The year 2020, so far, has been a nearly impossible year to be optimistic about the future of hospitality if you are a restaurant owner or manager.  After several months of complete lockdown, the re-opening procedure is proving to be another difficult challenge to negotiate.  Combining the need to keep customers and staff safe during a pandemic while ensuring a good customer experience at their time in your restaurant is no small task.  The need to succeed at both these challenges while keeping your business profitable is proving exceedingly difficult for many.

Here, we offer seven tips to help restaurants get through this difficult period.

1. Take the Financial Support available.

If you have not already done so, register for the government’s “Eat out to Help out scheme”, where you can give customers a 50% reduction, up to the value of £10 per person,  on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout August. It includes soft drinks, but not alcohol, and can be reclaimed back through the scheme.

2. Keep Costs Down

Menu Adjustments

You could consider scaling down the menu to limit the amount of cash tied up in stock.  Ensure that your most popular dishes and signature dishes remain on the menu but limit the number of more niche dishes being offered.

Staff Training

Take advantage of completing food safety staff training online. Lower costs are a clear benefit. However completing staff training in this way bring other benefits including

  • Flexibility. Staff will not need to take time off while you are busy and can fit training around the work schedule
  • Mobility. Training can be completed anywhere there is wifi
  • Course material can be referred back to easily
  • Cost of online learning is significantly cheaper

Agile Career Training has a full suite of food safety training, compliant with British food safety standards and UK legislation. You can access these courses by clicking on the links below

3. Customer Service and the Customer’s Experience. 

The benefits of good customer service cannot be understated. It includes repeat business, more sales better cash flow. Developing positive relationships with your customers provides you with access to real market research on what your customers want. This will give the customer a high level of satisfaction and give you repeat business and word of mouth referrals from happy customers.

Dispel the myth that eating out will no longer be an enjoyable experience.  As social distancing needs to be adhered to, it can be used to provide a more intimate experience for diners, by adding a little table luxury and complimentary appetizer will help get return customers and referrals.

Our Customer Service training course examines what your customer needs from you and how you can ensure this need not just met, but delivered in a way that ensures the customer has a great experience. Communications style is central to good customer services and much of the course deals with fostering and improving the best ways to communicate with customers.

Customer Services CPD certificated online training

4. Upsell.

When collecting phone numbers for track and trace, ask your customers to also leave their email addresses if they would like to be told about future offer, when the government 50% deal is over.   This will give you a list of direct contacts of previous diners, many of whom will be very keen to take advantage of a future offer sent to them via email. Also, ask your customers to recommend your restaurant to their friends.

5. Reassuring Customers that you take their safety seriously.  

While people want things to get back to normal, many are frightened of contracting covid-19.  It is important to communicate that they are not putting themselves at extra risk while eating at your restaurant. Be seen to be following government guidelines.  State the measures you take for the safety of staff and customers on your website and social media accounts and invite questions from customers through your social media accounts about how you are keeping your business safe at this time. .

6. Optimise your Digital Presence.

If you offer takeaway and delivery services, ensure you have an online ordering and payment system on your website.  Use your social media presence to both promote your offers and use as a customer service tool to interact with customers. Now is the time to revamp tired, old websites and use them as part of the atmosphere you want associated with your restaurant.

Social Media for Business CPD certificated online training

Our digital training courses are designed to enable you to use social media as an effective business marketing tool. The main objective is to provide sufficient information to enable you to develop a social media strategy for a business and implement that strategy personally.  If you decide to pay for social media services, the course will give you the knowledge that will enable you to monitor the activities of a specialist social media or digital marketing agency.

7. Employee Training and Good Employee relations.

If you are not able to keep employees on the payroll, make sure you part company on good terms. Tell them that you hope to be able to re-hire them when things improve and offer them good references to enable them to move on unhindered. This could mean that when things do improve, you are not starting again from square one and some of your former staff may be available to rehire.

What works for some businesses will not work for all but finding your combination of the tips above will help you weather this storm.  If you focus on those areas that make your restaurant special, it’s unique selling point, your might find ways of improving your business in ways you hadn’t previously thought of which could help you emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.

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