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How to Prepare Your Hospitality Business for Reopening

27 Jul 2023


Updated - 22 February, 2021 

The Government has today unveiled its timetable for easing lockdown restrictions and reopening the economy. The rollout is broken down into four key stages, spaced five weeks apart. Outdoor hospitality will be able to resume from April 12 at the earliest as part of Stage 2 of the lockdown easing. Following that crucial milestone, pubs and restaurants will be able to resume indoor service from May 17 at the earliest.

To help hospitality businesses adjust back to normality, we've prepared a five-step reopening checklist that can help any venue prepare for a return to outdoor and indoor service. 

Tick off your social distancing checklist

One of the most significant restrictions will be the number of guests hospitality businesses will be able to accommodate. Keeping the one metre plus rule in mind, adjust your table plan so you can ensure sufficient social distancing.

If you use an advanced table management system, any adjustments to your floor plan will be reflected in your POS system, making life easier for hosts and waiting staff.

In addition to creating a socially-distanced floor plan, you’ll also need to implement the following measures:

  • Display clear signage detailing the measures you have in place
  • Create hand sanitizing stations in your venue for guests and staff alike
  • Provide staff with protective equipment, like gloves and masks
  • Ensure that all equipment and surfaces are frequently cleaned
  • Manage entry points to ensure you’re complying with capacity restrictions
  • Set up to take contactless payments

Click here for detailed advice on how to keep your staff and customers safe.

Offer online booking, and double-down on takeaway

Make sure you’re integrated with a popular takeaway app that’s connected to your POS system. This will put your menu in your customers’ pockets, and ensure that orders go straight to your kitchen - and never get lost. Crucially, indoor dining will initially be limited to table service only, so it will be wise to invest in a remote ordering solution.

With remote ordering platforms, customers can browse your menu, and order and pay for collection or delivery right from their mobile phones - either from their own homes, or at a bar or restaurant table. This not only gives customers greater flexibility, but it also limits physical interactions between your servers and sit-in diners.

To manage customer traffic, it’s also important to make table reservations as easy as possible for your customers no matter where they are. With reservation integrations like SimpleERB, you can manage online bookings through your website, straight into your POS system. Right now, we’re offering a FREE 30 day trial on SimpleERB!

Also, according to the latest government guidelines, you will need to take the names and contact details of customers, so make sure you have a tool like SimpleERB to gather this information in one place.

Activate a simple yet effective marketing plan

Reopening your cafe, bar or restaurant is big news. Make sure you shout about it!

If you’ve integrated with an email marketing service like MailChimp, use it to send an email to your customer database. Let them know when you plan to reopen, outline any offers you may be running, and what restrictions you’re setting in place.

It’s also important to make the most of social media as you begin to reopen. Use your social channels to let the world know you’re back, and make sure someone is on hand to reply to comments and messages. If you have the budget, you could even look into running Facebook ads in your local area, announcing your return as well as any offers and promotions you’re running.

Get the right staffing levels

At first, you’ll likely be restricted in the number of guests you’re able to accommodate. It certainly won’t feel like business as usual, so you’ll have to think carefully about staffing levels.

The key will be striking a balance between having enough members of staff on-site to keep things running smoothly while remaining profitable. Put together a skeleton crew that you think will be sufficient for handling a limited number of covers, and be sure to have staff members on call. Meanwhile, make sure all returning staff have received sufficient training on social distancing measures and hygiene practices.

Manage your stock and refine your menu

If you’re opening after a long period of closure, a stocktake will more than likely be at the top of your priority list.

With a smart stock control system, you can track inventory right down to the ingredient level, ensuring that you have everything you need to reopen seamlessly. Be sure, too, to create automated stock alerts so you’re not sat with cashflow tied up in stock.

When operating with limited capacity, it makes sense to slim down your menu. You’ll likely be operating with fewer kitchen staff than usual, so make it easier for everyone with a smaller, more-manageable menu.

Using your Epos Now system, dig out your historical sales reports to identify your best-sellers and high-margin items, and revamp your menu to maximise profitability.

For more information on the developing COVID-19 situation and its impact on businesses, as well as for access to useful resources, please visit our dedicated page here.