As we cautiously take our first steps out of lockdown, many businesses will be keen to resume trading. Those in the hospitality sector, who’ve had their revenues entirely slashed, will want to open as soon as possible.
Here we explore the challenges your business faces, and how to adapt accordingly.
1. Plan Carefully
The PM recently announced that hospitality businesses could be allowed to open from 1st July, provided they follow social distancing rules.
If your business is solely offline and not generating revenue, you’ll likely want to re-open as soon it’s permitted.
But this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly. Operations will have to change to reflect the post-lockdown world we’re entering.
The premises might have to be rearranged, staff retrained, and supply chains restarted.
Explore the challenges your business might face in re-opening, and how you can overcome them. It is essential you don’t rush the process. Use the time between now and July to plan and prepare.
2. Adhere to Social Distancing Rules
As we mentioned, your premises will have to undergo changes to make it safer for both staff and customers.
Government advice on this is continually being updated, but we can assume that tables will need to be kept at least 1 or 2 metres apart.
In Italy, who have just started re-opening cafes & restaurants, plastic screens have been placed at tills and between tables:
It’s too soon to say whether the UK government will adopt this approach, but it’s worth taking into consideration.
Regardless, the entire premises will need to be thoroughly cleaned daily, right down to the door handles. Hand sanitiser should be available to use. If you have seating areas, they should be disinfected in-between customers.
Provide masks and gloves for your employees. Not only do they offer protection, but they also act as a visual indication that you’re taking the safety of customers seriously.
3. Take Reservations
Social distancing measures, such as the 2-metre rule, above will no doubt slash the seating capacity of businesses.
Pre-bookings will allow you to control the flow of customers and therefore the safety of your establishment.
Customers will not want to stand inside a restaurant waiting for a table. If you don’t already have an online booking system, implement one as soon as possible.
This doesn’t have to involve complicated IT systems – a quicker solution is to set up your pages Facebook Messenger to answer customer queries. You can answer them yourself or, more intuitively, set up a chatbot.
We often create chatbots for our clients here at E1MA, as it acts as both a way to communicate with customers and as a promotional tool:
A chatbot can answer any potential questions a customer may have, including the steps you’ve taken to make your premises as safe as possible.
4. Set Up Google My Business
Aside from social media, Google is where customers will search for information on your business.
This is while it’s imperative that your Google My Business page is up-to-date with your latest opening hours, menu and contact details.
What is Google My Business? It’s essentially a listing service that allows you business to appear in Google Maps and next to search results:
Creating an account is free, fast and could increase pre-bookings and foot traffic.
5. Communicate With Your Customers
Once your business is ready to re-open, announce it on social media.
Clearly communicate the measures you’ve taken to ensure the customer’s experience is as safe as possible:
Take photos of your newly-transformed premises and upload these in a carousel post, so potential customers know what to expect.
When it comes to a caption, a candid approach might work best.
Consumers desperately want to support their local businesses during this time, so be transparent regarding the challenges you’ve faced during lockdown and in re-opening.
Reply to any and all questions that are asked within the comments. Even regular patrons will be hesitant to visit your premises at first, so a positive, reassuring tone of voice is essential.
Finally, gather customer feedback – did you feel safe? Was the service fast? What improvements can you make?
This is new to everyone, so don’t worry if things aren’t perfect – consumers will be much more understanding. If there’s one message that’s been illustrated during the pandemic, it’s that we are all in this together.