Finally, it looks as though the season we have all been waiting for, the busy restaurant season, is upon us. Tax season just ended. The rain in California will probably end this week, and cabin fever, that symptom of enclosure that people in the snowbound heartland, Vermont, and the Northeast often suffer from, has officially been cured until next year at this time. Easter, came late this year, and, as always is the beginning of the season all restaurant owners wait for. But usually, we get a slight busy bump after Easter and then tax season helps slow the momentum down. This year since both fell on the same weekend, business will probably accelerate like a Ferrari at Infineon. From now on, weekends will be busier, mid week will begin to fill in and the week´s beginning will seem like weekends did just months ago.
The news signifies one important element of restaurant business seasonality – you need to ramp up faster than you have in the past. Thankfully, there won´t be any slow down now for months – great news for the register and the bank account- the vendors will be especially happy. But, if you don´t bring in staff quickly, service will suffer, customers will become dissatisfied, and your competition could benefit from your failure.
I was discussing this problem with a colleague over the weekend. He told me that last Saturday morning, after tossing and turning all Friday night, his wife got up at 5:00 am, went to her computer and began posting a job on an online posting board in order to solve the problem her restaurant was facing. I am sure that my friend´s wife was not the only person worried about filling staff vacancies. But worrying about the problem won´t solve it.
Posting on the numerous job boards and restaurant employment sites is a good idea. However, if you have done this in the past three months, go through the old resumes that you received. Possibly one of those applicants is either still looking for a job, ready to change jobs, or could be talke into changing positions because the person handling your hiring is charismatic, congenial and professional on the phone. And, the opportunity you offer is better than the dead end road they are now traveling.
Ask members of your staff if they know of anyone looking for a job. Waiters and waitresses all hang together- it´s a club- once the word gets out you may have more applicants than you need.
If your operation is truly seasonal restaurant — almost closed in the winter and totally over booked in the summer – look up some of the staff that worked for you last summer. Often, they have gone away to college or if they have brothers and sisters that may be looking for work, find out. Have your manager call and see what their availability is.
And, don´t forget to let your manager know what he or she is about to face. In many cases, managers of slow in the winter restaurants don´t make it through the slow seasons and have already been replaced. Remember though, if your manager is a recent hire, don´t forget to brief that person on how difficult it is to go from a dead stop to a full house in the matter of a week.
And, most importantly, get ready the worst is behind us for another year.