By Jonathan Feiler
The 2021 summer season is over! I am not sure if saying that makes me happy or sad. For many of us, this season was a slow grind that was the perfect storm of shortages, people behaving badly and not so great weather.
With all the negatives that we faced, there were many positives; perhaps you saw a boost in sales, found new ways to do business or learned how well you handle stress. If any of these or other positives are true, this is the time of year to find out why those things worked. I love the process of going back and assessing best practices and harnessing the good and blocking the bad.
Nobody likes going back in time and being a Monday morning quarterback, especially on their own work, but taking the time to recap the last quarter, no matter how painful it can be, is a positive for you and your business. Looking at best and worst practices in great detail will help you create a positive and permanent business recipe for next season and beyond.
My methodology for starting this process is as follows:
- Look at your sales numbers first. How do they compare to last year?
- Assess whether your numbers are based on business levels, staffing levels, changes to menu pricing and/or supply issues. Was there another reason for the increase or decrease in sales volume?
- What adjustments did you make to counteract any issues you faced? Did they work? Can you make them more efficient for next time? Should you add those adjustments as part of your regular business or tweak them to work in any situation?
- Were the SOPs and best practices you had in place from last year? Were they useful, but not executable?
- Did your guests verbally or nonverbally prefer one product or experience over another?
- Did you see an increase in a new menu item or dining experience organically, or did you have to put effort, staff/guest education or marketing behind it to make it work?
- Did you have a good idea in the middle of the season, but it was too late to follow through with it? How can you get it activated next season?
- Create an action plan to put your findings above in place for next season, or as soon as possible. The action plan should include: time table, staffing, cost, sales goals, actionables, accountability and deliverables for your team.
- Don’t hesitate on your plans! Start today; the process will always take longer than you think.
- Don’t rest on your laurels. Not every plan is perfect, and when it is, it can be better.
Many of us are harder on ourselves than any of our guests can be. By our very nature of being hospitality professionals, we are perfectionists, workaholics and possibly self-deprecating, but we know our strengths and weaknesses.
We may have great business practices in place, but by no fault of our own, we do not have the people or resources in place to execute them, or execute them properly and consistently. This doesn’t mean your business or your system is broken; it’s just not on track. This time of year is the moment to take a breath, have a Pumpkin Spiced something and figure out how to do it better and smarter for next year.
Jonathan Feiler is Group Director of Wine for Ocean House Management Collection, including the Forbes Five-Star Ocean House, the award-winning Weekapaug Inn, the Watch Hill Inn and the Inn at Hastings Park, where he oversees the wine and beverage program and practices a wine philosophy centered on versatility and approachability. He also is responsible for a full program of beverage education classes for individuals and groups.