Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays

3 Terrific Tips for Helping Your Staff Thrive All Season Long

Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays | Tabulate

With any luck, you followed a few of our holiday marketing tips, and the customers are now filling up your restaurant to take advantage of your seasonal promotion. Before you get too excited about the promise of increased sales, visits from regulars, and an influx of new patrons, you should first ensure that you’re creating an environment primed for server success during the holiday season.

Yes, you do need people to visit your establishment for it to thrive but having a superior staff to take care of those customers is the foundation to a sensational holiday season. With our 3 tremendous tips, you can prepare your people to deliver top-quality service, food, and beverages to your customers with holiday flair.

#1 Be Upfront with Scheduling and Staffing

To put it another way, remember that your servers and staff are real people who also want to be with their friends and family for the holidays. Yes, you want to have more than enough people to cover the above-average traffic that usually comes with holiday dining, but you won’t find server success if you over-tax your people during one of the most stressful times of the year.

This will require some forethought and planning on your part:

  • Investigate your numbers from previous seasons.
  • Determine when you’ll need more people and how many people that will be.
  • Calculate if you have the space in the budget to bring on seasonal staff.
  • Discuss with your long-term staff what the holiday schedule will look like and when the best times might be for any time off.

Your staff will appreciate that you trust them enough to be reasonable about staffing and holiday time off. Give them the option to make deals and trades with each other – as long as the floor is covered to the level that you deem best. It’s still your restaurant, but your servers and kitchen will like having a bit of voice in their schedules.

#2 Increase Your Communication

Set the Table for Server Success During the Holidays | Tabulate

Let’s take tip #1 a few steps further. We’ve seen far too many restaurateurs share the details promotions with their customers via marketing efforts but forget to do with their staffs. This creates confusion on the part of the patrons when they ask for your seasonal special, only to have the server not know what’s happening. In turn, this creates resentment with your servers because they looked uninformed and unprofessional when presented with the customer’s order.

Ultimately, your poor communication can result in decreased tips for your staff, lower revenue when people can’t order the high-margin special, and bad reviews when your staff can’t fulfill the terms of the promotion to the customer. All the planning you put into your promotion will be for naught because you didn’t put equal effort into cultivating server success.

#3 Invest More Time and Attention Than Usual

Any restaurant manager worth their salt knows exactly how busy and stressful the holidays can be in the food service industry. Just think of everything going on all season long:

  • The customers might be overtly joyful, but underneath, they’re probably stressed about money, family, and schedules.
  • More people are visiting your restaurant, which can mean longer wait times, packed seating areas, and simply more activity in an average shift.
  • Your staff is working longer hours than usual while dealing with the increased customer count.
  • You have to prepare well in advance for any sort of promotion, especially if you’re changing what and how you order from your suppliers.

To truly prepare your servers, staff, and restaurant for holiday success, you need to be an even better leader than normal, and it’s your job to help your people be the best they can be. We recommend the following steps:

  • Create consistent messaging around any promotion or special
  • Take time to train seasonal staff sufficiently
  • Give increased latitude to senior staff to be problem-solvers
  • Address the big issues directly and with clear answers
  • Deliver sincere praise to your staff
  • Provide constructive criticism when something can be improved

Each of these tips increases the burden on you to execute your vision with increased patience, care, and attentiveness, your staff depends upon your leadership to guide them into the great success everyone hopes to achieve. Server success means giving your staff the tools and resources they need to help your customers more effectively, which directly increases the likelihood those visitors spend more on that holiday visit and then return in the future.