Prepare your restaurant for the post Pandemic times

5 mins to read

While some restaurant owners are choosing open for patio dining, where weather permits, and indoor dining where allowed, there are also some owners who are choosing to remain as takeout and/or delivery only for the time being. Whichever option is right for you, it’s important to be prepared for future changes to your restaurant’s plan after the coronavirus.

When Will Restaurants Reopen?

Each country will open its economy, with varying numbers of phases. To help get your restaurant ready for your country’s next phase, please see below some thoughts of our Head of Culinary services at Everguest. to find out his top  tips on how to stay in business now and prepare for a full reopening once the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end. 

How Will Restaurants Reopen After the Pandemic?

1. Make the most out of takeout and delivery

No-contact takeout and delivery have become the new norm. One trend noticed is a pivot to family meals, which provide benefits to both the restaurant and their guests. By providing a meal with multiple portions in lieu of individual starters – a whole roast duck or goose with a large salad, for example – you save on packaging, avoid delivery and/or third-party fees, and generate revenue for multiple meals rather than one or two. Meanwhile, a family or couple gets a few days’ worth of meals with limited outside contact.

Additionally, guests are going to start adapting to this new lifestyle, and after this is all over some habits will still remain. Don’t ditch the new takeout and/or delivery system you’ve put in place the second you’re allowed to fully reopen – people may still be looking for it. “The pandemic is going to shift the whole dynamics of the restaurant industry, and that won’t go away.

2. Have your reopening road map

After months of being closed down fully or catering for take away and delivery option, it might be overwhelming to all of the sudden have piles of tasks and boxes to tick in order to be prepared for the big day. Ideally you will need 3 to four weeks, to establish connections with suppliers, your team members who haven’t been working and community in general. State of your restaurant, kitchen, terrace is by now well overdue for a boost in cleanliness, equipment spot check list, decorators details(flowers etc).

 Most importantly to you is to remain loyal to your identity and concept , however menu design and offer, costing the items will also need a review as the whole supply chain has somewhat changed, due to transport issues, some of the supplier went bust, and some will be able to offer same ingredients but on changed pricing due to COVID19 impact on logistics and supply chain. You might learn that you are better off offering dishes on your menu  with locally sourced ingredients . Consistency of supply and your menu offer will be the key to your customer retention and satisfaction. Don’t find yourself over promising but then under-delivering.

Finally establishing team chemistry and get your happy team back on track with potential new members will require quite a bit of training and team building. The service and kitchen team are the last piece of a chain that directly interacts with your guests and they need to be a ready, happy, and functioning team.

3. Maintain Communication With Your Guests

Even if your restaurant is currently in the worst-case scenario and is shut down due to the coronavirus, keeping your restaurant on top-of-mind for guests is crucial to winning back their business when it’s time to reopen.

If you’re not communicating with me and telling me what’s going on, I think you shut down for good”.

Communication  content needs to be kept light and entertaining to get guests excited about coming back after coronavirus. Share videos on your social media teaching knife skills, basic recipes, or showing a new recipe you are developing. Promote this content to your email subscribers as well to get more eyes on your message.

Social media is the most important  communication tool for restaurants who have pivoted to takeout and/or delivery only models. Things are changing fast, so remind and update your customers daily on your menu, ordering options, social distancing procedures, and more.

4. Reopen Your Restaurant at Your Own Pace

When your country says it’s open for business, that doesn’t mean you’ll immediately go back to pre-COVID19 numbers for dine-in. In some cases, depending on your customer base, it may not make sense for you to reopen on the same schedule as your state is allowing. While some restaurants have tried reopening to test it out and adjust, others are choosing to stay strictly takeout and delivery only until the virus is eradicated. Adjusting your operating hours to the new lifestyle and rhythm of your customers is crucial in two aspects. Firstly it will maximize your covers and drive more revenue. On the other side it will allow you flexible rostering and generate savings on the labour cost that will be the same as before the COVID19 the biggest and most impactful on your takings.

5. Look for Opportunities

If you look at the  crisis in general they come in with two main components , danger and opportunity, yes, there is a danger out there. The opportunity is what can we do now that we should’ve done before? One of the biggest things is controlling costs.

Update your menu and evaluate your P&L statement

Take  the opportunity now, while business is slow and you have less inventory coming in, to learn how to better manage your food costs, revamp your menu, and widen your margins. You can use your own POS data to research your historic menu trends, best-selling items, and dishes that are more cost and effort than they’re worth. “Trim your menu down and take off those things that aren’t selling. Start looking deeper into their P&L statements to better understand where your money is going to make better decisions now and in the future. “The good thing about a crisis, we get rid of those things that are the fluff and we strip down to the basics, so we’re running a little leaner and meaner. This crisis is going to change the way we operate, and smart businesses are going to operate smarter. We are going to look at the key performance indicators on a daily basis, and we are going to look at our P&Ls a little more often. 

Ramp up your digital marketing game

Taking photos and writing posts to stay in communication with guests now, but also to have some content banked for the future when you are ready to reopen your restaurant after the coronavirus. Also, now is a great time to test paid advertising on digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram. 

Update your hiring and training methods

A lot of people are unemployed right now, and when restaurants are able to reopen after coronavirus there are going to be a lot of people looking for work. “Before, we had a market where everyone complained it’s hard to find people, and couldn’t find talent. Nobody wanted to work. That’s going to shift very quickly, Hire the right people now and set them up for success, and you’ll lower your turnover rates, saving you money in the long run.

Now is also the time to update your on-boarding process and training procedures so you are prepared to hire the strongest and most qualified staff when the time comes.  Updating your training manuals and current materials but also suggests getting creative with video content. “Now’s the time to grab your iPhone and do some training videos. Make a video with step-by-step instructions on certain tasks – how to make a Caesar salad or how to fold the napkins, for example. You can  start making a little library of training videos for your team that you could upload to a private channel and then, when you start up again and you’re rehiring and retraining, now you’ve got a library that you can send to your new employees.. People love that kind of staff. 

Now is the time to think good and long, What is your Vision, how will you achieve it. How many missions you need to achieve in order to reach your Vision. What kind of Pillars do you have to support your Mission and Vision. Are there Core values in your team and how do they support the holding Pillars. Defining the above is the only way towards , healthy, and prosperous business model in any field, not just restaurants.

Weeks and months to come will show us the norms of new life, restaurants and bars will come back, maybe in a different shape or form, but one thing for sure we all miss them very much and can’t wait for that green light in the end of the tunnel so we can go back to what we do the best, MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY.

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