3 takeaways from the “Operating a restaurant in the face of uncertainty” webcast

As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people home and some cities, states, and countries limit restaurant operations, the industry is facing unprecedented challenges. 
In our recent webcast, Shane Delia, Pat Nourse and Sven Almenning came together to share their thoughts and experiences on the impact of COVID-19 on their business and the industry; and provided advice to help operators navigate through the questions that they’re facing. Here are the key takeaways from this discussion:

Assess the situation – it’s changing every day

Be proactive and keep yourself informed. By getting an understanding of your cash position, your liabilities and forecasting, you will have better insight on how long your business could survive. Take the step of reaching out to your landlords and your suppliers to see what support they can offer you. The key is to be transparent with them.

If you have to switch to a delivery or takeaway model, see what could work for your business. Look at how customers’ behaviors are changing during this time and see if your business is able to cater to that so you can continue to generate revenue while you assess your books.  

Shane Delia of the Delia group says “I’m a father and don’t want to feed my kids restaurant food every day and I don’t have time to cook for them every day. I believe a lot of people are in that situation right now. So, we have identified an opportunity to provide “restaurant-cooked” home style meals. Everything is prepared by chefs with the restaurant flavours and they are delivered to your home, ready to cook or to heat up.”

“This isn’t the fight, the championship round is still to come, and you’ve got to be ready to go”

Stay connected

Across the world, people are facing an unprecedented situation as we come to terms with the “new normal.”  Let’s stop and consider that we are all in this together. It is important now more than ever to reach out, talk to each other and listen to others when we can.

For restaurants, good leadership and communication are fundamental during this time. Be open and honest with your employees and keep them informed as often and when you can. Shane believes that maintaining that company and staff culture is key when we all come out of this. “I think looking after your staff and making sure their mental health is right, making sure your culture within your business is maintained.”  

We are all going to need our staff and suppliers on the other side of this. “this isn’t the fight, the championship round is still to come, and you’ve got to be ready to go”, says Shane.

Not all businesses have the capacity to offer mental health support for their staff , however organisations such as Beyond Blue, R U OK? and Headspace are there to help those that need it.

Online training or up-skill programs such as the Ananas Academy are offering their courses for free during this time, so more hospitality workers can be ready when the market bounces back. They also help streamline team on-boarding and training for venues, so when they reopen, these tasks can be conducted easily and quickly.

“When we do come back, we’re going to come back big. So, having your business stripped back, cleaned, retooled and ready to go, there’s lots of things you can take advantage of. So, let’s all use this time as best as we can and come back stronger than ever.”

Be prepared

Sven Almenning – Managing Director of Speakeasy group has this advice. “The one thing I will say is that if you don’t have a good hospitality accountant already, go out and get one.” With stimulus packages available for businesses, it is important to understand what it means for your business and your employees before acting on them. “There’s a lot of free advice out here right now, don’t be afraid to reach out to people in the industry, don’t have a huge ego and be scared to ask for help. Asking for help right now is strength.” Make sure you have good people around you who can give you solid advice.

Pat Nourse – Creative Director Food and Wine Victoria believes that this pandemic has forced us to stop and think about doing things differently. “Stopping is something you never do in hospitality and it’s very unlikely that we are going back to business as usual.”

He echoes the sentiments of both Sven and Shane that if businesses are doing something different during the shutdown, don’t just limit it to the short term. Businesses must think long term and make sure they don’t just discard the money and energy invested in any projects during this time.

“When we do come back, we’re going to come back big. So, having your business stripped back, cleaned, retooled and ready to go, there’s lots of things you can take advantage of. So, let’s all use this time as best as we can and come back stronger than ever.”

Watch the full webcast

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