Make sure you give you and your business enough time to prepare itself.

So, you’ve made it to December—great! That means you’re almost done for the year, but it also means the holiday season is here. This is a very busy time for restaurants. In fact, the National Restaurant Association survey notes that 77 percent of consumers cope with holiday demands by letting restaurants do some of their cooking during the holiday weeks. With this uptick in business, there are three things independent restaurants should watch out for this season to ensure your business is prepared to meet the holiday demand.

A – Account for Extra Foot Traffic

If you haven’t already planned for the rush, you should start now to get your operation ready for the last weeks of the year. One of the highest priorities for the holiday season should be ensuring you have proper coverage. Getting the holiday work calendar out as soon as possible is one way to make sure that you’re prepared in case someone on your team calls out. Having your employees on board for the holidays and allowing time for people to make sure their work and personal schedules are aligned will help alleviate stress during this time of year. 

Don’t forget the uptick in pick-up and delivery orders as well. According to the National Restaurant Association survey, of those that were going to eat out at restaurants, 50 percent said they were planning on ordering takeout or delivery for a gathering at home during the holidays. Not only will the front of your house be busy, but those employees keeping track of online orders will be taxed too. As noted above, ensure those who own this part of the operation have ample coverage in case something comes up.

B – Bulk up on your Supplies

If you’re planning on putting in a bulk order for food and supplies in the coming weeks, you might want to consider your timeline. Remember that even though you may be putting in that order, so are many other businesses that are stocking up ahead of the busy season. So, be sure that you’re not pushing off your orders and think strategically ahead. With this influx of orders coming and shipments that need to be made, understand that the supply chain will be strained during this time of year.

Consider re-forecasting your business supply needs for the season. For those restaurants that rely on imported goods, be open to switching to seasonal menus or domestic-made supplies to help reduce the number of hands the product must go through. Additionally, working with a supplier that is established in the industry to help ensure your goods arrive on time. Choose cleaning products that are part of an established supply chain that can get products into your hands when you need it most. 

Choosing superior products will also help reduce cleaning throughout your establishment, like Dawn Professional Manual Pot and Pan detergent that cleans 58 percent more greasy pots and pans per sink vs Dawn non-concentrated. 

“Having the right supplies is so important,” said chef Christian Gill, who has appeared on Food Network and Netflix and is co-founder and original co-owner of Boomtown Biscuits & Whiskey Pendleton in Cincinnati. “Instead of wasting time and money scrubbing pots, rewashing and polishing glassware, you can focus on better serving your guests and flipping tables faster. All these decisions can make a difference to your bottom line.” 

C – Consider Holiday Deals 

We’ve talked about a few different ways to prepare your restaurant to receive guests, but we also wanted to share our thoughts on how to attract customers to your restaurant. We’ve all felt the subtle yet impactful push that inflation has had on small businesses, and that impact is top-of-mind for consumers this year. According to the National Restaurant Association study, 89 percent of consumers who plan to dine in at restaurants will consider deals or specials when choosing their restaurant. Even though many are dining out, making sure that you’re offering incentives to walk through the door can make the difference between a slow and busy holiday season.

While having incentives during the holiday season is great, you want to make sure that those deals are getting to the eyes of your diners—66 percent of those planning takeout are making their choices based on marketing emails from restaurants. If you don’t yet have an email distribution list, consider adding to your social media or even adding to your menu to get your repeat customers interested.

The holiday season can feel daunting, but as the saying goes “proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance”. Getting your establishment ready for the holiday season can be challenging, so, make sure you give you and your business enough time to prepare itself for the end of one year to enter the next one on a positive!

Bryan Smith is Vice President North America for P&G Professional, the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble. P&G Professional helps businesses shine with a portfolio of trusted brands. Smith joined P&G in 2002 and started with P&G Professional in 2022, leading sales for its janitorial & sanitation, omni and office channels. 

Expert Takes, Feature, Operations