12 Step Roadmap to Building Back Better Post Lockdown
Table of Contents
- Reinvigorate your offer
- Grill the takeaway topic
- Reprice everything
- You’re only as good as your team
- Your customer service is everything
- Have reservations about reservations
- Monitor your Virus Security
- Be alert about operational safeguarding
- Don’t underestimate dates
- Support ‘long live the local’
- Rethink outsourcing
“As the roadmap to recovery post lockdown has been laid out, hospitality operators are carefully considering their next steps to ensure that they reopen successfully. Businesses that are keen to start afresh, with renewed resilience in the new normal, as well as long-term vision for the future, should explore these steps to build back better.”
– Malcolm Muir, Consultancy Director, Venners
1. Reinvigorate your offer
A year of restrictions has seen new trends and customer expectations emerge that your old offer may no longer fulfil. Competition too, both on a local and national level, may have completely turned a leaf.
If you had a great offer pre-COVID, it may still be great now. But there’s no harm in certifying whether your offer is still relevant and grabbing new opportunities that have arisen due to changes in behaviour, demographics and competition.
2. Grill the takeaway topic
Since the pandemic, many pubs and restaurants have introduced a takeaway offering. You should, however, make sure that this second income stream remains sustainable and doesn’t start competing with your onsite service once this reopens.
Also question if your takeaway offering really mirrors the qualities of the main business. If it does, make sure your forecasts account for the additional costs associated to presentation and brand experience, which are as intrinsic to each dish you deliver as any other ingredient.
3. Reprice everything
Pricing is based around both the cost of the product and the demand for it. If costs have changed and demand has changed, then your selling prices should change too. Be prepared to tweak prices up and down where necessary. With many menus having moved online and table apps readily available, these tweaks have become easier to manage than ever before.
4. You’re only as good as your team
A great deal has been said about what businesses have learnt from 2020. It is also true that staff have learnt a great deal about their employers. Whether furloughed or working through, staff have made a series of judgements about how they were treated and more than ever this will impact on staff turnover in the future.
Continue to find ways to cultivate your company culture so that the busyness of a fully functioning operation doesn’t damage your great relationships.
5. Your customer service is everything
Whilst many operators have done phenomenal jobs of keeping customers engaged, the love of ‘hospitality’ has in some ways also grown cold. The truth is, customers are unlikely to be able to experience your brand in the same way they used to. Think social distancing, masks and a certain rigidity in experiences resulting from regulations.
Finding ways to improve customer service is vital before things get really busy again. Now is the time to refocus on what has always made hospitality great.
6. Have reservations about reservations
Whether you have an app that does it for you, or your team takes telephone reservations, you should analyse if there is any room to improve the efficiency of your reservations strategy. Unoccupied tables cost money. So why do we so often arrange for our own restaurant tables to sit empty, not paying their way? Time invested in planning available reservation periods is well spent. If you are in the height of the season, do you need to take reservations at all?
7. Monitor your Virus Security
Hospitality operators will continue to face risks surrounding both current, but also future virus threats.
Recent reports show hospitality settings to be safer than many other areas of society thanks to the early investment they put into ensuring venues were COVID secure. It’s now a case of continuing to monitor virus security, particularly as adaptations to regulations unfold. We certainly anticipate this newest compliance trend of 2021 to be one that many hospitality operators will need to jump onboard with.
8. Be alert about operational safeguarding
Revisit policies that safeguard your revenue. Some may feel confident that their team of managers are generally following the rules and that any losses are tolerable. But the detail of cash and revenue control can be lost in the fog of day-to-day operations. Introducing the right levels of operational controls and compliance monitoring across an estate tends to uncover a host of issues that may have previously remained hidden from head office and were therefore left unchallenged.
9. Don’t underestimate dates
This unique moment of having to restock should give us cause to pause and plan for better stockholding. Most operators will have minimal cash flow and therefore need to make sure that the stock they buy will convert to cash soon. Don’t get left with stock on a shelf and pay extra attention to sell-by dates. Take an opening stock and review it each time you order more stock. More frequent, but smaller deliveries may be the best way forward while you increase cash within the business.
IT departments around the world have this emblazoned on T shirts. In case you were not aware, it is a non-too polite way of explaining to people that they might ‘Read The Manual’ before complaining to IT that their printer is broken.
It applies to hospitality managers as well though. In this instance it refers to an instruction to regularly and religiously ‘Read The Meter’. Water, electricity and gas costs can run away with a business and stories of businesses hit by big bills will regularly show that nobody was reading the meter, but they should form part of any weekly reporting to Head office. Setting simple operating procedures like this in place returns control and monitors costs of the business.
11. Support ‘long live the local’
In this instance, we’re not just talking about the fantastic cause. This phrase translates directly to corporate social responsibility as well. Sustainability and supporting community is back on the menu for good and many have used lockdown to branch out and deepen their ties with ‘long live the local’.
Make sure the ties you’ve made are with the right suppliers though, because sadly not all suppliers will have survived in the same scale they once were. This means they may no longer be able to deliver on the days you wanted or supply the products you need. The imports process has changed since we were last open and hasn’t been tested with an economy running at 100%. As part of the review of your food and drink offer, you will need to be flexible until regular supply is confirmed.
12. Rethink outsourcing
The stark reality of our current trading landscape is that we all have to make some brutal decisions about fixed salary costs. This should not, though, impact on your service or on the controls in place protecting your stock and revenue. Outsourcing your stocktaking and compliance or financial auditing functions, particularly at this time, offers a number of benefits.
Operators looking to implement critical operational and financial controls as their business reopens should visit www.venners.com for further information.