The Covid pandemic doesn’t seem to come to an end. Every time there is a reduction in the number of cases or hopes of things returning to normal, another wave comes up and makes the situation worse than before. The country’s vaccination rate was once the envy of the world and restrictions were lifted in the spring, well ahead of many other nations. However, with 50 percent of the population vaccinated and the Delta variant of Covid looming closely, the situation seems dire once again.
The first and the second wave affected businesses around the world, especially the restaurants. Most of them were forced to shut down due to loss of sales, loss of manpower, and high operating costs. The country managed to deal with the first two waves. But are restaurants really prepared for the inevitable third wave of Covid-19?
The months ahead!
Some speculated that the Covid-19 virus will get weakened during the summer while others laid their hopes on the massive vaccination drives conducted throughout the country. However, none of these have seemed to give any confidence with respect to the ending of the pandemic. In fact, most Americans are now looking ahead to the colder weather and schools re-opening with more hesitancy, fear and frustration.
For businesses, this period is going to be even more challenging, considering that they have still not been able to resolve the hiring crisis which has taken quite a toll on sales, operations, and survival. With another Covid wave gearing up along the same time frame that unemployment benefits are about to end, it could become a nightmare for restaurants as well as people who might seek employment in the restaurant industry. In the first two waves, technology was able to provide some relief as digital transformation of restaurants helped in managing operations of new consumer demand including drive-throughs, contactless payment, and online ordering.
The situation might not be completely favorable this time around. Even if the restaurants keep themselves prepared, there is a lot of uncertainty in the way the coming months might unfold. Will the ending of the unemployment benefits solve the manpower issue? Can another change in consumer demand be expected? It is too early to have any insight but there are some ways in which restaurants can try to prepare themselves for the upcoming months.
How to prepare your restaurant for a third wave of covid
As a restaurant operator, you need to understand the most important aspects of your business which have to be focused on in order to prepare for the next wave of Covid. Employee and guest health tops the priority list, followed by food safety and guest retention. These three aspects will affect the survival of your restaurant in the coming months.
Various surveys and reports have shown that during the first two waves, restaurants that focused on health monitoring, food safety, and guest retention were able to survive and perform well. This included undergoing complete or partial digital transformation and innovating strategies to cater to the changing consumer demand. Technology had given a significant leverage to restaurants to ensure seamless operations despite the applicable Covid restrictions.
The following are some of the ways in which your restaurant can be prepared for the third wave of Covid.
Monitor employee and guest health
With 50% of the US population vaccinated, one cannot be too certain of the health of employees and guests. Using paper forms to track health across locations can be a hassle and real time reporting is impossible with this approach. It is recommended to use a digital Health Check solution to monitor the health of your employees based on their shifts. The solution can also be used to track the health of guests. Managers can easily get an overview of health status at their restaurants and take the necessary steps to resolve any identified health issue. Additionally, you should also ensure that your employees have been vaccinated twice to ensure a Covid-free environment.
Do not compromise with food safety
As most restaurants struggle with manpower, there have been instances when daily inspections and food safety checks are missed. Do not take such risks, especially when it concerns the safety of your guests. Even without the pandemic, food safety should always be emphasized in restaurants. You should consider implementing a digital food safety system which would automate daily tasks, allow employees to record temperatures digitally, track corrective actions, and get an instant overview of food safety compliance at their restaurant. Even with few staff, you can ensure food safety as the digital solution helps to make the team really efficient.
Review your restaurant’s performance during the previous wave
This is the most important measure that you can take to prepare your restaurant. Review your restaurant’s performance during the previous waves and evaluate the shortcomings. Identify the things which helped in ensuring daily sales and operations. You should also take a look at your team strength during those months and calculate the overall productivity. By analyzing these metrics together, you should be able to identify the areas that you need to focus on for the next wave. For example, if you had undertaken digital transformation of your restaurant and it helped you survive, then try to incorporate additional technologies like guest recovery solutions, guest loyalty programs, and AR based menu. Remember, you need to think one step ahead to stay in the game.
Talk to your team
If you are not in constant discussion with your team, your restaurant may already be at a huge risk of failure in the coming months. By talking to your team, you will get an overview of their sentiments, identify key issues affecting productivity, understand the personal challenges of employees and the impact it has on their performance, and evaluating the overall morale of the team. Implementing employee engagement programs would be a good start so that you can keep your employees motivated. Also, make it a daily agenda to address some of the concerns of your employees and help them focus on their work better.
Proactively identify consumer demand
Consumer demand has changed significantly during the previous Covid waves and restaurants had to quickly adapt to the changing behavior in order to sustain sales. The recent times have shown us that it is better to have proactive approach towards consumer demand because it allows you to get a leverage against the competition. Even though some changes require a complete transformation of the existing processes, you should consider this an investment. Innovations in technology will eventually make some of the prevalent changes like contactless payment, digital operations management, and mobile ordering, the new normal.
Invest in technology (if you haven’t done it yet)
Technology has been instrumental in helping restaurants survive the pandemic and also be prepared for further challenges. If your restaurant hasn’t really incorporated technology into daily operations, sales, performance management, or guest retention, then you need to do it right now.
Not only will this help your restaurant be prepared for the upcoming challenges, but also provide better visibility, compliance, efficiency, and profitability. To know more about empowering your restaurant with the right technology, contact us for a FREE consultation today!