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PLANNING AHEAD FOR THE FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY’S ‘NEW NORMAL’

Given the current global crisis that we’re all living in and the hardships it places on our businesses it’s only too easy to remain focussed on the ‘here’ and ‘now.’ Despite this we must remember that in the future when restrictions finally start to ease we will need to be ready to respond accordingly. Until the time this ‘new normal’ is upon us and we can look at Covid-19 in the rear view mirror, it’s definitely worth reviewing your business processes and anticipated future needs right now.

To guide you through the process of preparing your business for the changes ahead we’ve compiled some great advice and handy tips to help.

Please remember that you should always consider what is right for you and your business in the circumstances and seek professional advice if unsure.

Make the most of your slow days

In a busy society that’s in a state of constant rush, having too much time on your hands truly is a rare problem. Right now, many of us have more hours in the day, than we have work to do. This creates the perfect opportunity to address some of the less urgent tasks we’ve all put off until now.

How many of these things have you been meaning to do for a while?

  • Break down all the equipment and clean everything from the inside out
  • Re-organise the walk-in freezer, label all the ingredients, and set it all up for efficient access
  • Clean and sanitise all storage areas
  • Take inventory of cookware, equipment, plates, glassware, etc. and sell anything you don’t need
  • Overhaul your point of sale system and remove old buttons and codes to speed up the process

Optimise your menu and keep it lean

Many restaurants have reduced the size of their menus to lower inventory, minimise preparation and streamline their operations. Now that you’ve trimmed down your offering, there’s no need to reintroduce complicated, expensive, or less popular items right away. Give yourself time to recover from the dip in demand and get back to your regular sales volume.

If you can, offer a maximum of between 5 and 15 dishes and keep things simple so you can be as efficient as possible. Smaller menus are easier to sustain financially and will help restaurants ease into their new normal. They also make it easier to keep ingredients fresh and reduce waste.

We suggest prioritising menu items that:

  • Require minimal preparation
  • Are inexpensive and/or have strong margins
  • Can easily be executed by a single cook
  • Sell well and are customer favourites
  • Are suitable for takeaway (pizza, burgers, etc.)
  • Do not require unique or exotic ingredients, which are more likely to go to waste due to lower sales volumes

Fine-tune your operations

At some stage when dining rooms are open once again, you can expect that customers will be more cautious, the rules stricter and as such your sales approach may need to be updated. With this in mind here’s some suggestions about how you can set yourself up for success:

  • Bring staff in 2-3 days before you reopen to reset and sanitise the restaurant
  • Give your staff a refresher of your expectations: highlight what makes your brand unique and special, get them excited about being back on the job and focus on salesmanship
  • Consider setting up your dining room with a dedicated area for take-out: an increased focus on off-premises consumption may be a part of the new normal
  • You may want to arrange tables to be mindful of physical distancing, since government regulations are likely to mandate distancing inside of restaurants
  • Keep in touch with the local health authority: they may have specific directives for you to follow and will potentially need to inspect the facilities before you reopen
  • Make sure all your services fit your current needs and see if you can optimise any of them. Some services to look at are: knife sharpening, window washing, landscaping, TV sports and music packages, etc.
  • Plan a soft opening with family and friends to get a “test run” under your belt before you start serving the general public, so you can work out any last-minute snags.

Bounce back with confidence

It’s totally possible to adjust and streamline your internal processes while staying true to your brand! You don’t need to completely change your identity or business model to succeed - stick to the simplest, most optimised version of your core identity so customers can enjoy what they know and love, and you can sustain your business for months and years to come.

For more helpful information regarding the current situation, you can visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub for related articles and additional information.