Wednesday, January 23, 2008

east or Famine... the name of the game at the Hot Flash Café. It’s just the nature of the place.

We’re either packed or empty. There doesn’t seem to be any in-between. If there’s such a thing as a nice, steady flow of customers, you wouldn’t know it by looking at our dining room at any given moment.

And when it comes to personnel, I’m either over-staffed or desperate for help. No happy medium on that score, either.

November and December were nice. From a staffing standpoint, anyway. Perhaps The Universe knew that I was going to need to attend to other matters. We were over-staffed; so there were plenty of people to tend the restaurant while we were away. And even afterward, throughout the holidays and a week or so beyond, we had more help than we really needed. Crew members were starting to complain that they weren’t getting enough hours, but they continued to call in sick and request days off with wild abandon. Yet, there was enough slack in the schedule to be able to accommodate all the germs, drama and personal indulgence. For about a month and a half. Yay.

Unfortunately, I’ve since had yet another employee bug out on me with no notice, and one more who informed me that she will only be able to work weekends from the end of January until the end of softball season. And a third employee, one of my most steadfast, had a house fire on Christmas Eve…and while neither she nor her husband were injured, and the house was not a total loss, it has thrown her completely for a loop. She has been a bundle of tears, pouts and general high-maintenance ever since. I love her and I wish I knew what to do for her…still, it’s one more headache that I really did not need.

So, though I feel like I’ve finally come out of the overwhelmed, chronically sleep-deprived fog through which I attempted to function for the first fifteen months after my entrepreneurial baptism, things have not yet found a completely solid footing. And when it comes to staffing, I’m afraid they never will. It looks like I’ll have to get as much done as I can while I’m employee rich, but accept that I will still have to don the apron and grind my nose into the stone when such is not the case. ::Groan! ::

But here’s the really good news. I don’t know if sales were more atrocious last year (winter of 2006/2007) than I realized, or if we really have turned a corner and are headed upward for good, sales-wise. After an almost flat October, we had sales increases of 27% for the month of November, and 24% for December. And, unless something really dire transpires in the next eight days, we’ll probably see at least a 20% increase for January. So maybe all the blood, sweat, tears, and years off the end of my life are actually getting us somewhere…

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