• Chris Cowls

Restaurant re-opening – a quick fire checklist

Keep an eye out for developments in Government about the furlough scheme ceasing / opening (in some form) being allowed.

  • Keep in close touch with colleagues in Hospitality - you are not alone!

  • Start planning all aspects of your business from re-opening until some months further on. Have a close look at current processes – customer facing and back of house - to see which can be overhauled. Effective cleaning regimes will be more important than ever.

  • Your offer may well have to be flexed along with how it is delivered e.g. take-away & delivery options; plated (or boxed) portions; linear restaurant flows for social distancing.

  • Include your key staff in your planning – they have local knowledge and a real stake in it all working well.

  • Although ops costs investment will be needed initially, keep an iron grip on all costs when up and running - protect every £ earned - cash is truly King, Queen and every other title!

  • Consider the trading profile for your first weeks after opening – you are highly unlikely to achieve a big bang recovery to prior year’s levels of trading!

  • Draw up your pre-opening tactical checklist for everything from notifying your utility providers to hand sanitiser ordering. Allocate tasks to your team.


Customers and Offer

Customer re-connection

  • Plan how to make your customers feel safe / confident about your offer as they return.

  • Think about a teaser opening campaign & ongoing offers.

  • Have you any bookings that have been held over from pre-closedown? Is your customer database clean and ready to use?

  • Harness your social media platforms & local advertising - more comms are better than less.

Staffing

  • Plan how to protect your staff and consider their mental wellbeing - what will you have to do to reassure them about coming back to a crowded environment?

  • Staff may need to return to work on a phased basis as trade builds up - determine how many and which staff are required at different levels of trading.

  • Can any of your staff work cross-functionally?

  • Know how to legally re-introduce staff back into work – will you have to lay some off?

  • Re-train all your staff and motivate before re-opening, especially as we are allowed to train during furlough.

Menu review

  • With a potential slower recovery, review the content of your menu.

  • Think about disposable menus as the norm going forward.

  • Consider a more efficient offer as an opening menu, focussing on the most popular dishes / easiest to prepare / least wastage / most profitable items.

  • A number of operators are already in discussion about Make vs. Buy – pre-prepared product yielding kitchen labour efficiency and reducing waste.

  • Re-look at your pricing structure - what will your customers pay initially?


Supply Chain

Suppliers, product & systems

  • Do not ignore your suppliers, especially your key ones. Keep talking to them, they are looking at you too. Give them confidence that you will be re-opening and involve them in your plan where possible.

  • Some suppliers will go out of business. What are your alternatives if they do? New suppliers will be risk averse which could affect your terms of trade and cashflow.

  • Product availability could be affected. What are your options?

  • Make sure that your IT systems are maintained, you will need them more than ever.


Property


Minor refurb or equipment fix

  • This could range from a simple paint job to replacing that chiller or extractor that keeps failing. It is the best opportunity you have to sort this out!

  • With some operators closing for good there will be opportunities for acquiring furniture or equipment at bargain prices.

  • The High Street is going to look different. How will you stand out?

Landlord relationship

  • These are tough times for all and (as with your bank) your landlord(s) will want you to succeed - you will get more leverage when you do!

Number of covers and floorspace

  • Customers will still be concerned about space between tables, consider reducing covers until business has fully recovered.

Health and Safety / licensing

  • Food Hygiene Ratings will be even more important to customers - get top marks.

  • You may need to apply for new licences in order to be ready for re-opening.

The above is intended as a guide and is not a comprehensive list!

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