As the tennis whites come out and queues begin at Wimbledon, one local restaurateur prepares for his busiest time of the year. Ghigo Berni's small, family-run restaurant, San Lorenzo, sees a 400% rise in customers as one of the world's most renowned sporting events takes place a stone's throw away.
San Lorenzo has been a proud family-run small business under the Berni name since 1969. Although a local favourite year round, San Lorenzo prides itself on the two weeks a year when tennis players, agents, sports journalists, tournament and tennis aficionados descend in droves to get their annual bit of Italian comfort food.
Feeding the 5,000
Where small businesses might easily be pushed out of its comfort zone with such a dramatic increase in custom, San Lorenzo merely welcomes its arrival with a familiar smile.
A seasoned professional, Ghigo looks to manage the influx weeks ahead of the tournament. This means checking stock levels and pre-ordering the majority of their supplies well in advance in order to amortise these costs over a longer period. Additionally, the run up to Wimbledon sees the restaurant engaging in repairs and overall maintenance to ensure it's running at peak performance - not unlike the athletes themselves.
"For all our planning and preparing ahead of the games, I use a cloud accounting software called Xero. It helps keep track of our finances in busy times like Wimbledon and in our day-to-day bookkeeping," Ghigo explained.
"Because it provides me with convenient access to our cash flow in real time - whether that be on a computer, tablet or phone - it's proven immeasurably handy when pressed for time and I need to make of the moment decisions."
Keep an eye on cash flow
Of course, it's not just about the finances or maintenance work. At the end of the day, running a restaurant is a very customer-oriented business. To help manage the increase in customer numbers and ensure staff is fully support, Ghigo doubles his floor staff and brings in at least three extra back-of-house kitchen staff to help prep during lull periods. With an efficient kitchen, orders go out quickly and hungry customers coming in from the games are kept happy.
"It's quite easy to let your books get in a mess during a manic rush like Wimbledon. When you've brought on extra staff and supplies it's imperative to keep an eye on cash flow because all too easily, payroll and outstanding invoices might overtake the increase in profits," Ghigo said. "However, when you have a reliable mechanism in place like Xero that gives you a clear picture of your finances, it's definitely possible to set aside some of that extra money to see you through leaner weeks."
Next week, as Ghigo prepares for this year's Wimbledon, he looks forward to greeting familiar faces both on and off the court. While it may not be all fun and games, it's a cherished time of the year and one the staff at the "tennis trattoria" will be well positioned to meet.