New Year´s Eve and the 500 plus reservations had already begun showing up. The bar was full. The kitchen´s pace was escalating — the chef´s tone was noticeably different from just moments earlier. Waiter´s assistants were rapidly filling water pitchers preparing for the expected onslaught of revelers. 2007 was just hours away.
When the first credit card was processed, lights atop the processing machine flashed "Limit reached – please call your processor´. The last thing anyone needed that night, especially my brother-in-law, Donald, was something to happen early in the evening to break the rhythm that had just begun in his Frisco, Texas restaurant.
"When I called the credit card company the customer service guy said I had reached my limit and that I couldn´t process any more credit cards until Tuesday. I never heard of anything so stupid. I was trying to give them money, not spend theirs. I spoke to the manager and called him every name in the book. Finally, they increased the limit so I could sell more food. Those bas——. Other than that, everything went very smoothly. It was a great night. The bar was packed at midnight and we did a record number of covers," Don said when I asked him how his New Year´s Eve went.
Isn´t that always the way with a banner night´s potential. We seldom have any control over the obstacles that appear in front of us constantly impeding perfection.
Where´s the preventative medicine for those ills?
Take a deep breath. The good news and the bad news- it´s over. Where do we go from here? Naturally, we want to kick back, relax, and take a few weeks off from the hectic hours that we recently endured. We deserve it. But, before we go and forget about the important things needing attention make a list. It will be on your desk when you get back. Here are a few suggestions:
1). Call your credit card company and increase your projected yearly credit card processing volume. It may not matter a lot now, but on New Year´s Eve, 2008 you´ll be thankful you did.
2). Plan an advertising and promotional calendar for the next six months.
3). Make menu changes to accommodate winter produce availability.
4). Begin a clean up and fix-it list.
5). Schedule employee performance reviews for the next two months if you haven´t given employees a review during the past year.
6). Update your employee manuals to reflect recent changes in minimum wage laws.
7). Get three quotes on new workmen´s compensation coverage.
8). Establish a staff-training calendar and plan to initiate the program.
9). Develop an email advertising campaign for the first quarter of the year and adhere to the schedule.
10). Send out a thank you to all of your customers for a great year and invite them in for a complimentary cocktail with dinner in January, February or March.
Enjoy the quiet.