Ensure your business is at the forefront of everyone’s minds come May 17th

For those that aren’t as fortunate to have outdoor facilities, May 17th is the date that many publicans, operators and business owners are finally able to reopen their businesses, after nearly four months in lockdown for the hospitality sector.

Now more than ever it’s vital these venues are doing everything they can to help boost their business, and with less than a month to go, we’ve put together a list of steps you can take to make the most of these final weeks and ensure your business is at the forefront of everyone’s minds come May 17th.

It’s time for a spring clean

There is no doubt that the hospitality industry has been one of the most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and venues across the country have been sitting, empty, gathering dust and filling with cobwebs since the beginning of this year. However, with the grand reopening of the sector on the horizon, now is the perfect time to kick start the journey to normality with a deep spring-clean of your venue.

There’s nothing more satisfying than undergoing a spring clean. With coronavirus still very much in circulation, sanitation and cleanliness should be a top priority, and venues will need to continue to take extra care when it comes to cleaning. While this can seem like a daunting task, there are a range of ways to make a spring clean more manageable -make sure you have all the right gear, stock up on antibacterial cleaning products etc.

Be legally compliant

Alongside a regular deep-clean, it is also important that you’re ensuring that you’re up to date with any new covid guidelines when it comes to preparing to reopen. This is especially vital if your site or location has been closed or operated only partially throughout the times when restrictions have been in place, as you may also have to take extra steps to ensure customers can dine safely come May 17th.

The Government has made changes to their guidelines for opening the hospitality sector, so it’s important to brush up on any new policies and ensure your staff have updated their knowledge, too. For further information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/restaurants-offering-takeaway-or-delivery

Refine your menu

Lockdown has provided everyone with a unique (and unavoidable) opportunity to get creative in their own kitchens. While for some, this may have been a journey of self-discovery and culinary excellence, we are under no illusion that the public aren’t planning on spending as much time as they can making the most of their new freedoms this year.

This will mean many of you are about to experience perhaps your busiest summer on record. Moreover, with many coronavirus restrictions limiting capacity in some way until at least June 21st, it is likely that you will have to make some changes to operations and your menu in order to boost efficiency. Slimming down and/or revamping your menu is an effective means of ensuring things run smoothly both in the kitchen and front of house; especially as you’ll likely be operating with fewer kitchen staff than you would under normal circumstances. You don’t necessarily need to do something completely new -have a look at old sales reports to identify any previous best-sellers and make sure to make use of high-margin items to maximise profitability
In addition, consider incorporating some new items into your menu or get creative and offer some ‘post-lockdown’ deals. People will likely be looking out for something fresh and exciting, and offering special deals is a sure way to entice diners.
Make the most of social media

Leading on from this, now is the perfect time to really ramp up your social media game. With many spending far more time at home at the moment, people are also naturally spending more time on their phones, so boosting your social media presence is highly likely to garner some attention from both potential and existing customers.

Social media is also a great way to advertise your business and generate some hype ahead of reopening. Make sure you’re posting regularly, and take advantage of platforms such as Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to post pictures of your new menu, encourage customers to pre-book tables and buy advance tickets for any events. It’s also a good idea to create a social media calendar and schedule postings, so that once things open up again and you’re super busy, you can focus on the operational side of things and let social media run itself.

You can also expand your market reach, boost brand awareness and pique potential customer’s interest by running competitions or special events. For example, you could run a social media contest and offer the winner and their friends a free meal/drinks on their first visit.

Online content

Alongside making sure you’re active on social media, it’s also important to update your website to reflect your current trading status and opening hours. In addition, provide information on what measures you’ll be taking once you can reopen to ensure the safety of customers, as this is something many people will be concerned about in the coming months.

It’s a good idea to dedicate a whole page on your website to explaining the various impacts that COVID-19 has had on your business, detail any changes to your booking policy, and provide any practical information that may have an impact on guests’ experiences such as social distancing. It is also important to let customers and suppliers know how to get in touch with you during the remainder of the lockdown period.

This is also a great time to go through and overhaul any existing website content, for example by removing any information about expired events or outdated blog posts, ensure your current menus are up to date and correct, take and upload some new pictures, and add details of any new events or services you’re offering in the coming months.

We hope these suggestions and ideas have given you some inspiration on steps you can take to make sure you’re fully prepared for reopening. Good luck and stay safe!