This blog will give you the guidance to begin the journey to realising your ‘new normal’ as hospitality establishments start to re-open in the coming months
When starting to write a blog about the hospitality industry you can’t help but notice just how vast an industry this really is. From pubs, restaurants, catering, cafes, delis, coffee shops, hotels, food service… the list could go on. So, this article will focus on the pubs, restaurants, bars, coffee shops – the establishments that serve customers who are stood in front of them, or at least 2m in front of them.
These establishments have been hit hard because of the COVID -19 pandemic; many will face significant financial challenges while others may not recover. The future is uncertain, and everyone will have their own challenges to overcome, whether that be personal or business.
The last 2 months may of been a time for reflection, leading to the realisation that what you were doing before wasn’t working but didn’t have the time to take stock and make a change, or you may have been flat out running a delivery and takeaway business and identified a new normal that makes more sense. Either way, now is a great time to embrace new challenges, make some changes and adapt for what’s coming.
Social distancing will be the new reality for Hospitality. The way we experience eating out, grabbing a drink after work, or even having a business meeting over a coffee will change. Up until now we haven’t had to think about what it will be like while we’ve been in our lockdown bubbles but slowly, as safety measures start to ease, we will be ‘allowed’ to visit pubs, bars and coffee shops, but will we want to? This will be scary for some people while others can’t wait to grab a beer in a beer garden, and then there’ll be those who will think ‘why bother it won’t be the same’. These people are right things won’t be the same again, certainly not for a while, so not only do you need to prepare yourselves for this change, but also your customers.
I have heard the phase ‘stay in your lane’ quite a lot recently. It essentially means do what is right for you and not looking at what everyone else is up to. It’s great to gain inspiration from others but if it’s not true to you and your business then it won’t be true to your customers and let’s be honest, you’re gonna need them!
1. Delivery & Takeaway
If you’ve adapted over the last few months to serving your customers through a delivery or takeaway service, then good for you and your customers will have been very grateful! According to Google Trends we have shifted (unsurprisingly) almost overnight from googling our favourite restaurants to googling home deliveries so continuing to provide this service may be necessary. This will be especially important while people are continuing to social distance and babysitters may not be as readily available, or while people are just not comfortable sitting and eating a meal with strangers next to them. Review what has worked well from this, and what could be improved for the longer term. What other markets could you tap into with this service that haven’t previously been explored? Consider how many more people you can serve vs only be able to have 50% of your usual covers (due to social distancing) but make it an experience. adding little touches to make people feel the same love and care has gone into getting their product to their home as you would getting it to their table. There may be things that you sourced as a short term measure, such as packaging or delivery methods, to get you through, but now is the time to review and plan for this to be the new normal, if you decide that delivery and takeaway is now part of your business plan.
2. Opening Hours
People will not be expecting it to be the same when you return so make the most of this and don’t go back to how it was and then try and change it later. If you are going to make a change like this, now is the time to do it. This can significantly reduce your staffing costs and give you some time back. Your customers are important, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t please everyone. Some people won’t be happy with some of the decisions you’ve made but if you’ve made them for the right reasons then it’s the right thing to do. To put your mind at rest, go back over the takings for the last couple of months, before COVID-19, and look at how much those customers have actually spent with you.
3. Sweat your assets
If you’ve reviewed your opening hours you can start to think about making your assets work harder for you and utilising the space, you have. Could you consider private hire? There has been a lot of talk about how businesses will start to reflect on how their teams work. Some may have realised they can be as productive, if not more, while working from home and so may decide the expensive office isn’t necessary but they’ll still want some ‘team time’. Providing a ‘conference table’ where businesses can meet, discuss work and enjoy your hospitality. Families will have missed celebrations and may be looking to combine several events or just wanting to get together for a much-needed meet up.
4. Your people
Staff is likely to be your biggest cost and, this may sound harsh but, they must be right. The struggle is real when it comes to getting good staff in hospitality, whether that’s back or front of house and often its easier to settle for someone rather than THE one. You’ve likely furloughed a lot of your team during this time and have been able to see what life is like without them. Who have you really missed and what do they bring to the team that you can’t live without? There are also the ones without whom life has been a little less stressful.
Any goodwill you may have experienced at the start of lockdown to improve cash flow may be drying up now. Suppliers will be reverting to standard payment terms and Government support will only go far. So now you’ve got to start creating these efficiencies yourself. Look at all raw materials you bring onto site, how will your new model change the demand for certain products? Can this help improve your buying, either through economies of scale or how you source the product (pre prepped vs prep on site)? Now is a good time to look at your pricing and your menus. A lot businesses, across all industries, will set a price at the beginning and then leave it. Food and drink are especially dynamic when it comes to pricing so this needs to be reviewed regularly, making sure you are adding the value you are creating for your customers and taking your competition into consideration. This doesn’t mean hike your prices up 20% when you reopen, but small changes will likely go unnoticed to your customers and if you know where you need to get to you can get there gradually. Making strategic changes to your menus can really support your bottom line by creating economies of scale or improve efficiencies within the kitchen.
6. Do the numbers add up?
Most importantly, all this needs to make financial sense. Your initial decision making will be based on gut feel and whether this feel like the right thing to do, but this needs to be backed up with fact and forecasts. Are your forecasts realistic and based on what you know? Its best to record your assumptions for future reference. Working from the top down can help you to understand if your new normal will work. Identify how much you want to earn each month or over a year. Once you know this you can work out how many covers, customers and average spend you need to achieve this. Is this doable in the new model? If not, what needs the change?
Any finally, get creative! Innovation has always been key throughout all industries but now so more than ever as they attempt to regain interest and invigorate excitement. Getting your brand, product, or service in the forefront of people’s minds when they’re deciding where to spend their money and making sure you stand out from the crowds will be essential. Basically, this is marketing, but that is a whole other blog…!
If you found this useful and want to know how this can be related to your specific business, book a completely FREE discovery call with me, click here to book or give me a call.
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