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Ask The Expert: Thriving Post-Holidays for Your Restaurant!

Running a business can be challenging, but there is no reason not to benefit from the thousands of people who have already taken the plunge. As part of our continuing Expert series, we present Part 2 of our talk with small business owner-turned-motivational speaker Mandi Lunan.

Mandi Headshot
Mandi was founder, owner, and operator of Auntie Loo’s Bakery in Ottawa, Ontario: the very first vegan bakery in Eastern Ontario. She is now a business coach and motivational speaker under the name This Charming Mandi.

Question 1: Should they stay or should they go?

I’m bringing in a big influx of seasonal workers for the holidays: new servers, hosts, kitchen staff--the works. Is there an easy way to decide who to keep on, if any, and who to let go of? Preferably without hurting anyone’s feelings!

- Parminder, Franchisee, Dallas

Look at your budget and see who you can afford. Make sure you can offer each staff member a good quality of life, a living wage, and actual hours. If you can't, then maybe it's time to hit pause and rehire when you can. You should really pay your staff well and treat them well; it builds a lot of loyalty and you'll be a more successful business in the long run. Doing staff evaluations is good too, so talk to other staff members to see how they performed and how they get along with the others--maybe there were some situations that you didn't see, and your regular staff can help you.

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Keep people in mind for future opportunities, especially if you can't afford them right now! If somebody needs more than 5 hours a week and you can't provide that, say "Let's talk again in March and then maybe I'll have enough money to give you the kind of job you want.” Be honest with them and hope they're honest with you about what they need, employees really respect that

There are lots of stories of people who have left jobs where they’re still on the schedule but not getting any hours. It's a crappy thing to do, and now that there's apps and facebook groups for ever single industry in every single city, the second somebody starts talking about you as a crappy employer, you're SOL.

Question 2: Keeping the momentum going into the new year

Mandi, Every year I have the same dilemma: after a gangbusters Nov/Dec, things slow to a crawl in Jan/Feb, and sometimes even into March. This puts a big dent in the end of my fiscal year. How do I manage the transition from a busy restaurant in December to a quiet one in January?

- Alec, Restaurateur, Chicago

Capitalize on the New Years trends! If you have a product that is on trend for diets or resolutions, for example, make sure you work it. In January, my keto clients get busier, and my gluten-free clients get fancier. I ran one of the first vegan bakeries in Ottawa so we got what I called the "google rush" after Xmas every year because people were on a diet.

How Solink Helps 1
Tired of having to be on-site for everything? Solink takes the pressure off the owner by giving you real-time insights into business operations using existing video and POS systems, visible from anywhere you have your phone.

Question 3: Finding out what worked and what didn’t

Once the holidays are over, how do I check how well my holiday-themed promotions worked? Is there any way to track who used what promo code or who used what adwords to get to my website? What about tracking new vs. returning customers?

- Naveen, Owner, Vancouver

Put different promotions on different social media networks. Put one on Facebook, one on Instagram, one on Shopify, and then you can see which one does the best where; you can see which platform is capturing the most people in your demographic. Your Facebook page shows you everything, same with Instagram. A few of my clients sell things on Shopify and there they can also see who came from the adwords or not.

Promo codes are easy to keep track of, just ask your staff to make a note of who used the code. Take note also of who visited for the first time during the promotion and how many have returned now that the promo is over. Check to see if you have any new reviews posted since the promotion--which you should be doing regularly anyway. Finally, see if the item that was on promotion is still performing well now the promotion is over.


Did you miss Part 1 of this great series? Click here!

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