6 Must-dos For a Food & Beverage Business to Buffer Against Coronavirus
By now, we all have heard of the novel coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 and the fast rate at which it spread from a small meat market in Wuhan to over 28 countries* (*at the time writing this article). Although primarily affecting human health, the virus has also had an impact on global economies, businesses, employment etc.
Some of the hardest hit industries are Travel, Tourism, Manufacturing and Hospitality. While much of the international coverage about the virus has focused on its negative impact, local news and blogs have seen an abundance of positive and inspiring tales featuring human resilience, selflessness, volunteerism and care for one another.
In this article, we look into six ways restaurants, cafes and bars can implement, to help cushion themselves from the effects of Covid-19.
1. Keep calm and carry on
When an unexpected or unplanned event occurs, our human fight-or-flight response kicks in. For an unseen and as-yet-largely-unknown enemy such as this Coronavirus, the most logical reaction is panic. However, as we have all experienced, there isn’t any upside to panic. Hence, if you are a restaurant or a cafe owner, the best thing you can do is breathe and relax.
2. Double down on disinfectants
You would already be meeting the highest level of hygiene and cleanliness standard at your outlet. However, a side-effect of Covid-19 is the heightened perception of the general public. Hence, it would be a good idea to increase the cleaning routines at your establishment. If you have a daily/weekly full clean contract with an external service provider, double up their visits.
3. Offer complimentary hand sanitizers…..or a shot of whisky!
Visibly placed complimentary hand sanitizers would go a long way to allay your customers’ fears. Furthermore, and this has not been scientifically proven beyond doubt, but it is said that alcohol is effective in fighting a virus. So, a free liquor shot could help keep patrons at your outlet for a longer period of time!
4. Train and re-train
A day-in-the-life of a restaurant/bar/café is, to put it mildly, hectic. There is hardly any time for a breather or planning from the start of the day to set-up to ordering to prep to serve and then closing.
Even though this coronavirus brings with it, an economic downturn and unfortunately, less customers and less sales, it also brings an opportunity to strategize and train your staff. It gives you the time to listen to staff feedback, to trial new food or beverage concepts and become ready when things, as they inevitably will, pick up again.
5. Food delivery or delivery apps
Speaking of strategizing, this downtime could also be a perfect opportunity to build up your online business. Spruce up the website, the online reservation system and if it is safe to do so, utilize your staff for home deliveries and observe and improve the freshness and presentation on home delivered food.
Alternately, you could look into partnering up with a delivery app such as UberEats, Deliveroo etc. Before signing up with a delivery app, do consider the costs and benefits associated with it i.e. commissions they charge, how quickly can your food be delivered to your customer, will it affect the presentation of your food etc.
6. Connect directly with your repeat customers
As you very well know, your repeat customers are your biggest fans and your primary source of word-of-mouth publicity. Hence, use the downtime to connect with them directly. Depending on the confidentiality laws of your country, call your customers or contact them via social media and enquire on how they are keeping, perhaps suggest some make-at-home recipes or even create online groups of like-minded customers and swap food and drink ideas.
Growth and decline, profit and loss are all part and parcel of a business. Certainly, losses and declines due to public health issues such as the Coronavirus may have a long-term impact but it is worth remembering that fundamentally, humans need food, drinks and entertainment. So take heart and remain vigilant and as a very famous Chinese cheer goes “jiāyóu”.