Reopening Your Food Business After A Lockdown

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Whether it’s another lockdown or declining dine-in numbers, the stress that the pandemic has had on business owners across the globe has been devastating. Despite this, there is hope.

We’ve seen all kinds of food businesses bounce back by adapting to new health guidelines, switching to takeaway orders and revising their entire business models. So if you’re lucky enough to be able to reopen after lockdown, here’s how you can get back on your feet:

Adapt Your Business Model & Finances

If there’s one thing that COVID-19 has forced us to do, it’s to step back and look at the bigger picture. That means if there are certain services or products working in your favour, it’s best to capitalise on them.

So why not revise your menu and kitchen systems? You may want to consider:

  • Switching to an online menu software like Menuzen, where customers can scan a QR code or browse your live menu on your website 
  • Tailoring your menu to takeaway and delivery dishes that can be easily prepared in bulk
  • Selling meal kits or family meals instead of individual items to reduce packaging
  • Using the same ingredients in more dishes to reduce food costs and wastage
  • Upgrading your kitchen equipment to improve cooking times and methods
  • Establishing contact-free pick up points at your restaurant

Other adjustments in your restaurant might include:

  • Removing or rearranging outdoor seating to adhere to social distancing rules 
  • Removing beverage bars and self-serve options (if applicable)
  • Adjusting operating hours to account for cleaning times

With everyone doing it tough in the industry, you may be able to come to a compromise with relevant stakeholders and cut back on costs. This means:

  • Negotiating with your landlord for lower rent
  • Negotiating with stockists and vendors for better deals on food, supplies and equipment
  • Finding other ways to reduce expenses and explore new revenue streams

Adhere To COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Remember, playing by the rule book is the only way to ensure you keep your staff and customers safe and happy in uncertain times. You’ll want to:

  • Enforce a regular store-wide cleaning schedule 
  • Ensure venue capacity is never exceeded at any point
  • Provide sufficient face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitiser and soap
  • Train staff on cleaning, health screening and social distancing measures
  • Train staff on how to deal with non-complying customers 
  • Cross-train staff in case staff members are absent
  • Monitor employee health and establish sick leave conditions 
  • Consolidate rules into clearly written guides, posters and checklists
  • Keep on top of the latest government guidelines and health advice

Communicate With Customers

If you weren’t staying in touch with customers over lockdown, you’ve missed out on an opportunity to keep top of mind. Even if it’s teasing a new takeaway menu, sharing fun facts about your team or showcasing your at-home food creations, these are all ways forward-thinking content ideas that have kept customers excited for their favourite restaurant’s reopening.

Now that you’re set to reopen, taking to social media to announce the good news is the first step. From thereon, initiating a countdown or starting conversations with your audience can help you build and reinforce customer relationships. We suggest asking your customers what they’re looking forward to eating again, informing them of your safe health practices and reminding them about your takeaway and delivery options.

Don’t forget to update your website and Google My Business to let your customers know your new opening hours.

Take Advantage Of Government Assistance

If you happen to live in a country where government assistance is available, this is the last vital step you need to take. Whether it’s a grant for local businesses or a subsidy on energy bills, we urge you to apply for these. You never know – a little can go a long way!