Summer is a great time for restaurant, bar and cafe sales, but being so busy can sometimes lead to chaos, not profits. Or leave customers frustrated – it’s not the ideal result.

Here’s a quick checklist to prepare front and back of house so you maximise results, contain costs avoid drama.

One calendar, not many.  Is there one list of all the events coming up, centrally located and referenced by everyone? Paper-based systems don’t cut it if you’re usual – a Google Calendar can be a good solution, and if you run regular large events, it’s worth investing in an event management system.

Forecast the busy days. Based on the other factors, like weather, day of the week, TV and sporting events. Over time these have predictable results on customer numbers – check.

Modify the menu for busy occasions. Separate to the function and event menus, there may be busy times when a few complicated food and cocktail items temporarily drop off the menu. A quick reprint and laminate will keep everything looking the same, or adjust what’s on the digital signage. Less stress for the kitchen and the bar.

Fix the POS layout for speed. How many layers down do I need to go to modify an order or include add-ons. Get feedback from staff and modify as needed – many POS layouts are a bottleneck and encourage staff to use the wrong key.

Fix the bar layout for speed. That’s for drinks and coffee making – so many venues have something that was NOT designed by an experienced bar person. Wells in the right place, commonly used bottles within reach, glassware easy to find etc etc. It may need some money spent to move things round a little.

Improve payment options. Are your card machines all state-of-the-art speedy versions, wireless and efficient? Tap-and-pay is the now the norm for most people – embrace it.Train for speed and accuracy.

Think ‘drilling not just skilling’ – new staff need to practice the moves over and over so they can do it with their eyes closed. Too many training sessions demonstrate once, but never check back and insist on practice.

Work out your signals. When the rush hits, a snowfields operator I know tells the staff they’ve now on ‘Level 2’ – code for using some shortcuts and a slightly different workflow. It’s an efficient game that everyone can play – what’s your version of this?

Pay a little more for the best staff. You can afford something extra for the best staff, and they’ll be on the busiest shifts. Let them know their hard work is recognised, and there’ll be a staff thank-you party in January!

Division of labour. Small operators don’t usually have someone who clears and busses, but when it gets busy, this is a special job that helps everyone else give good service. It’s a good job or a trainee or junior – clear, wipe, reset and deliver. Next!

Better queueing and wait systems. Is now the time for a buzzer system, or ropes to keep the line orderly? Or a headset to connect the host with a supervisor on the floor – “table of 6 just leaving and will be ready in 3 minutes”. People understand a queue if it’s organised and moving, but many people turn away if it looks hopeless.

Keep building your list. All these new customers are an opportunity, as many haven’t visited before. Encourage them to checkin on Facebook, join your email and birthday list, and post photos on Instagram. It’s easy to give these activities a miss when you’re busy – upgrade the signage to give plenty of reminders.