It’s that time of year again; however my first time through it as a manager: The Slow Season. For the first time ever in this business I am not concerned about how slow it is! Working on tips is brutal, in slow and busy times. Right now is the slowest 6 weeks of the year for the World Famous Las Vegas Strip. This period runs from about November 17th-December 29th, when the NYE crowd starts showing up.
On a side note, the New Year’s in Las Vegas crowd isn’t the best group of people, however they do eat more in restaurants than food courts. There are more big spenders in this group, however the type that want to be worshiped for spending $200 on a bottle of wine, while the group next to them is spending $500 a bottle or more!
In The Meantime…
What The Slow Season Means
We patiently are waiting for the new year to start and convention business to come back. Well restaurant managers do not, that means more stressful situations and worrying about not having enough tables in the restaurant to accommodate all the guests. It is a good problem to have though.
Finding ways to make room for more people is fun! Trying to get more people in the door is a lot more work and costs money; lots of it! The hard part is in a saturated market like Las Vegas. It is even tougher and more work to get those seats filled when the potential business is lean. For example the dining options at a mid-level hotel, New York New York, according to the hotel website is 12 for dinner! This ranges from fast food to steakhouse, however it is 12!
Imagine at larger properties what the options for dinner are?
Talking about swimming in the ocean as minnow!
It’s not all glory on this road.
What The Slow Season In Las Vegas is Similar To
Surviving here is like being on Wall Street; it is an art and place when longevity can be frowned upon. Experience says being at the same place (non-union) for more than 3 years can be detrimental. When someone spends too long a location, it means they are comfortable…or in the union. This situation is unique to Las Vegas; in other cities and industries longevity at a company is valued. In the dynamic market of neon, this is not the case. Many people will bounce around every year to 18 months depending on the opportunity or even manager.
That is neither here nor there, the real question is about coping with these slow times.
A few ways to cope with the slow times in a restaurant
Be honest, how many people take time off during the slow times? During these times many people scatter, they head to other places to avoid the trap of living in Las Vegas. Living in this city isn’t easy, VICES are everywhere, too much free time is a very dangerous thing.
Learn a new skill/hobby:
With all of the extra days, take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. It might be cheaper than traveling, especially if travel isn’t your thing. Learning from a site such as Udemy or even YouTube can fill up many hours. These hours might be spent on mindless activities such as TV or scanning social media for celebrity news (this may be your guilty pleasure, but does Kim Kardashian really care if you read about her day shopping London?).
Start a business:
That new skill/hobby can more than likely turn into a business. Why not make it your severpreneur side hustle? Making a few extra bucks to support yourself isn’t crime, especially if you plan on leaving the industry anytime before retirement? This is the way out! Many of us have skills/talents/desires outside of this business, use the desire to your advantage; take a shot. Did you know a website could be started for as little as $4 a month or about $79 for a year? Its pretty cheap considering one sale, appointment or client can recoup that expense! Building a website only takes time.
Good thing you at this point have it! Working on tips is tough, many people in this business have other passions or projects they are working on, of course until they go into restaurant management. That is a whole different discussion, we can elaborate in another post. Being in a tipped position offers incredible flexibility, now is the time to exploit it, go learn about yourself. Make this the last slow season you find yourself suffering though.
Find another job:
It doesn’t even have to be in the restaurant business! Many of the workers in this industry didn’t go to college or high school with the anticipation of working in the restaurant business for their entire career. Working in a restaurant is usually the means to an end, not a lifestyle. However, big cities and resort areas are exceptions. We happen to live in a resort area; Las Vegas can completely sustain someone in this business especially in the union atmosphere
Sadly, the restaurant industry only gets tough as time goes on; not easier. It is physically demanding and can easily turn a body into Jello. Maybe it is time to call a few people from all of those business cards you collected in the last 4 months. Hell, one can even travel while looking for a new job in a new city!
Combine activities when it is slow!
Above a few of the more exciting ideas on what to do when business is slow. The truth is the possibilities are endless. One of the principles of the 4-Hour Workweek is combining travel with education and/or opportunity. Your skills gained in this field enable you to find work anywhere and find work quickly. Use it to your advantage, sometimes living in a place like Las Vegas is overwhelming. Maybe your dream job, career or lifestyle is elsewhere and you do not know it!
Ask yourself if you have a higher purpose than working in this business?
We question that everyone can be something besides a server, bartender, busser, cook, chef, food runner, sommelier or manager. What is it for you?
Working in the restaurant industry here is tough and that isn’t a lie. This fortitude is tested during the Holiday Season. How tough are you?
How do you handle the slow times?Spread the word with the whole staff!