1 – Staff rotas
Make sure the pub has enough staff. Get on the phone to those students who are back from university or, if you have to, call in family and friends to cover shifts. There’s nothing worse than having a pub full of thirsty, angry customers all because there’s no one to serve them.
2 – Get the drinks in
Look back at drinks sales for Christmases past, which will give you an indication of how busy you can expect to be. Remember, it’s always better to have that extra keg, case of wine or bottle of gin just in case. But, don’t go overboard and order far more than enough.
3 – Something special
As well as ensuring your core ranges are stocked, put a little thought into buying something extra festive and special to surprise your customers, as well as to use as an upsell. Why not pour gin fizzes using Prosecco or Champagne and a wintry gin liqueur or sloe gin. Better yet, put on a kettle of mulled wine or cider to bring home the full flavour of the season.
4 – More food?
As well as getting the drinks order sorted, you’ll need to make sure your kitchens are well stocked in the run-up to Christmas, as well as for the main day itself (if you’re open that is). Pub classics sell well at this time of the year, but so do dishes with a festive twist (see #5). Even if you’re confident you’ve completed your food order correctly, try to have someone on hand who can pop down to the wholesaler should you need to get a little extra in.
5 – Festive eats
As with drinks, people want a little festive cheer when eating out during the run-up to Christmas. It could be as simple as a turkey and cranberry sandwich, mini Christmas dinners or natty little festive bar snacks, such as pigs in blankets, pork pies or brie and fig bruschetta.
6 – Check again, please
If you’re open on Christmas Day for food service and have taken pre-bookings, check all of the details with your customers again, perhaps even email or post out little reminders to make sure they have their timings and food orders right.
7 – If you’ve got it, flaunt it
You may have the best offering for Christmas going, but if people don’t know about it then they’re unlikely to come and spend. Make sure you are marketing office Christmas party deals, Christmas meals and the entertainment you’ve got going on at your pub. Use social media, your website and a good old fashioned phone call or flyer to let people know your pub is the place to be this December.
8 – ‘Santa! I know him’
Christmas at the pub is not just about the grown-ups. If your pub is in a community where there are lots of children, think about how you can make things a little more magical for the youngsters. Perhaps you have a connection to Santa or maybe you can put on an arts and crafts morning so little Jimmy and Jude can make handmade presents for their parents.
9 – Thinking of others
Customers in the pub may be having a good time but Christmas is also a time to think of others. Do you have time to deliver food to the elderly, support a homeless charity or open up your pub for a special meal delivered at cost to support the lonely? A little thought and kind act can make a big difference to someone at this time of the year.
10 – Communication
As well as being a joyful time of the year, there’s also a lot of change. Have you told your staff about new opening hours, specific food and drink offers, group bookings, etc? If not, then tell them now so they deliver the very best they can.
11 – Remember to have fun
It’s not just for customers, you and your team need to have a good time too. Especially if you’re open and running a full shift on Christmas Day, remember to make things enjoyable for the whole team. It could be a game or something to look forward to at the end of the shift, such as a mini Christmas meal and a drink on the house. Importantly, if you can, give your staff a little financial incentive to ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible.
12 – Did someone say party?
It’s over for another year, but did you and your team get a chance to go out and have fun together like everyone else did? January is a great time to take your team out for a treat at another pub.