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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Cold Winter Month

Winter arrived late in many parts of the country. Following a busy December and early January, many operators felt the freeze. As highways became dangerous this month, hibernation became the strategy in many homes. Dining rooms all over the land had fewer patrons and sales were low. If the bad weather hit your business on both Valentine's Day and President's weekend, you will be hard pressed to get close to budget.

This is an ideal time to let staff members take a ski vacation or go South to warm up for a week. If your busy season is summer, you don't need your full staff. With proper accruals for vacation pay each pay period, the cost has already hit the books. Have accounting debit the accrual account instead of your labor cost account.

If you have a reserve account for your food inventory, reverse the entry in February and build it back up in the next 11 months. It's common to be overstocked as sales plummet following a busy holiday period. As sales slump, food cost percentages rise. Risk of over production is higher and employee meal costs have a greater impact. Don't buy as much food. If ever the risk of being understocked was low, this is the month.

Clear out the freezers and create some hearty and spicy soups with the thawed ingredients. Cook up some stews and limit use of salads and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Maybe your bartender has a favorite drink for the winter season. Or go to Chena Hot Spring's website to find out how they weather the dark months up in Alaska.

Have the wait staff really push specials and prepare fewer options. Use the season to feature less expensive cuts of meat which can be slow cooked using moist heat methods. Stews may be reheated with very little change in quality. Waste will drop if you can sell customers these high profit, low risk menu choices.

With March Madness in the future and the Super Bowl in the past, opportunities for filling bar seats with sports fans are limited. As a frequent solo traveller , I know lots of bars with great evening entertainment options. One pizza concept I like turns the volume up on Jeopardy and customers compete to solve the questions. Every little bit helps your income statement.

Don't panic! Negotiate with your staff and tell them you can't afford a full week's pay for everyone. Some employees may welcome some extra time off to catch up with their other pursuits. Let the staff rest for the busy months ahead.

P.S. For my ski resort friends, LET IT SNOW!

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