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How to Staff for Success During the Super Bowl

Super Bowl Sunday in your restaurant means increased traffic and sales. But without a game plan, it could also spell scheduling and operations chaos. These tips will help you achieve Super Bowl success!

Are you ready for some football?

Restaurants around the nation are preparing for a showdown between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles during Sunday’s Super Bowl LII. Like any large, national event, most operations will face a big increase in guests.

The National Retail Association expects consumers to spend $15.3 billion on Game Day. As is tradition, millions of Americans plan to participate in a watch party, with 18% planning their own and 28% planning to attend a watch party. Of those planning to leave their house, around 11 million people plan to watch from their favorite restaurant or bar.

That means many opportunities for extra traffic, sales, and revenue. It could also spell scheduling and operations chaos if staff, inventory, prep, production, and protocols aren’t in order. Follow these steps for a successful Super Bowl at your restaurant.

Step #1: Forecast Like a Pro – Look at the Past to Prepare

What were your sales and guest actuals last year? Prepare for a similar experience in terms of revenue and staff needs, depending on your guests. If you’re in the Boston, Philadelphia or Minneapolis area, expect larger crowds and consider scheduling at the fifteen-minute interval. It’s anyone’s football game – but your data can give you more predictability around your restaurant’s staffing and production needs.

Don’t forget local fans either. Even though their team may not be playing, many will still be eager participants in the Game Day experience.

Step #2: Prep Staff for a Game Day “Playbook”

There will be a lot of extra people in your restaurant, and you want your staff to be informed of their support network.

  • Build in extra time for pre-shift instructions.
  • Review key issues and specials, like overflow seating areas and the specials.
  • Put an emphasis on special instructions, like the names and locations of extra managers on duty.
  • Give a quick refresher on your policies for serving responsibly before the restaurant gets too busy.

Step #3: Plan for the Shift Play-by-Play

Scheduling staff for the Super Bowl goes beyond having enough servers and bartenders for the hours of the game. “One thing I see a lot of operators struggle with is shift change,” shares Nathan Pickerill, Principal Solution Architect at HotSchedules.

No one wants half the staff on break when a new rush comes in. Bobby Fradella, Director Of Franchise Operations – ‎Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar stated, “What we’ve found works best is to get as many of those shift changes and/or breaks done during the game,” when discussing strategies for game days.

People often change locations, from a home house party to a restaurant for example, during pauses in the game. Plan for a surge in new customers right before the game, during halftime and right after the game ends.

Step #4: Use All Your Team Members

Before the big day, raise awareness with your staff about the on-call schedule and procedures. You won’t know until game day how busy your location will be. Try to schedule several staff members with cross-training. Let them know they’ll have expanded duties on Super Bowl Sunday.

Step #5: Bring it On – Get Your Team in the Game-Day Spirit

Your staff is a part of the Game Day experience. If they don’t want to be there, it’s obvious to your customers. Build up anticipation by sharing stories and considering friendly staff competitions for the day. Get them excited to be a part of the Super Bowl experience.

Step #6: Brace for Overtime

If the game goes into overtime, do you have a plan in place for feeding and serving customers? If customers choose not to stick around for the full game due to a poor performance by their team, what is your plan to maintain the right staff count? A longer game might mean a need for extra kitchen or bar staff.

Plan your schedule around the sales you want to make. As Pickerill shares, “If you’re currently doing $2,200 in sales for lunch and you’re staffed for $1,800 in sales, eventually you’ll do $1800.” Staff for the sales you want to make on Game Day, so you’re never understaffed.

Follow these steps for a great Super Bowl experience at your restaurant, no matter your home team.


Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the only time scheduling can get crazy.
Learn how to schedule your staff for the best experience every day of the week with our restaurant guide to optimizing labor!

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