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  • Andrae Gaeth

Thriving in the slower months – hospoIQ’s tools to carry your business through

Updated: Jun 30, 2019

The winter months have arrived and this often means business slows down for the hospitality industry which, in New Zealand, is primarily driven by tourism. According to, May to August represents the period with the fewest number of guest nights spent in commercial accommodation in New Zealand. Additionally, New Zealand residents are contending with higher costs of living at present, rendering them rather frugal, with not a lot of disposal income to speak of. The result of this is, as a culture, we don’t tend to eat out as much as others and so businesses cannot rely on our local populations to carry them through the winter months. Other difficult factors restaurants must deal with are short but profitable events, school holidays and public holidays in the middle of the slower months, which of course, can increase your clientele in short bursts. This is exceedingly tricky to staff and can also easily result in short-ordering or over-stocking the kitchen stores, resulting in disgruntled customers or waste (both of which are to be avoided). So, how do you solve this dilemma? If you are dreading the winter months, uncertain of your staffing requirements when things are slow or simply have no idea how to predict your business and turnover even in the near future, read on. hospoIQ can be just the ticket, and you really don’t want to turn down this helping hand!  Step 1. Understand your Best (and Worst..) Sellers Before setting targets, you must ascertain what to set targets for exactly. That is, what your best and worst sellers are so that you can ensure your production, pricing and promotions are set accordingly. If coffees, hot chips or perhaps that excellent slice in your cabinet that seems to sell out in half an hour, are your bestsellers, then perhaps you should consider placing them (or signs referencing them) in a prominent place. Then you need to consider what your worst sellers may be and why. If it is the vegetable frittata for example, then why keep making it when it is only destined for the organics bin at lockup every night?  Your average sellers are equally in need of attention. You may be able to tweak their quality or appeal, but mostly, they are the sellers on which you should run promotions. This is simply because they do get some attention but it could be improved to increase your turnover and reduce waste. The bestsellers need not be promoted as they speak for themselves, and you wouldn’t want to lose any money unnecessarily on a popular product.  A good tip to bear in mind for any business is to couple a worst seller with a bestseller as part of special deal in order to get people in the door, and to get rid of unpopular stock to make way for more improved versions.   HospoIQ can assist by enabling you to easily drill into your different sales categories and quickly identify the best and worst sellers, as well as how sales have been trending in recent times.

Step 2. Set targets – Plan, plan and… plan again!  So now that you know what your optimal sales mix should be, you need to plan out what your total sales will be (food vs beverage), day to day and week to week. Failure to do so can result in over or under-resourcing the business, costing the bottom line (and valuable reputations) dearly. hospoIQ provides you with projections about your future sales. These are based on how sales have been tracking during the same period in the previous year, as well as in the last few weeks, and the events set up in the event calendar. This feature gives you an idea of what is likely to happen in the future and allows you to see how you are tracking in real-time as you progress towards it. However, you are not tied to the projected sales as your targets. You can also set your own (as shown in the image below) if you want to raise the bar even further and/or where there are various factors you know about as an owner/manager that aren’t identifiable, when purely looking at the past. 

Step 3. Prepare so you can weather the seasonality  Preparation is the distinction between thriving and just surviving both planned and unforeseen fluctuations in business, and that certainly is applicable to the hospitality industry where seasonality plays a huge role in these fluctuations.  All your resources need to be planned, both human and otherwise, so that they are primed and ready to go for when the onslaught arrives. For this, you need to be acutely aware of lead times which may involve production and shipping times or advertising for help. For example, it takes 3-4 months to hire staff and so the due process must be considered in your planning times. This may also include addressing issues, maintenance, software updates, new equipment or training gaps so that when the busy months arrive, there is nothing holding you back.  hospoIQ can help with planning by giving you the ability to look months into the future, using the targets you’ve set (and/or the projections). You can also see how expected sales are likely to be split across food and beverage; and, also, how current rostered wage costs compare to those expected sales. This then enables you to know how much food and beverage needs to be ordered, and whether staffing is appropriately resourced given the expected sales.

Step 4. Keep track of your progress Being able to continually look ahead and keep track of your progress as you go is simple with the use of colour-coded dashboards provided by hospoIQ. With your sales targets set, you can then clearly see ahead of time, on an ongoing basis, what the expected sales are, as well as how your current rostering aligns with those sales. This allows for a quick overview to assess your position as well as providing solid data from which you can base any course-correcting decisions, keeping the business on-track towards the target. An example of this is included below. 

Take-home message Darrin, from Top Hut, gave us some important food for thought. They made a significant financial investment by building a new refrigerated warehouse based on a problem encountered in the previous year. It was certainly a risk, but by planning six-months out at least, they were able to avoid catastrophe and pay off the investment in just one year. He also put it so eloquently, “people think that success is driven by what goes out of the door but success is actually driven by making sure you have got something to go out of the door”. You can’t change the seasons, but you can plan for them and ensure you have a quality service or product available when required. 

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