Achieving a work-life balance as a restaurant owner is a tall order. The restaurant business is one of the most time-consuming, as well as physically and mentally demanding, industries to be in. This is even tougher during the holiday season. Keeping up with holiday sales and events, ordering enough stock for the holiday rush, and maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction is difficult as it is. Add to this the pressure of making extra time for family, friends, and your own relaxation, and you can feel like you’re working a double shift.
We are here to help you. Remember, even Santa has his helpers! The following tips and resources are designed to keep a work-life balance so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year as you deserve.
10 Holiday Tips to Maintain a Work-Life Balance in Your Restaurant
1. Prioritize Work-Life Balance in the Workplace
Remember, you are not alone in your journey toward work-life balance. Your employees are also planning holiday trips, gifts, and family gatherings. Achieving a proper balance in your restaurant means creating a culture that leaves plenty of room for your employees’ home lives.
You need to be an example of prioritizing your friends and family as well as your business. This lets your employees know that it’s okay for them to do the same. It also creates an environment where everyone is helping each other achieve that balance. If your employees feel respected and considered, they are going to be far more eager to help you accomplish your goals.
2. Staff First, Customers Second
This may seem counterintuitive, especially in the restaurant business. But finding a work-life balance during the holiday season means you need to prioritize yourself and your employees over your customers.
That doesn’t mean that your customers take a backseat. What it means is that you take your staff’s needs and opinions seriously. Part of providing great service to customers is having employees who feel confident you have their back. You can’t control things like the size of your servers’ tips, but you can control how you treat your employees if a customer has a problem. If any member of your staff is having a tough time, remember that they are likely just as stressed as you during this time. Listening to them and helping them resolve issues when possible is far more effective than bulldozing them.
You can also think of hiring extra employees for the holidays to relieve some of the pressure of your permanent staff.
3. Streamline Scheduling
During the holidays, make flexibility one of your priorities. To achieve this, even if it seems contradictory, you must carefully program all schedules.
Do you know the concept of flextime? It’s a way to program flexible schedules, instead of having traditional eight-hour workdays. It works like this: your staff schedules their own work hours. Generally, there is a core block and during those hours your employees must be present, but they can decide when they come in and when they leave. That means they can choose to get to work early if they have a family event at night or stay in the restaurant until later if they need personal time in the morning.
Flexible schedules, when programmed consistently, can leave more free time for your entire team (and for yourself), in addition to increasing your staff’s satisfaction and helping them achieve a work-life balance.
Flextime Manager is also an easy-to-use application, so why not take advantage of it?
Also, you can learn here how to decide your business hours during the holidays.
4. Prioritize the “Weekend”
Make sure you insist that you and your employees take two days off a week whenever possible. This “weekend” break is important for rest and renewal, as well as personal time. There is no use having employees (or yourself!) sick, exhausted, or overworked on a shift. Customer service will suffer and everyone on staff will be less effective.
Emphasize to your employees that a “weekend,” regardless of the specific two days each week, is a priority whenever feasible. In other words, don’t just offer you and your staff “the chance” to have a weekend — insist on it. This prevents anyone from feeling pressured to show up when they need an honest rest.
5. Carefully Coordinate Breaks
One of the most frustrating scenarios for employees is when they expect a break and can’t take one. Short breaks throughout the shift are key to ensure a better performance. Your employees need as much rest as you do, so make sure they take breaks when scheduled or necessary to catch their breath and reorient themselves.
6. Cross-Train Your Staff
Cross-training involves familiarizing your employees with all aspects of the restaurant. This helps take the pressure off of you and the rest of the team. Once employees understand the basics of how other parts of the restaurant function, they can more easily step in to solve problems or cover shifts.
A solid restaurant experience for customers depends on consistency. Training all your chefs and servers for every type of shift, for example, ensures customers always get the same experience whatever meal they eat. Plus, cross-training employees lets them take time off more easily and avoid burnout. Make sure you always have more than one employee trained in every task.
7. Delegate Whenever Possible
Many restaurant owners are tempted to be always present and always doing things themselves. It’s easy to understand why: you’ve poured a lot of time, effort, and money into your business, and you want it to succeed. However, one key to success is letting go of the reins from time to time. It’s simply impossible for one person to run a restaurant totally by themselves.
If you haven’t yet, begin delegating tasks and responsibilities to your management team. This can include things like billing, receiving inventory, hiring, and more. But your managers also need to be able to delegate from time to time too. Make sure you and your management team are communicating so you can effectively share the workload.
8. Schedule Holiday Vacations Far in Advance
To ensure employees get the time off they need without any scheduling issues, make sure to discuss holiday plans far ahead of time. People often go to the same places and do the same things with family and friends each year. This makes it easy for many people to set out their plans ahead of time. Discussing holiday plans with your team and prioritizing that time before the holidays are upon you will help you schedule without the stress.
9. Keep a Positive Attitude
This tip may seem obvious but your attitude in the workplace really matters. It affects you, your employees, staff morale, and even customer satisfaction. If the leader of the team is on edge and overworked, everyone else will be stressed too.
Keeping a positive attitude is key to successfully resolving conflicts and keeping your team moving efficiently. The phrase “mind over matter” really has some truth to it. If you keep a positive attitude, you and your staff can get through pretty much anything.
10. Automate Tasks Whenever Possible
Nowadays, practically everything can be automated to some degree. You can schedule your deliveries, utilities, and even your advertising.
If you really invest in the social media pages for your restaurant or your website’s blog, create some posts and ads ahead of time. Then schedule those posts to go out on certain days. This lets you take the time that would’ve gone toward your digital outreach and use it for something else.
Also and whenever possible, automate bill payments and other transactions. Planning ahead for these means you won’t be taken by surprise. This is especially valuable during the holidays when it’s likely you’ll have more to do and less time to do it than throughout the year. Lastly, don’t forget to plan for potential holiday expenses like extra inventory or holiday pay.
Restaurant owners like you deal with a ton of pressure, and striking the right work-life balance in the restaurant business during the holidays can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources available to help you do just that. With our top tips, you’ll be able to keep a work-life balance in your restaurant more easily than ever before.
For us here at Camino Financial, helping entrepreneurs like you is the best holiday gift we could ask for. If you want more, make sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive timely tips and resources that will help you achieve a better lifestyle and grow your restaurant. Happy holidays from our family to yours!