the holidays, make sure that your pricing reflects those rates accordingly. When you charge more for labor, you can compensate your staff better which ultimately leads to higher morale and better performance. Do not be afraid of pushback — instead, educate prospective clients about what it takes to produce their perfect event and how your company will do that despite the current labor shortage. High demand and high quality requires a rate to match.

Pricing is one of the more subjective parts of running a business, which often makes it a touchy subject. However, you can overcome the challenge by staying true to your numbers, charging your true value, and compensating your team accordingly. If you do, you will navigate the busy holiday season without worrying about your bottom line. 


Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.