Plan now for a successful summer season

Written by: Jane Handel

Plan now for a successful summer_300x200Mother’s Day is just around the corner. For restaurants, a celebratory brunch for Mom translates to a big boost in sales. But busy holidays like these can add strain to your staff and come with a risk of running out of favorite menu items. With variable seating options (fickle spring weather can eliminate patio seating with little warning!) and crowds, there’s a lot to juggle. In order to deliver an outstanding guest experience on busy days like these—and all the rest—you need to be prepared. While moms enjoy the tradition of waking up to flowers and cards, restaurant operators often struggle with a less cheerful tradition: negotiating a schedule that will adequately address the rise in covers.

Luckily, the right technology can alleviate some of this administrative burden, and ensure that your restaurant is set up for success.

The first step is to more accurately predict exactly what items your restaurant is likely to sell, so that you can make sure you have the right people on the schedule to execute and deliver them. Forecasting for demand gives you the opportunity to match staffing levels with the anticipated activity levels for your restaurant, so you can get the right people in the right place at the right time. 

That’s where Fourth comes in. Our predictive forecasting algorithm takes the mystery out of planning, by using a range of data points to create the most accurate forecast possible. It isn’t enough to base your numbers on the same time last year. There are many variables to consider here—the trickiest of which being the weather, and how it impacts your business.

Our algorithm gathers the required data points and makes it digestible and actionable, giving your managers a clear path forward. It reviews last year’s sales, as well as recent sales trends, and decides which combination of this historical data best correlates to future sales. (For example, sales in January will be based more on last year’s performance than on recent trends, which would include December peak sales and thus skew the data.)

Predictive statistical analysis also adjusts the base forecast for upcoming changes in the weather, by comparing current weather forecasts with the conditions that applied in the raw prediction. The algorithm also considers similar infrequent variables, such as holidays or national events (like Mother’s Day), and allows managers to enter other factors that could impact business (such as local events, a new competitor’s opening, or scaffolding getting in the way of restaurant visibility). All of this information is then taken into account to create an accurate forecast, with anticipated staffing needs calculated down to 15-minute increments.

With a reliable sales forecast set, managers can then set more accurate schedules. With the right systems in place, you can properly record employee time off and calculate the associated costs. This means you’ll have a clear picture of when they’re available and how much holiday they’re entitled to. Not only will you always stay compliant with legislation, but also you’ll be able to maximize your sales potential and minimize bottom-line impact, as you won’t be under- or overstaffed.

Fourth’s integrated workforce management solution handles every aspect of PTO, vacation, and employee absence from scheduling to payroll. It helps ensure that your employee information is always correct and up to date. Employees will have a clear process for requesting time off, while managers have a process for approving it. You’ll get an accurate picture of who is available when. You can stagger employees’ start times to meet fluctuations in demand, and can use analytical tools to identify those whose attendance record causes concern, so managers have a better opportunity to share tangible feedback. Your managers will be empowered to set schedules that match anticipated demand, while reducing the amount of last-minute changes.

With integrated systems and the right tools at their disposal, hospitality operators can be successful all year round, maximizing efficiency and profitability on holidays that drive more traffic to the restaurant and slower days alike.

To learn more about demand forecasting and scheduling, download our Science of Scheduling white paper. To see how Fourth can help your business achieve more, get in touch with us here.

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