Monthly Archives: December 2011

Your Best Year Ever ~ Setting Goals for 2012 ~ Part 1

Happy New Year!

This New Year take some time to sit alone quietly and reflect on what it is you truly want to be, do, and have in your life and for your business?

This process will take you around 2 hours, so a bit longer than the average throw away resolution made on New Year’s Eve.  But to me it is time well spent.

If you prefer to see things written down rather than on a computer screen then I recommend you record all this in a journal, or a hardback book, where you can revisit your notes. Or to access the online version go here. Either way write it down, as this helps reinforce your ideas.

So find yourself a quiet space and set aside a couple of hours to plan Your Best Year Ever.




Let’s start by reviewing the past 12 months.

Most of us have a tendency to view the taking stock process as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and find fault with everything we have NOT accomplished.

Well, enough of that.  Start from a place of power.

This year, give yourself some credit for what you have accomplished! Make a list, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking anything is too small to be significant. In one way or another, in one area or another (and likely in many), you’ve come a long, long way.

So let’s start by reviewing your successes and accomplishments

So starting from January all the way up to today make a list of all of the things that you have achieved, all the goals that you achieved, any new skills learnt, and burdens you have dealt with.  It doesn’t matter how big the goal was or what area of life it was in write down every single thing you have achieved no matter how small no matter how big.  Month by month list and categorize every single thing you have achieved in the last 12 months.

Now let’s take a look at what you have written. I bet you have achieved more over the last 12 months than you thought you did. So notice how good it makes you feel when you look at what you have gone out and done.

  • What have you achieved?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What have you learnt that you didn’t know 12 months ago?
  • What new skills have you acquired that you didn’t have this time last year?
  • What challenges have you overcome?
  • What setbacks have you overcome?
  • What setbacks have you overcome?
  • What situations will you look back on with a smile, even if at the time it was uncomfortable?
  • What have you learnt from these experiences?
  • How does it feel to be reminded of all your achievements?

Get your hotel business off to a flying start in 2012 with one of my 12 complimentary hotel business focus sessions. Find out more here.

See Part 2 on Monday or access the whole programme online here

Start planning next Christmas now

Your restaurant or hotel marketing for next Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.  What better way to promote your Christmas parties than to show people having fun, and your hotel or restaurant in all its Christmas splendour?

Take photos of the bar, restaurant and reception while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out! Take shots from different angles of the restaurant laid up for dinner. ‘Snap shots’ may be OK as small images for your website, but if want to use these as bigger images, or for printed material, use a professional photographer to take some quality pictures. And include some pictures of the food. Although this is easier to ‘stage’ at a later date, if you can get some shots now, so much the better.

Get some video footage of parties – best when guests have just arrived, and had time to relax with their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. Always check with guests that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site. Ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing.

Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene.

Keep tabs on your costs throughout to ensure you have an accurate picture of your profit margins.  This includes post costing for each event, to take account of wastage.

Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year. Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas. Then make sure you record all this where you can find it easily when it comes to planning next year!

Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season.

Making the most of your seasonal staff

seasonal staff

This week the Christmas party season gets well under way.  Even if you are not as busy as in previous years the chances are you’ll be taking on some extra staff.  But are they an asset or a liability?  If all you do is give them an order pad and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good to your Christmas profits.

Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.  Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.

Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.  Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.

First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role.

What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste the dishes, explain what accompanies each dish and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed menus or party packages).

Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member.

Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.

Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.

A customer is the life, not just for Christmas

You may not be dreaming of a White Christmas, but I’m sure you’d like a profitable one, so you don’t leave things to chance.

Over the Christmas period you will inevitably have a number of guests or diners who will be coming to your hotel or restaurant the first time, so ensure you create a great first impression and a reason for them to return. Equally you’ll no doubt have a number of your regulars who are coming to you because they know you, like what you offer and trust you’ll deliver what they expect. Ensure you don’t disappoint and demonstrate you appreciate their loyalty.

Maintain your standards

Just because you’re busy or you are offering some good deals, don’t let this be an excuse for poor service or poor value for money. This could be damaging for your reputation and potentially embarrassing for your existing loyal customers, particularly if they are entertaining or have referred you to others.

It will obviously also leave a poor first impression for those who are guests and potentially visiting you the first time.

Trading up

Whereas your customers might be looking for a good deal on the basic price, particularly for group bookings, this doesn’t mean to say that individuals will not be prepared to you trade up to a premium drink or additional menu items. Ensure your team are in a position to make suggestions and recommendations, and are fully aware of what is feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition. Then check that your bar and kitchen staff are prepared and can cope with the ad hoc and additional items.

According to a survey by The Mystery Dining Company many people planning to eat out over Christmas are not making advance bookings. This means hotels and restaurants offering good value and being flexible with walk-ins versus bookings could benefit from last-minute business.

Show your appreciation

Nothing should be competing with your Christmas promotions so don’t plan any other offers or accept other vouchers during this period that undermine your potential Christmas revenue.

But have everything in place for the New Year and what you’ll have on offer that’s exclusive to your Christmas guests as an incentive for them to return sooner rather than later. Even if partygoers are not in the mood to be parting with their personal details that can be added to your database, at the very least have vouchers, brochures or even a goodie bag as a taster of those special bonuses, offers or packages you’ve lined up just to them.

Of course in a perfect world you’ll also be getting their contact details so you can add them to your mailing list, but ensure you have some incentive for them to do this; maybe a prize draw in the New Year, ensuring of course it’s still relevant to non-locals if you’re attracting visitors from further afield, or maybe even for a draw on the night for each of your party nights. If your market is predominantly locals, talk to your suppliers or other local businesses who may be happy to sponsor some other prizes in return some publicity. Bearing in mind you’ll be busy, whatever you use for capturing details make it simple.

Keep in touch

Schedule some time after Christmas to follow up with your mailings. Keep your list of segmented so party organisers on one list, and guests on another so you can keep your mailings pertinent and personal.

This will enable you to follow up with all your party organisers or the person who made the booking to thank them for their booking. Show you appreciate their feedback so you can learn from them what worked well, and what they didn’t like, so you can improve on it for next year. Don’t just do this on the night or at the end of their stay, but follow up post event.  If there is anything they didn’t like they may be reluctant to tell you there and then in front of other guests.

Following up now helps to develop your relationship, and increases your chances of repeat business either during the year or next Christmas.