Make the restaurant work - Part II

Last week, we shared some of the pointers on how the hospitality industry ought to cope post Covid-19. We bring you the last part of how this can be achieved.
Before you re-open your property, always dovetail into serving the needs of your target audience. Our aim is to find a broader demographic coupled with the added task of upholding stringent hygiene standards and the implementation of new standard operating procedures.
The standards with the pandemic situation in mind include: cleaning the front of house, kitchen, restrooms and general area that clients constantly touch; how food is handled and rotated; how guests are greeted and seated; order flow and how orders move from the guest to the server and to the kitchen; training standards and re-training the teams on product knowledge. Consider the technology and software systems that need to be updated to keep up with contactless capabilities.
With most businesses reinventing online ordering and improving technological presence, people rapidly acquired skills to take advantage of these features and feel comfortable with online ordering, virtual cook-a-longs and even happy hours.

In order for your business to rebound and prosper in these unpredictable times, employ revolutionary solutions. These at first may seem unpalatable but if successful will prove to be a bountiful yield. This entails drawing customers from your competition and considering the relatively small market we have in Kampala compared to other cities. This should not be challenging.

Think about offering more value for money or try and differentiate your product compared to the competition. Research on what they are offering and see if you can come up with a better mousetrap within the same value and monetary parameters.

How are they advertising? Pay a visit to their locations and discover what their consumers like or dislike about them after which you can tweak your own business practices based on what you have discovered.
With the above in mind, evaluate:
What demographics have changed in your segment/locality?
Who can be your new target audience and maintaining past audience?
Will you change the menu considering the consumer changes?
What will be your new price point and value propositions?
Many new businesses are matched to succeed in economically challenging markets. However, even if your business is not suited to a market slowdown, you may be able to modify your value proposition to conform to the realities of the market.

During the pandemic, the home delivery model has kept businesses sustainable. The home delivery service will continue to be heavily relied on for the future. Therefore, add home delivery to your business model if you previously did not have it. For example, Café Javas have capitalised on this model with resounding success.

Prior to the Covid-19 era, they had 50 delivery bikes and today they are about 200. When survival becomes an immediate goal, products that help businesses weather near-term economic storms become especially attractive.

Also, your initial market study findings would have defined your product offering and the price point that was based on the demographics and surrounding demand generators. Ask yourself, is your price point correct and what changes need to be made?
With business closing, team camaraderie and cohesion has placed more people out. For the businesses that survive, there will be more talent available in the market which will enable you to have the ability to recruit the ‘A’ team you have always longed for.

Notwithstanding, before considering replacing your existing team, one thing to note is that in terms of war and tragedy ‘great war tales create a stronger and loyal team’. Misfortune and calamity tends to create greater team work and closeness among work mates.

It has been proven that the more arduous your collective journey, the stronger your team’s cohesion. Make the most of the situation and bring the team together. Work as a unit to overcome the situation and create targets to be met with rewards for both the business and the team members over the coming months. Constantly speak about success and the future.
In the past, restaurants have had a high staff turnover rate. It can sometimes feel like wasted work to train your restaurant staff.

The most important element you can add to your business is to ensure consistent delivery of a high-quality guest experience by constantly reviewing and re-training your team to the specific standards of your brand.
Through good staff training and process enforcement you can reduce some of the inevitable problems.

Make your restaurant team feel as though they are part of a learning culture and give them opportunities for growth.
Learn to operate lean
Review your productivity reports and see who your high achievers are. Invest in your top talent and get them focused on sales, as well as cross-trained to help in other areas. Furloughing several employees at one time is bound to have a demoralising effect on your staff, and all restaurants are only as good as the staff who serve your clients.

However, for the survival of the business, which includes the livelihood of many people, there may be some difficult decisions to be made.

For the first few months, business levels will not be what they were. You may need to adjust your hours of operation and even close a couple of days per week. If Sundays and Mondays are slow, consider closing and running a five-day operation. From your market study, if lunch trade will potentially be slow, look to multiskilling the team and reduce certain positions.

However, be wary of cutting back too much staff at the risk of sacrificing customer service. Treat it like a new restaurant and don’t make any sweeping changes to your staffing schedule until you see patterns arise as businesses, tourism and travel return.