For many venues, the holiday and Christmas season is critical for ending the year in profit. With office parties, family Christmas gatherings and sunny weather bringing groups out for longer, it’s important for venues to ensure a smooth service. Venues must provide high quality food and atmosphere to keep the crowds coming in and encourage groups return next season.
One of the most difficult aspects of planning for the Christmas rush is ensuring you have the right stock at the right time to meet customer demand. We’ve put together some tips to make sure you have what you need when you need it (but not so much you can’t walk into your walk in, and certainly not so much that food wastage becomes your largest expense).
Check with suppliers:
Make sure all your usual distributors know that you’ll be ordering more at this time. Don’t be afraid to ask if any promotional prices are available, but also check if there will be any changes to deliveries, lead time and production delays. Are they closed on Christmas, what other dates?
Prepare an inventory routine:
When it comes to managing your stock (and everything in foodservice now we think of it), preparation is key. There are a few steps to reaching boss level preparation. First make sure everything on your menu has been loaded into your POS system (including the ingredients it uses) so it can give you alerts if you’re running low on something. Then ensure your whole team is on board. Designating two or three people on your team to be explicitly in charge of inventory will go a long way also.
Count count count:
A couple of people on your team should be running inventory checks regularly. This will mean you have a good idea of what is selling, what isn’t and how your stock levels are holding up day-to-day. This will include expired or spoiled food and incoming stock as well. Armed with this information you will be able to make more informed ordering decisions.
Plan your menus:
If you have group bookings or events coming up in the holiday period, try to get an indication of the food they’ll be ordering ahead of time. Usually this would happen with events regardless but when taking large group bookings perhaps consider a compulsory set menu so customers know what they are getting (and you know what to order!).
Something is spilt, a customer sends something back or you found something past its expiry. Don’t just throw it out and deduct it from your inventory. Make sure you note a reason why. When food doesn’t get sold and it’s still taken from the shelf- you need to know that! When you know what you’ve lost to waste, you can make sense of the impact on your future ordering (and profit and loss!).
Buy smart stock:
Next, start to think about what kind of food you’re buying and how you can streamline that process to eliminate waste and take up less storage space. Have you considered frozen foods for example? This is particularly worthwhile for foods that spoil quickly like bread. Look for something that thaws quickly so it won’t impact on prep time and something with a long frozen shelf life so you don’t need to worry about it going off in storage.
The holiday period brings with it a sense of anticipation (and perhaps a little dread) but if you prepare adequately you will thank yourself on the other side. What other tips do you have when preparing for the busy period? Let us know on our Facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.