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By Antasha Solomon
March is officially here and while retail stores are stocking their shelves with green hats and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts, restaurateurs, bartenders and servers are preparing for one of the busiest and most lucrative days of the year – St. Patrick’s Day.
Is your venue prepared for the impending rush of green-shirted patrons who are currently counting down the days until they can act a fool, pretend to be leprechauns and drink from morning until night?
For your customers, Saint Patrick’s Day is an all day marathon of drinking. But for you, March 17th represents a long, hectic day, an exhausted staff, a few pints of spilled Guinness, but the potential for a big pot of gold at the end of it.
Here are eight things you can do to prepare your staff for the non-stop herd of inebriated Irish originals and wannabes while making sure you cash in on the St. Patrick’s Day gold rush.
Offer Irish themed drink specials and appetizers. Green beer, Irish whiskey and Guinness are staples of St. Patty’s Day. For your food menu, think of clever ways to incorporate dishes like Corned Beef and Shepherd’s Pie into your offerings. Collaborate with your staff to create a specialty menu. By involving them they are more likely to remember the menu items on March 17th. Keep it simple and efficient so your staff will be able to take, make and deliver orders quickly and easily.
Have a look at your POS reports from last year and review what menu items were your top-sellers. Use this information, along with your St. Patty’s Day menu, to figure out the quantity of each item you should have in stock. Check your storage room for supplies, and if you are low on anything order those items in advance so you can rest easy knowing your venue is prepared. According to the National Retail Federation, $4.6 billion is expected to be spent in celebration of St. Patty’s Day this year—don’t lose your share of the profits by being unprepared.
Have a staff meeting and prepare your employees for an insane shift. Outline your plan – How many bartenders will be behind the bar? What time is everyone arriving to set up? How big will your servers’ sections be? If you are offering promos, such as free shots of Irish whiskey with the purchase of a pint of Guinness, keep your FOH staff in the loop. Review the St. Patrick’s Day menu and ask for any questions or feedback. Include your staff in the preparations – after all, they will make or break St. Patty’s Day for your venue. Getting rushed by hungry, drunken people dressed in green is not an easy shift to work, so staff enough bartenders, servers and cooks to handle the crowd and have a few people on call in case there are any last minute call outs.
Review bar policies such as knowing when to cut a customer off or when to refuse service all together. Make sure your front of house employees are comfortable opening tabs, splitting bills, and cashing customers out. The minute things get disorganized behind the bar, the harder it is to work efficiently.
Have enough cash in the register to get your staff through their shift without needing to hunt for more change. The last thing you want is for your bartenders to run out of small bills and have to dig through their beer soaked tips to make change. Stock the bar with plastic cups for backup—there’s nothing more disheartening to a bartender than having a bar full of customers and no glasses to serve them with.
Update your point of sale with your St. Patrick’s Day menu. Use this new menu as a speed menu so it is easily accessible to your front of house employees. This will eliminate time wasted searching for menu items or having to key in each item individually. Make sure that you have all of your food and drink promotions scheduled into your POS.
Tip: Don’t forget to schedule an end time for your specials in your POS, so that the promotions end when the holiday does!
This may seem like a no-brainer but unfortunately, many establishments neglect the security aspect of St. Patty’s Day. In between chugging green beer and Jameson, it seems there is always that one guy who has to start a fight with someone else. It is the job of security personnel to break up budding fights before they become violent. Neglecting to hire security leaves your establishment susceptible to damages, should any incident occur. When people are drinking themselves into oblivion it is necessary to staff people who can do the unpleasant— cut people off and kick them out.
Use social media and your venue’s website to promote your St. Patrick’s Day menu, promotions, and events. Involve your followers by asking them St. Patrick’s Day trivia questions or having them post photos of themselves from previous St. Patty’s Days while hash-tagging your venue. Social media is also a great way to market other holiday specials, like Easter restaurant promotions.
Millions of consumers will be out-and-about on March 17th looking for a place to spend their money. If you prepare your venue and your staff for the impending parade of leprechauns, and advertise accordingly, the St Patrick’s Day pot of gold is yours for the taking!
Antasha is a Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she spends her days advising restaurateurs on their point of sale systems and her nights writing hospitality-related content. A veteran bartender and server, Antasha enjoys bringing her industry experiences to life through blogging. Her three-year-old son and BFF, Elijah, is her self-proclaimed muse for all things creative.
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