At Ham Yard Hotel in London’s trendy Soho neighbourhood, the Christmas season means the smell of mulled wine throughout the hotel, an impressive gingerbread display at the centre of the lobby and lots of guests. “Guests love what we do as festive decorations,” says Sarah Williams, food and beverage manager for the hotel. Ham Yard Bar is the hotel’s restaurant that serves seasonal dishes all day. “Lots of photos are taken and there is always a lot of social media action,” Williams continues. “In the restaurant and bar decorations are very subtle and we rely mainly on the atmosphere to make it feel festive.”
The festive season can be a delight for holiday guests but how do you make sure your staff has the same energy? Williams shared how she manages the team at Ham Yard Bar during the festive season and keeps their spirits high.
Holiday tastings are educational and fun.
At the start of the festive season, Williams and the staff do tastings to go over Christmas specials that will be available for guests. “We schedule food menu tastings, wine tastings and cocktail tastings,” she says. The point is to make servers as familiar with dishes and drinks as possible so they can then recommend these specials to guests. ”It drives revenue,” Williams explains. During tastings you can also cover festive traditions and the history of certain dishes since it will add a bit of info that your team can pass along to guests.
Make sure to over communicate during the festive season.
Over communicate everything, Williams says. “We put together clear guidelines for the festive season which makes the service as easy as possible,” she says. “It is a high pressure time of year but with robust plans and structure, and we want the team to feel as assured and communication to be as clear as possible.” Management is also briefed on how to deal with challenging situations that may come up during the Christmas season and Williams goes over how they can keep the team happy.
Set goals for yourself and for the team.
The festive season is a great time to set sales or product goals for your restaurant. At Ham Yard Bar, Williams and her team set sales goals and let the team know so they can reach them together. “We have exciting incentives in place for all departments and rewards are given out when targets are reached throughout the season,” she says. It adds to the festive atmosphere for the staff. She advises all managers to consider what targets they can be setting for their restaurant. “Have loads of achievable incentives and targets and continuously reward the team throughout the season,” she adds.
To avoid burnout, try to keep schedule the same.
Holidays and the shifts leading up to holidays can be very busy for restaurant teams. Williams says that one of the ways that she avoids burnout on her staff is by trying to keep everyone’s schedule as steady as possible. “We are an operation that is busy all the time but we are also lucky enough to have a set team and headcount in place so even during the festive season shifts are the same length and hours are the same.” Allowing staff to have the same days off as normal gives them a break from the hustle of the season. “Everyone always still gets their days off and even though the shift is non-stop they still have enough rest,” Williams continues. When the season is over, the team gets together to celebrate. “We have our Christmas party in January which is something the team always look forward to.”
Overall, Williams says that the festive season should be a time of year that your staff looks forward to, not dreads. “We work in a very supportive environment and working the festive season is extremely rewarding,” she says. “Everyone pulls together and we all empowered to manage our own schedules and timekeeping. We enjoy the festive season and it is actually something we look forward to each year.”
Get started with OpenTable for Restaurants
We love talking with customers about their unique businesses. Simply fill out the below form and we will call you right back.