Plan B for when the next COVID lockdown hits your cafe or restaurant

As COVID controls and vaccination helps business return to some type of normal operations, government policy in Australia and New Zealand now seems to be using selective lock-downs to control spot fires and outbreaks.

Your Lockdown Plan B needs to be permanently at hand, so you can move within hours to protect your business, and alert customers, staff and suppliers. Here’s a bunch of areas where you need to have emails, social posts and communication at the ready – almost like a putting the fire drill into action…

  • Alert your customers – through email, text message, social media posts and signs on the window. Hopefully you’ve been steadily building your email and SMS list (here are 10 ways to do that quickly). Spend some money to boost your social media posts in the local area, so you make a greater impact. Use Canva to design catchy signs – look sharp and professional.
  • Alert staff about roster changes and different work needs – through group email, texting, their private social media group and the messaging service. Stand down those not needed, and understand your rights in this situation.
  • Contact function & event bookings, if there are restrictions on group size or service style. Your event contract should now allow for rescheduling and deposit arrangements in the event of health-related restrictions.
  • Increase delivery and takeaway – expanding the services you are already using.
  • Simplify the menu and reduce stock – most operators are now much savvier with their numbers and cost of goods. Use your digital system or menu app to slim down the offer. Is there equipment you’ve delayed purchasing that will be part of your backup plans? Eg fridges and freezers. If equipment needs to be shut down, follow the correct procedures.
  • Alert suppliers about reduced needs and hours of operation.
  • Alert finance companies about what’s happening, You may not be delaying payments, but keeping them in the loop increases trust in case you do need to negotiate.
  • Alert landlords – they’ve been through the wars in 2020, and although they don’t love the idea of rent reductions, your regular communication can prepare them for possible concessions.
  • Build your diversification – it’s not an instant change, but the more you can diversify sales and add multiple income streams, the stronger you will be. Here’s a great list of options.
  • Prepare reopening promotions – it’s called Disaster Recovery Marketing, and there are lots of options using the communication channels you’ve developed. Move quickly and sound positive.
  • Strengthen your administration system – many operators have a new appreciation for working from home. Is your PC or Mac up to date, with a good backup for data? Is it time for a larger screen or a better office layout? Do you have POS integrated with bookkeeping, rosters and payroll?
  • Encourage COVID vaccinations for everyone – led by the owners and managers! Show staff how to book for their ‘jab’ and arrange for time off. Maybe even a bonus for doing it?

Fingers crossed this remains theory! 🤞