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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!