The Tools We Use to Make Our Busiest Day of the Year Run Smoothly

Dec 1, 2021 | Business

Today is December 1st! Christmas is here in 24 days, meaning our busiest day of the year, Christmas Eve, is 23 days away!

I thought I would share the tools we use to run this day that keeps getting busier and busier each year. Feel free to use and abuse these for your own business if they can help you manage your busy days too.

Planning day: We do this in mid-November. Usually, it is our Sales Manager and me, and I then bring the to-do list/projections to Leigh so that he can do the production side. It’s not too late for you to do it today, though, if you find value in this post!

And just because we wanted to make it pleasant for ourselves, this year, we ordered a grazing platter from a catering company to nibble on while we did all this. Work and play together – yum!

Here are the things we go over:

Sales targets are first and foremost, as this will directly impact how many people we need, our ingredient levels, and expected customer orders. Download the sheet we use here.

Rosters/Staff levels – do we need to hire any Christmas casuals for Dec/Jan/Feb, do we need to make changes to our rostered times to cope with any rushes/lulls, and did we get caught with our rostering last year anywhere?

Customer orders – what worked last year/what didn’t/how will we manage more orders/was the product ready on time/how are we storing these orders until pickup/what system are we using to record all the orders.

Ingredient orders – suppliers close over the holidays, some for a set period, some for only the major holidays, but this impacts our regular order days. We look to see when we will get our orders this year and how many days each order has to cover, so we know how much to order.

Download our sheet here, which lists our suppliers, delivery days, and how many days each order has to cover before receiving our next order.

To do this planning day, I make up a folder at the end of each Christmas so that the notes that I have for next year’s planning are right there. 

It is so easy to forget things that will impact the following year, so Leigh, our manager, and I all write notes on the good/bad/ugly/’remember for next year’ and put them in these files to remind us on this planning day.

Once the planning has is finished, Leigh gets our production sheets out to start scheduling the runs to make all our bread. Once complete, he can see the ingredients needed and then look on our supplier order sheet to determine how much to order on each delivery, etc.

I then start working on the rosters. I try to get them done for all Dec and past the holiday period into January. It takes the pressure off having to do rosters in a busy time and highlights any holes we have, which we need to hire to fill.

For Christmas Eve itself, we have a separate roster and job sheet. You can download this sheet here. 

For this specific day, we keep shifts short for most of the team, with only our manager and I doing long shifts to oversee everything.

This sheet has:

The rostered times everyone is working and the people that are taking over those shifts, as the closing team.

The jobs that they will be doing on the day.

Their scheduled break times.

Communication and organisation I have found are key on busy days. When your team knows what they are supposed to do and when they work as a cohesive team and rely less on you, your day is less stressful.

Our bakery is not big and to optimally run our sales team, with the number of tills and EFTPOS machines we have (we are adding another till and EFTPOS machine this year to make 3). The serving space we have behind the counter requires three people serving at one time, one on customer orders, one person merchandising, and one person continually bagging and slicing bread for quick ‘grab and go’ items.

So the “1st” team will do the morning and then be relieved by the following team to take the bakery to when it closes.

We put up a sheet in the bakery asking team members what shift they would prefer (morning or afternoon), which applies to New Year’s Eve too, which is another busy day.

These days are important days for families, and most people have plans, so we have found that if we ask people what time they prefer to work, they can make work fit around their plans, and the busy day is not left to a few people trying to do it all. This ensures we live the ‘making work and life blend’ for our team and ourselves.

As the people overseeing this day, I have a Big Day Planning Sheet that I use for myself and our manager. You can download this here.

I use this to make sure I have all my’ buffers and contingencies’ organised;

  • extra change
  • extra packaging on hand
  • snacks and drinks for staff (an army runs on its tummy!)
  • planned to bank so for security we don’t have a large amount of cash on hand, minimizing the chance of robbery, etc.

These are all things you already know you have to do, but having a list is a memory jogger because work is busy, but life becomes even more active with school ending for the kidlets and get-togethers with family and friends. The life of a Parent Boss, hey?!

When Christmas Eve arrives, I make sure I am constantly looking at the roster/job list for the day and ensuring everyone is where they are supposed to be and doing what they are supposed to do. Our team is good, and they are very self-sufficient, and knowing what they have to do makes them confident to do just that. I look for anything that has popped up, any issues, or watch the clock to ensure breaks are taken, as it’s easy to forget when you’re busy.

And at the end of it all, I get notes from Leigh and our manager and write them down myself to file away for our planning day next year.

Then I go and have a big fat drink and get the Christmas Eve show started at our house! J

The whole point of having these processes in place is for the following;

  • To make a busy day run smoothly for ourselves, our team, and our customers.
  • To keep stress levels for everyone low because we want to enjoy Christmas, not dread the season because it’s nuts.
  • To give our business the best chance to have a huge day, and keep our customers and staff happy.
  • To have us, as Parent Bosses, be able to have a massive day at work, then still come home and have the energy to get into the Christmas spirit for our kidlets and ourselves, and not be too knackered to enjoy it all.

We hope this helps you have an amazingly busy, profitable, and organised day in your business and allow you to have a less stressful, smoother, happier Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all you Parent Bosses out there!