In this blog, we look into the things you can do to get ahead and best prepare yourself for reopening day.
Sign of the times
It goes without saying that this is a difficult time for any hospitality operator. In fact, it is no doubt the most challenging period experienced by the sector — even for those who have lived and breathed hospitality for decades.
After all, when else have you had to deal with being forced to shut once again, after a year of lockdowns, restrictions and panic?
It would be easy to feel overwhelmed, but it’s crucial to stay positive during these difficult winter months. And whilst you might have been taken out of hospitality for the time being, they can’t take the hospitality out of you. So, once you’ve baked a banana bread or two, it’s time to look to the future. What better way to use this lockdown than to think about ways in which you can improve your business model once it is safe to reopen? You’ll thank us later.
1. Keep staff morale high
As you’ll know, you won’t be the only person in your team affected by the pandemic. You might be in charge of running the operation, but your employees are probably in exactly the same position as you: stuck at home, and worried about what the future holds for both themselves and your business.
That’s why doing a little to keep staff morale strong won’t go unnoticed. Yes, you aren’t interacting with your staff on a daily basis as you usually would, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out of your way to make them feel special and appreciated.
Not only will this boost their spirits in difficult times, but it’ll mean that all of your team are raring to go and have the right attitude when it comes to reopening.
If you have the time, organise a weekly meeting — whether to discuss work-related matters, or even just to host a catch up or the occasional virtual quiz. Likewise, touch base with your staff members individually as much as you can, and let them know you are there for them. At Stint, we end the week with both a company wide catch up and a drink at ‘The Isolation Arms’ amongst our smaller teams. These small things really do go a long way.
2. Upgrade your tech
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s the ability to adapt the way we operate — and in a timely fashion. Technology was key for enabling many hospitality businesses to open their doors once again last summer, and helped operations run smoothly. So, use this extra time on your hands to make sure you have the best and most efficient equipment on hand to make your — and your team’s — life as easy as possible when you reopen.
If you haven’t already, consider investing in technology that enables customers to access menus via a QR code, and order and pay via their phones. Not only will this reduce the number of menus you have to produce (one per customer is the norm these days to minimise risk of germs spreading), but it will also help you to serve customers faster.
According to Lumina, it takes an average of 12 to 17 minutes for a customer to finish a meal and pay the bill. Using a mobile system can therefore help you reduce these delays, and serve more customers without putting added pressure on your staff and slowing table turnover — all in a Covid-safe manner.
Another benefit of using this kind of technology is that it allows you to offer your customers changing menus to reflect availability, ensuring that they won’t be left disappointed by being told that what they want is out of stock. Similarly, it makes it possible for you to present different menus at different times of the day, enabling you to tailor to different service sessions and alter price points accordingly.
3. Boost your online presence
Lockdown gives you the opportunity to spread the word about your business. Potential customers will miss good food and drink as much as you miss them, so what better time to tempt them that you have something worth checking out?
The easiest (and cheapest) way of doing this is by using social media to reach a new audience, whilst also reminding loyal customers of your presence. Social media advertising might seem daunting, but it really isn’t too difficult — all you have to do is be yourself, and your authenticity will shine through!
Try to produce at least one piece of content per day. Whether it’s repackaged footage from a time you were open, or an entirely new piece of content — it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to sing or dance (although you can if you’d like to), simple content is often the most effective. Here are some ideas for things you could do to boost your online presence:
- Behind the scenes photos/videos
- Introduce yourself and members of your team
- Retell the story of your hospitality business and how it came to be
- Show off your best food/drink and explain what it is
- Document or film how you make your products
Hopefully this serves as inspiration for you but, if you’re still struggling, we’ve got your back! We’re passionate about seeing independent businesses succeed — so much so that our social marketing team has pledged to give all independent restaurants a free consultation explaining how you can maximise growth and prepare for opening day via social media. If this is an offer that appeals to you, please DM us on either our Instagram @stinthospitality or Twitter @StintUK.
4. Get on top of any odd-jobs
Think back to this time last year — when Corona was nothing more than a beer — and picture your average day at work. No doubt there were always things on your to-do list that you’d start the day aiming to do, but, before you knew it, the day had run away, leaving you no further down the list than when you started. We’ve all been there.
The next few months are the perfect opportunity to get through all these tasks, from sorting out your tax returns to properly organising any leftover paperwork.
Make a list of all those things you’ve been meaning to do, but don’t forget the importance of rest either. You’ll need all the energy you can muster when it’s time to re-open, so some R&R isn’t necessarily time wasted.
5. Evaluate how you staff
You don’t need us to tell you that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on trade, with hospitality businesses having been dealt a particularly bad hand. It’s therefore never been more important to ensure that you’re able to operate as efficiently as possible to maximise your operating profit when you’re able to open your doors to your customers once again.
A key area to address is staffing. Are you staffing as efficiently as you could be? This lockdown is the perfect time to reassess the way you staff, with a little bit of help from us. But first, let’s clarify what being correctly staffed actually means.
In practise, being correctly staffed means having the right number of people working at every hour of the day. But this is far harder to achieve than it sounds. You’ll need more hands when things are busy at peak times, such as during lunch or dinner, than you will when trade is quiet. But, as you’ll know, the hours your staff understandably want to work don’t match up with the spikes in trade that often only last between 2-3 hours.
That’s where we come in. With Stint, you’re able to do something you’ve never been able to do before: match your supply of labour perfectly to customer demand. That’s because we can call on a workforce of students who are not only available but prefer to work in short, 2-3 hour shifts — or Stints, as we call them. That means that our model allows you to cut shifts into hours and staff as efficiently as physically possible for every different phase of the day.
This means that you can have the right number of staff at peak, without having too many unnecessary staff when things are quiet; maximising customer service, whilst keeping your wage bill tight.
Once again, we aren’t making empty promises — we have the data to show that our model really does work for hospitality operators. For example, Rola Wala, a restaurant in Leeds, integrated with Stint and saw their labour percentage reduce from 31% to 27%, which equated to an operating profit increase of £12k over a year.Likewise, Urban Tandoor, a restaurant in Bristol, integrated with Stint back in October and saw their labour percentage fall from 40% to 34%, as well as an annualised increase in operating profit of 85%.
But — and this really is the best bit — if you still don’t believe us, we’re willing to show you FOR FREE. We’re offering businesses the chance to trial our product for a month, including 4 weeks of free staffing.
We absolutely love the high street, and so it has hurt to watch some of our favourite hospitality businesses struggle over the last year. We are determined to help the industry find its feet again after the chaos of the pandemic, and what better way to help hospitality bounce back than by offering businesses a month of our (not so little) secret for free! We’re also pretty confident that once you use Stint you won’t be able to go back to your old, less efficient staffing rotor — but that’s up to you to decide…
Spaces are filling up fast — only a third of the 150 we offered are still available — so make sure to claim your spot now to avoid missing out! If you’d just like to hear more about this very special offer, reach out to a member of our team.