A lot has happened to the restaurant world over the last few months. The coronavirus pandemic took the nation by surprise, and although some restaurants were able to keep their heads above water by promoting their take-out businesses, the truth is that many restauranteurs find themselves in difficult financial straights right now.
The question on everyone’s mind is whether they can afford to reopen or not. After months of falling revenue, many restaurant owners are looking at their books and trying to decide whether they should cut their losses or keep going. This is a very difficult and personal decision, but there are several tips for reopening that every restauranter should be aware of before they make their ultimate decision.
We’ve collected the best of them and included them in this blog. So take a look at our 5 tips for reopening your restaurant the right way before you decide what to do next.
5 Tips for Reopening Your Restaurant the Right Way
- Follow All State & CDC Guidelines – Let’s get this out of the way first. Regardless of what you think about the coronavirus and your state government’s reaction to it, this is no time to get political. At least not in your establishment. Make sure you’re well-acquainted with your state’s opening requirements before you reopen and consider whether you can implement these guidelines. The CDC has also created recommendations for how restaurants should reopen, and you should become acquainted with these too. You want your customers to feel confident that you’re on top of the latest precautions and that you’re taking their health seriously.
- Train Your Staff – All of these guidelines mean that your staff has a new set of protocols to learn. Make sure you take the time to train them and listen to their concerns. While you should absolutely stress the seriousness of these regulations, remember this is new for everyone, so there’s bound to be a learning curve. Also, your senior staff members might have helpful ideas about how these regulations could be implemented so be open-minded about listening to them.
- Reach Out to Vendors – One of the few good things about the COVID crisis is that businesses nationwide are experiencing the same discomfort. This means that your vendors will probably be sympathetic to your concerns moving forward, so there’s really no harm in getting on the phone with them and seeing what they can do for you. Ask them if they’re cutting any deals in light of recent events or if they’ll take back any non-perishable items like unopened bottles of alcohol or pantry items. You’ll probably be surprised at how helpful people want to be during this time.
- Communicate with Guests – Let’s face it–your day-to-day operations could be a little rocky in the beginning. That’s why it’s best to communicate with your guests concerning any issues that arrive during service. Like we said in the last tip, most Americans understand the unique challenges that this virus brings, and they want to see your business succeed. So if you don’t want small problems to grow larger, being straightforward with your customers when an issue arises is the best rule of thumb during this time.
- Create a 3-Part Plan – We’ll second this advice from QSR magazine and say that making a short and long-term plan is extremely important to your success right now. Create 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month plans that are feasible for your business. To start with, based on where your restaurant is with state regulations, begin to implement new offers during each plan. These could be things like upping your retail game by selling spice blends, sauces, meal kits, etc., offering discounts on gift cards, or implementing a socially distant happy hour. Whatever you think will be successful with your clientele. As each plan phases out, consider what worked for your business and what your customers enjoyed. Keep what works, eliminate what doesn’t, and continue to evolve your plans as we move forward into a brighter future for all of us.