Too often in this business, proprietors celebrate and live it up during the busy times. That is great, and you should be doing that, but you also have a responsibility to your employees to keep the place open and to take care of the joint.
Slow in January?
Well, let’s see now…You have been open for five years now, and one thing you know, it will be slow after the holidays. Maybe this will be the year that you are prepared for it.
If you are like every other restaurant in the world, you are probably pretty darn busy from about mid-November through the rest of the year. Good for you. Save some of that money! You know the slow period is coming. You are still going to need to buy some product. You are still going to need to make payroll.
It doesn’t stop there
Is the place starting to look a bit dingy? Need a new paint job? New flatware? New dishes? New wine glasses? Well, where is that money going to come from? I will tell you–from your busy time. So save that money to have for use down the road.
Pay attention to the trends in your place. Are summers busy? Slow? Be prepared! I have noticed that around the third week of March restaurant business tends to slow down. Why? Because families go away for spring break! Does this happen to you? Then be ready for it.
You can’t control the spending habits of your servers–you can barely control your own spending habits–but you can do your best to remind these servers (who depend on tips from a busy restaurant) that winter is coming (sorry, had to steal from Game of Thrones). Warn them that they are going to probably be scheduled one less day a week and should start budgeting for it now. You can at least suggest it so you will sleep a little better.
I know many places that close for a week or two in January, or in the summer, whenever they know it is going to be slow. What a great idea! You know it is going to be dead, why not? Just give your employees a little warning so they can prepare for it too. No point in staying open if there isn’t going to be any business.
A point I bring up often with consulting clients and with my students. Plan ahead. You have been doing this a while, so you have no excuses. Save for that rainy day!