In a few short weeks, another year will draw to a close and thousands of South Africans will begin setting off for holiday destinations around the country. For franchise owners, especially those in the fast food business, their busiest and most lucrative time of the year awaits. But, says Ethel Nyembe, Head of Small Enterprise at Standard Bank, being ready for the festive business boom means making sure that all preparations are in place.
Timely preparations mean planning for all contingencies to ensure, as far as possible, that a successful and profitable holiday season is guaranteed. Unfortunately, being realistic in these times means that precautions are taken to upgrade security, and safe cash management procedures.
“The holiday season is all about great sales and increased turnover. This, unfortunately, means pressure on staff that have to cope with increased foot traffic, increased stock holdings to cope with demand and more effort being put in to ensure that service and quality standards do not suffer. It can be a tall order for staff – after all many will be working while their families relax and staff will be constantly aware of the family time they are missing.”
Taking the sting out of working during holiday times for staff could involve:
- Devising a rewards and incentive programme for employees working over the holiday season. Creating sales targets and linking them to personal inputs that are rewarded with prizes can do wonders in keeping the workplace happy over the holidays.
- Asking employees to ‘share jobs’ over the busy period. This can work effectively as staff can share a working day, with some staff off in the morning to do shopping, and others taking a few hours off in the afternoon. Implemented in the build up to the holidays, this can make staff accept longer and later hours more easily.
- Linking peak periods to a ‘standby roster’ in which volunteers come in only when required. Using previous experience should assist with identifying which periods are the busiest and planning a standby roster accordingly.
- Hiring casual staff. The key here is to make sure that casual staff is ‘up to speed’ and adequately trained before the rush begins. Otherwise, they could be more of a liability than an asset.
“It is also unfortunate that criminal activity usually increases during holiday periods. Thieves in holiday centres are well aware of the opportunities that come with larger numbers of people at popular resort towns. Increased security and facilities for electronic payments must be high on all franchisees’ agendas for the holiday period.”
Looking at operational requirements should involve:
- Planning for the increased turnover by:
- Making arrangements for handling extra volumes of cash securely.
- Increasing safe deposit facilities on-site that can only be accessed by the security company. Your bank can assist with these arrangements by installing facilities like Standard Bank’s AutoSafe device and cash collection services.
- If you need to personally deposit cash at a bank, arrange for a security escort, or use several people at different times to make ‘drops’ at times that change from day-to-day.
- Getting your bank to supply you with backup point of sale machines and necessary supplies. Nothing could be more disastrous than not having enough machines to handle card transactions at the busiest time of year.
- Considering introducing a service like SnapScan and SnapBeacon, offered by Standard Bank, which allows all smartphone users to make payments directly from their phones- a service that can be loaded within the restaurant or outlet in a process that takes only a few minutes. This reduces the need to make plans for cash management.
- Allied to cash management is cash flow. Ordering extra stock at short notice increased staffing costs and increased energy costs can place unexpected pressure on short-term cash flow. Manage this by making necessary arrangements with your bank.
- Paying extra attention to stock control. Once you have ordered extra stock, controlling it is essential. Regular checks and stock counts should be performed, stocks balanced and deficits corrected as soon as they are found.
- Checking and updating business insurance if this is necessary-including public liability clauses.
- Marketing special offers and promotions to encourage sales. Promotions and special offers should be well advertised around areas where tourists congregate. Staff should be trained beforehand on all conditions and terms surrounding promotions so that they can be properly administered.
“When everything is considered, the holiday season may be a ‘boom time’ for franchises, but it is also a time when risks increase. Keeping risks under control means that a franchise outlet can operate successfully and profitably without placing additional stress on the franchise and its employees. A secure, planned approach could result in a happy, successful season,” says Ms Nyembe.
Reference: Press Release by Magna-Carta