The length or duration of the recovery from the pandemic and the lingering effects of Covid-19 remains unknown. However, we know that reopening requires careful and conservative planning and preparation, with changes to pre-pandemic strategies to capital management, operations, marketing, and sanitation. Here are five things restaurant and bar owners must do heading into a post-pandemic phase. Read on!
1. Financial Planning
The first step in developing a practical approach to re-enter the market is comprehending economic recovery models. It is crucial to prepare for various scenarios and focus on wise spending of your available capital to maintain your business and make it more sustainable through the crises.
Pick the Right Time to Reopen
Research shows that reopening your bar or restaurant after the Covid-19 pandemic won’t be like opening day. Chances are many other concepts in the market will open at the same time. You may experience the pent-up demand for social interaction with an abundance of caution from people who have not contracted the novel coronavirus.
Therefore, it is crucial to pick the right time to reopen and focus on planning and budgeting for a specific period of re-staffing and re-training to bring your restaurant or bar business back to life.
At the same time, you must focus on targeting a return to the market with long-term sustainability. Here are some critical considerations to relaunch your restaurant business.
- Lift voluntary and mandatory restrictions
- Make available virus testing and antibody testing
- Neighboring restaurants and bars have reopened
- You have made modifications to your dining room
- Your restaurant is ready for social distancing
- You have rehired essential staff who can work safely
- You can retain your staff on modified safety and sanitation procedures
- You have secured capital to sustain your business
- You have a solid PR and social media plan to let your customers know you are back in business
Preparing your restaurant or bar staff and modifying business operations is an effective way to position your business for long-term success. Besides considering social distancing protocols and measures, it is crucial to protect all available capital reserves to continue your business operations. Here is what we recommend:
- Funnel your payments or profits into your cash reserves
- Maintain your essential workforce to wear hats during slower recovery periods
- Open with a smaller and more focused menu to account for lower demands
- Budget your food and essential service spending rigorously
- Reactivate and promote your digital or online reservation system
- Tighten controls and measures on discounts and comps
- Leverage new capital investment to ensure you have prepared a cash reserve
- Ramp up customers communication efforts around new and effective procedures
- Explore practical ways for your restaurant business to adopt or diversify additional revenue-generating strategies or services
2. Capital Management
Unless your restaurant business is blessed with unlimited capital, the chances are that you will have to reach out for additional capital to prepare your business for the post-pandemic era. Bear in mind that the federal stimulus bill provides limited funding, meaning bar and restaurant owners need to look for additional capital sources to make it through the recovery. Here are some of the best funding sources that you should tap when preparing your business for the post-pandemic era.
- SBA 7 (a) Loans
- Local Banks
- Private investors
- Equity partners
- Friends plus family
Budget Your Expenses
If you want to manage your finances, make sure you budget them. Ensure you are well aware of the total fixed costs, working costs, and how much money you make. Budget everything to avoid confusion and ensure tracking of your expenses. Budgeting tells you about your assets and liabilities and helps you prioritize essential tasks, leading to increased income generation and higher ROIs.
Maintain Your Cash Flow Statement
A cash flow statement tells you about your daily activities and how they impact your cash in your business. It means the amount of money you have in hand, the amount coming and going, etc. A cash flow statement allows you to know how your bar or restaurant looks financially and help you plan for the future.
Focus on Reporting
If you want to streamline your day-to-day account management, focusing on implementing a solid reporting strategy. The purpose is to have a clear idea of your daily expenses and sales. That way, you can tack your restaurant performances and analyze loopholes. You can use restaurant inventory software like KEXY and a POS system to generate detailed reports.
3. Operational Adjustments
The post-pandemic reality requires you to implement different strategies and follow a different course of action to ensure your guests feel comfortable and confident going out again. In this section, we will outline strategies and procedures that you can implement to protect your customers and plan for a post-pandemic restaurant launch.
Social Distancing Guidelines
- Increase spacing between tables to ensure six-foot of separation between groups of guests and tables.
- Remove every other stool in your bar to ensure comfortable separation for guests.
- Increase private dining opportunities with flexible screens and partitions
- Ensure comfortable service pathways for your staff and guests
- Remove excess tables and chairs to maintain social distancing protocols.
- Determine storage areas for excess equipment and furniture
- Add hand sanitizer stations throughout your restaurant, particularly at the entrance
Pickup and Delivery Procedures
- Dedicate a separate pickup area for your delivery staff and stage a pickup shelf at your restaurant’s back entrance
- Mark out waiting-spots or social distancing queuing on the floor, so guests remain at a safe distance apart and wait for their order
- Add specific windows of time for pickups to avoid crowds waiting for orders
- Print a card that outlines your safety, social distancing, and sanitation processes for your guests
- Communicate your food handling processes through your online channels, including your website and social media
As your guests begin to return to your restaurant or bar in weeks after the Covid-19 pandemic, they will do so with trepidation. People who have not been infected with the virus may be wary of crowded spaces and close contact with your service staff until they receive vaccines. Therefore, we recommend:
- Daily staff testing
- Antibody testing
- Sick leave guidelines
- Staff sanitation training
- Disinfected restrooms
4. Effective Communication Strategies
Returning customers must feel safe, comfortable, and confident to part with their dining dollars once the government lifts restrictions. In this section, we will discuss how to message on-premise and engagement opportunities during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Customers will emerge from the stay-at-home protocols craving social connections and a return to normalcy. However, some guests will feel less secure with their financial position and may feel worried about the future. Exuding confidence is the best way to respond to both and let your customers know that you have prepared your business for an exceptional experience and safety. Consider the following:
- Educate your guests
- Highlight new communication options
o Use the public-facing channel to communicate policies, hours, and operational changes
- Find ways to communicate creative approaches to a new normal and take steps to provide social connection
Signage and Visual Communication
It is crucial to focus on smart social distancing wayfinding and signage to stay creative and effective through your brand identify. We recommend the following ways to help your customers acclimate to your restaurant or bar’s response to the new normal.
- Use creative floor stencils on the exterior or interior of your business to indicate group waiting areas
- Place a marquee menu board at the host stand to communicate with your guests clearly
- Design reservation markers for tables to ensure earmarking of appropriate space
- Mark areas for your customers and delivery pickup with the restaurant or bar to ensure diners and drivers avoid guessing or needlessly approach your staff when picking up food.
Digital and Social Media Strategy
Many restaurant and bar owners want to know when and how to communicate with their regular patrons. While many restaurant businesses are still recovering from their sudden closing and quarantine, they are anxious to maintain their relationships they built over the years. Here are a few strategies that you need to implement to streamline your digital and social media communication.
- Demonstrations and How-To’s
- Community engagement
- Reminder videos and content
- Promote cross-selling, collaboration, and rewards
- Appropriate food recipes and cock-tails for home-use
- Provide live-streamed entertainment from your restaurant’s location
- Customer polling and opinion on social media
- Coming soon messaging on social media
5. Triage Strategies
Experts recommend thinking about what’s coming up for the industry and how to generate new revenue streams for your restaurant and unique experiences for your customers. In this section, we will discuss opportunities for restaurants and bars to explore and diversify new ideas about the future of drinking and eating.
For many bars and restaurants, the goals during the Covid-19 pandemic are to maintain their employees, generate much-needed cash flow, and support their community. However, for many restaurant owners, this will happen with the traditional business model. We recommend focusing on the following:
- Implement high-quality food delivery services
- Employ a virtual restaurant feature and focus on online ordering
- Have a ghost kitchen with no guest seating space
- Focus on curbside pickup
- Private dining is the go-to option in the post-pandemic world
As your restaurant or bar business evolves in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, you can use several technology systems and platforms to support your business’s new aspects. In addition to using KEXY, which is a high powered, free inventory and ordering application for bars and restaurants; we suggest focusing on the following things as well:
- Waiting lists and paging apps
- Integrated online ordering
- Curbside delivery and self-ordering kiosks