“Thriving not diving” should be the new mantra for hospitality businesses as they look ahead to the relaxing of the UK lockdown rules when customers flock back to restaurants and cafes to taste their regained freedom. Iain High, CEO of Anderson Zaks (www.andersonzaks.com), looks at how businesses can prepare to welcome customers back and thrive within the new guidelines.
The recent global disruption has been a bleak time for many businesses, in particular the hospitality and retail sectors. However, many experts, not just statisticians and economists, are forecasting a demand for travel, eating out and entertainment not seen since after the last two world wars.
With the easing of the UK lockdown measures and opening dates being announced, restaurants, pubs and cafes are preparing for a forecasted pent-up demand on a par with the ‘Roaring Twenties’ and post second world war boom.
BOUNCING BACK INTO BUSINESS
Keen to bounce back from what has been a difficult time for hospitality venues, businesses are looking for ways to increase footfall and sales and welcome customers back.They want to take advantage of the predicted customer freedoms that the new vaccine success promises, within social distancing guidelines. Many are looking for creative, new ways to reach customers with pop-up, drive thru’ and mobile stores, which means also think- ing practically about how they will serve customers and enable payment.
We can certainly expect social distancing measures to remain in place for a while, which means enabling customers to order food and drink from their table safely is a priority.We have also moved to a near cashless society, with encouragement of consumers to use a contactless card (evidenced also in the increased value allowed for contactless payments) changing behaviours further.
Both changes offer significant benefits for staff as well as customers, reducing the amount of contact and risk. Offering pay and order at the table can also help to reduce bill payment errors and streamline service offerings by removing queues at the counter.
WI-FI DROPPED OUT? NO PROBLEM
Fortunately there are new, handheld payment devices that can facilitate ordering and paying at the table, ideal for outside service areas or mobile stores. Even if the wi-fi connection drops out in the middle of a field, the latest devices can still process transactions, so you won’t miss a sale.The other great benefit is that as well as offering full menu management and till receipt printing, they can be connected directly to stock control systems.
Gone are the days of having to match a day’s takings at an event or separate service area outside with stock levels.With an integrated system it is all updated automatically, giving a much better handle on the business with accurate stock management and improved cash flow. Plus, you can even reconcile staff tips, since payments can be accounted for and matched to tables, which means happier staff all-round.
PREPARE TO BE DAZZLED
There is no doubt that the announcement in March last year to pause on normal life was a necessary action and a shock to us all. Coming to terms with a new way of life and living with a virus seemed a bleak future indeed. But with the successful discovery and rollout of a vaccine and the cautious relaxing of the lockdown measures, the light is at the end of the tunnel – and it’s going to be dazzling.
So as customers start hanging out their smart clothes and dusting off their festival boots, it’s time for busi- nesses in the hospitality sector to start planning too.There really is no time to waste.