With lockdown looking to be relaxed for our industry around July in some way, we thought we’d look at ways businesses can adapt to bounce back and safeguard your business for life after lockdown with COVID-19.
Things are obviously not going to return to how they were previously and many of us are worried, not only about our business during the lockdown, but more importantly when the lockdown ends, what can we do to adapt to survive.
During Lockdown . . .
One of the most important things is to take care of yourself, you need to be in the right mindset to get back to business. It is very easy to concentrate on the negative and you can easily fall down a rabbit hole of negativity.
Think positively (this will end), get some rest, get enough sleep, take daily exercise, eat well, speak to friends and family that you don’t often get the chance to, enjoy the garden, and finally dedicate a few hours to concentrate on the business but don’t allow it to take over every waking moment.
Get you staff trained up. There are some great free or cheap resources online (such as CPL training) that will allow all of your staff to complete their food safety certificates, undergo a customer service course or learn social media marketing skills to help promote the business.
Talk to competitors, business leaders and friends and family to gauge how they will be returning to the new normal life. This will help you adjust your business plan to suit how people will be shopping.
Look after your staff and your suppliers if you can, they are your biggest asset and you will need them to return to normal business for life after lockdown.
Ensure you are utilising the help that is out there. Below is a check list of the types of help that is available to small businesses
- Government backed CBIL’s loans through banks
- Government backed bounce back loans
- Government Staff Retention scheme to furlough staff
- Small Business rates grants
- VAT and Corporation Tax wait to pay
- Power to change – has launched a £12 million of emergency support for small businesses
- Emergency business resilience support service
- Funding Circle – Government backed CBIL’s
Utilise the Government COVID help website that is constantly updated with all the schemes to help you now and for life after lockdown.
Whilst it could still be a few weeks / months before you can safely re open to the public, your public are still there and they’re missing your product.
If you haven’t already, get on social media and if anything over communicate with your customers. The more information you are able to give them the better. Show them your products, menus, what you’re doing in lockdown. Ask questions and get people to get involved, this tricks the algorithm into thinking you’re getting more engagement and will result in higher ratings.
However try not to fall down a Twitter rabbit hole. Limit the time you spend on social media. Plan your social media posts for the week. There are some great apps such as Hootsuite that will allow you to schedule up to 30 free posts across the full range of social media.
Follow key people that will give you access to some great resources: Caterer, UK Hospitality, Jonathan Downy, Peninsula, Cafe, Boughtons Coffee House, John Richardson, Kaffeine
Even when we are able to open again; social distancing is something that will be in place for the foreseeable future. Now is the perfect time to create an online platform that you could start making use of straight away that will also benefit your business for life after lockdown.
Whether it is an ordering portal to minimise contact time with customers or a full web shop for home delivery or curbside and in store collection; there are stacks of free or cheap options available. WooCommerce, Wix, Shopify, Go Daddy & WordPress are a few options, and with a little online training you can very easily set up an e-commerce site. A little effort now could really help with future sales and allow a smooth transition to the new normal.
As cash has already become an almost forgotten commodity, other ways of paying such as cards, Apple pay, Paypal are all becoming the new normal. A pre order and online payment system will reduce the cash contact and speed up your workflow. You can even allocate specific time slots for curbside collection, that will help with social distancing measures.
Need some help? Riley & Thomas are able to supply a full web design service.
After Lockdown . . .
As we have said; social distancing is something that will be in place for the foreseeable future. Even without it people are going to be wary of returning to society until a vaccine is widely available. Therefore you have to plan how your business needs to be to continue in life after lockdown.
We’ve asked some industry leaders their predictions of what might happen in life after lockdown.
- International tourism in the UK will be non-existent. This is estimated at £24 billion a year. However the UK tourism industry abroad which is estimated at £23 billion a year, will still be a source of revenue that needs to be tapped.
- As with previous recessions and periods of economic problems: value for money and quality will be paramount in people’s spending. You need to ensure that what you offer is as attractive as it can be.
- Coffee has always been considered an affordable luxury, even during tough economic times, which is great news for our industry. As things begin to return to normal coffee is one of the things that people will instantly take back up. So it’s worth being ready to take your share. Unfortunately the higher end restaurant offering will be the hardest hit, so that sector will need to diversify and alter their offering to reflect this.
- As some of the bigger high street chains have been lost, and unfortunately some of the small businesses too; competition is going to be less so your share of the market could be bigger if approached correctly.
- More people will continue to work from home, as it has proven so successful. This means that neighbourhood businesses are possibly going to fare better than city centre businesses as people will still want to take breaks and grab a coffee/lunch.
- People will want to support local independent businesses, having a local sustainable ethos will encourage people to come to you. Using local suppliers does a multitude of good things from lower food miles to stimulating growth in your community.
- Reusable cups that we have spent two years promoting will be out of the window for the time being, so you will need to look at environmentally friendly take away containers for everything.
As the process will probably be gradual, you may be able to reintroduce your business in different guises at different stages for life after lockdown.
Helping to provide additional advice for retailers that are planning to reopen, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently released a set of guidance.