Are you ready to re-open?

Are you ready to re-open?

7th March 2021

After what for many of us feels like an endless succession of lockdowns, stop-starts, curfews, and debates over what constitutes ‘a substantial meal’ we finally have provisional dates when we can reopen our terraces, welcome guests inside and get back to doing what we do best – delivering amazing food, drinks, and service to our customers (even if the smile may still be behind a mask for now…)

At the time of writing there are still 5 weeks until restaurants and bars can open outside and, whilst that may seem quite far away, unless we start planning now, we risk not making the most of the opportunity – so where do we start?

Your Team

If you haven’t already been ‘entertaining’ your team with Zoom quizzes or virtual drinks during lockdown – find the time to reach out to each of your team individually. The past year has affected people in many different ways – find the time for a proper conversation – how do they feel about returning to work?
What concerns or expectations do they have? Involve your team in planning for re-opening – their ideas and insights will be invaluable.

Worryingly, some research suggests that between 30-40% of hospitality staff aren’t planning to return to the sector post-lockdown. In the event that some of your team have made new plans during the pandemic, or who aren’t ready to return to work yet, take the opportunity now to recruit. There are some amazing people out there whose employers may have closed down or made cuts over the past 12 months as well as some potential stars of the future just waiting for the opportunity.

As someone whose spent much of their career training teams, I cannot underestimate the value this brings – just because we can’t open our doors (or terraces)
before April doesn’t mean we can’t train our teams before then – whether in person/on-site or virtually. Think about those areas of your business that the team could use training or refreshing on? What changes are you planning to make that you team need to be familiar and comfortable with before re-opening?

Finally consider your rotas and scheduling for re-opening and plan to be busy! Don’t let your pre-planning go to waste by over-stretching your teams or
under-delivering to your guests – allow a few weeks to gauge demand with a full team on all shifts before reviewing.

Your Terrace

Does your business currently have a terrace/outside area? If not use these 5 weeks to investigate and apply for a pavement licence (or equivalent) if this could
be an option and allow you to reopen earlier.

If you do already have an outside area, how does it look? Is now the time to invest in some new furniture? A lick of paint? Replace the dead plants? How can your terrace still work in the rain? Do you have/can you get heaters, umbrellas or even just some nice warm blankets? Is your outside area maximised for socially distanced seating? Can you replace those large tables with smaller tables considering the initial limits on the ‘group of 6’ whilst being flexible enough to adapt as the restrictions ease?

Your Offer

Take a look at what you offer – your food and drink menus.

What’s changed since you last reviewed them? Is now the time to make your offer more seasonal or review pricing? Are there new trends/ideas you want to try?

How well does your current offer suit an ‘outside-only’ business? Is it time to look at developing a more simplified offer for April 12th? How easy is it to deliver your current offer at volume and allowing for the unpredictability of British weather?

Your Suppliers

Whether you’re making some changes to your offer or sticking with your tried and tested menus have you checked in with your suppliers?

The next 5 weeks are a great time to review your supply chain and ensure you can get everything you need to see you through re-opening. A lot has changed over the last year – now may be the perfect opportunity to review pricing and range with your suppliers while you both have the time.

Finally, without resorting to the toilet-roll hoarding seen earlier in the pandemic, it’s probably worth stocking up on key products now to avoid shortages holding you back when you re-open. Remember overnight one of the largest industries in the UK will reopen and demand for core lines will surge, whether it’s basic spirits, soft drinks, blue roll or take away containers, stock up now and/or make sure you have an alternative supplier lined up just in case.

Your Customers

Finally, let’s not forget about your customers – how can we re-engage with the most important part of our business?

Now’s the time to be reaching out to existing and potential customers and keeping them informed of your plans for re-opening. Use social media or posters on your windows to keep everyone informed.

As with your teams, try and involve your customers in the process – along with information on your offer, your guests will also be looking for reassurances that they’ll be safe returning to hospitality venues when they reopen so let them know what you are (and will be) doing to ease their concerns.

Whilst this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, hopefully the ideas above are something to get you started on the path back to re-opening.

If I can help you or your business with this, or indeed anything else, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Wishing everyone all the very best for their reopening and I look forward to eating/drinking on as many of your terraces as I can from April!


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