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Lightspeed’s Last-minute Christmas & New Year’s Checklist: 10 tips for seasonal success

Lightspeed’s Last-minute Christmas & New Year’s Checklist: 10 tips for seasonal success

It’s December again—mid-December, to be exact.

And as the mercury rises in tandem with Mariah Carey’s/Michael Bublé’s Spotify streams, the end of year festivities are already well underway.

And though time may be running out for you to cram in some last-minute gift shopping, there’s still just enough time for you to implement a few initiatives in your venues to ensure this Christmas and New Year’s can be as profitable as possible.

So without further ado, here’s Lightspeed’s last-minute Christmas and New Year’s checklist: 

  1. Specialised roster
  2. An efficient menu
  3. No rules to surcharging (kind of)
  4. The easy upsell
  5. A well-planned inventory
  6. Clear communication
  7. Last-minute merch
  8. Adapt your marketing
  9. Understand your waste management
  10. Seasonal review

5 Tips to Manage Public Holiday Costs in Your Venue

Discover five simple and effective ways to grow margins and balance the higher costs of operating on public holidays.

1. Specialised roster

Your venue’s bustling trade means nothing if you don’t have the right amount of staff to run it. This goes both ways too: too few staff and your customer service standards take a hit, risking the dreaded 1-star Google review and the reputation that accompanies it. Too many staff and you’re flushing money down the drain in unnecessary wages—and this goes double for shifts where you have to pay reward rates.

Make sure each section of each venue is staffed accordingly. Analyse previous year’s trading patterns to give yourself as much information as possible when creating your rosters, but leave enough flexibility so that you cover your end and aren’t left in the weeds if things get busy. I’m talking overlapping shifts and promoting the idea of management pitching in on the front lines, if needed. Essentially, everybody needs to pull together and in the same direction, otherwise things can start unravelling quite quickly.

And finally, spare a thought for your staff. It’s an important time of year for them too, so make sure they each get enough time to spend with their loved ones and aren’t burned out working back-to-back shifts at one of the busiest times of the year.

2. An efficient menu

We already know the festive season is going to be busy. People have had a year’s worth of work and they’re ready to let their hair down and cut loose for a few weeks. 

This isn’t the time to experiment with your offerings.

Keep your menus as simple as possible. You could even consider offering a reduced ‘Summertime Menu’ with easy to prepare, high profit-yielding favourites that the kitchen can comfortably handle at bigger volumes.Chefs preparing fast casual food in back of house

For large bookings, impose a set menu so that your kitchen knows exactly what they need to prepare and how much.

It’s all about getting as many orders in and out with high quality, high speed and high profitability. 

3. No rules to surcharging (kind of)

We’re coming into a period laden with public holidays and if you’re planning on being open for some (or even all) of them, you’re going to have to staff up to cope with the crowds.

Under the Hospitality Industry Award, staff should be paid 2.25 times their normal hourly rate on public holidays, and 2.5 times if they are casual. Multiply this by the amount of staff working on a busy Boxing Day shift and you’ll begin to see why adding a surcharge becomes almost essential.

Unlike credit card surcharges, there’s pretty much no rules when it comes to a public holiday surcharge, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Any surcharge you do impose has to be clearly signed and communicated to your customers. This is more or less the only real rule around public holiday surcharging.

And two, keep your surcharge within a reasonable limit. Tacking on an extra 50% is only going to see you lose customers. A good range is between 10-20%.

4. The easy upsell

Even with surcharging, operating costs are going to get a little bit pricey. It makes sense to try and squeeze every ounce of profit from your service and there’s an easy way to do it: upselling.

It doesn’t have to be an aggressive push with every transaction. Rather, some carefully chosen, natural-feeling suggestions when the opportunity arises.

Things like wine pairings with your tasting menu, larger servings for sides or pints at schooner prices. It’s all upselling even if it doesn’t feel like it is.

5. A well-planned inventory

Margins in hospo venues are tight as it is, and with the increased operating costs at the business end of the year, there’s little to no room for error.

One way to gain a bit more control over your costs is to be savvy with your inventory management. With a pinch of research and a dash of planning, you can rein in your expenses and reduce wastage to set you on a path to profitability.

inventory managementAgain, this is the time to pour over your past inventory data to see what was sold in previous years and give you a good idea of how much you’ll need to order this time around.

And because you’ll likely be ordering more than usual, it’s also a good idea to give your suppliers a heads up so that you won’t be left short.

6. Clear communication

It’s going to be a stressful few weeks. Your customers are going to get rowdy and your staff are going to be pushed to their limits. No time has ever called for a calm head like the festive season.

And whilst it’s difficult to keep your customers subdued and well-behaved, it’s easier to keep your staff’s stress levels to a minimum. Keep communication constant, clear and constructive. Let it flow both ways by listening to your staff and remain sympathetic.

Again, now’s the time for everybody to be pulling together in the same direction, and that demands good communication all around.

7. Last-minute merch

As the date draws nearer to the 25th, so too does the desperation of last-minute shoppers as they simultaneously search for the perfect gift and kick themselves that they didn’t do this weeks ago.

There is the opportunity for you to come to their rescue.

Put together some merch packs and position them next to your tills to provide salvation to the many of us who are lax in our holiday gift buying. A simple hamper of your homemade products, or a selection of t-shirts, tote bags and hats make for excellent last-minute gifts and equally-excellent moneymakers.

8. Adapt your marketing

With your new wine pairing and merch in place, you’ll need to spread the word.

Dedicate some of your budget to an enhanced marketing campaign to get the news out. It doesn’t have to be a full-page ad in the Sydney Morning Herald or a billboard on Military Road.

Instead, create some posts for your social media accounts and put some money behind promoting them. That way, your target audience gets the news about your not-to-be-missed holiday deals delivered straight to their phones.

9. Understand your waste management

With added trade comes added waste, no matter how hard you try to be net zero, and that waste needs somewhere to go.

Give your waste management schedule a once over and see if you can increase the frequency for the next few weeks to ensure your loading dock isn’t overcome with mountains of recyclables and unavoidable food scraps.

10. Seasonal review

Once the dust has settled and the gyms start filling up with well-meaning souls intent on upholding their annual pledge to better themselves by hogging the dumbbells and not wiping down their benches, it would be wise to conduct a post-holiday review.

Analyse your data and identify the areas where you succeeded and, more importantly, the areas where you can improve. Invite your staff to provide feedback too, so that you can get every angle of the story before implementing any improvement measures.

With Australia Day on the horizon, there’s the perfect opportunity to roll some of these measures out as a test run for the upcoming Easter/Anzac Day craziness.

And by the time next December rolls around, armed with the knowledge gained from your learnings this year, it’ll hopefully go smoother than Bing Crosby’s rich, velvety voice as Spotify gives ‘White Christmas’ another spin.

Season’s greetings from Lightspeed

As the curtains draw on another bustling year-end celebration, we hope the lessons above will pave the way for a smooth ride in the coming weeks. 

From strategic staffing to careful inventory management, the art of upselling and a smart marketing campaign (not to mention the valuable insights gathered from your post-holiday review), you should be well-equipped to deal with the crowds both this year and beyond.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Public Holiday Surcharge: Should Your Venue Charge It?

Learn more about surcharging in your venues this holiday season with our guide to all things public holiday surcharging!


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