5 Ideas to boost your hospitality business during the COVID-19 outbreak

By Phil Scoble

Introduction

These are scary times indeed for the hospitality and leisure sectors after the Government warned the public to avoid restaurants, pubs and cafes. 

The industry is going through a huge upheaval – but with some inventiveness perhaps you can protect your business from the worst effects. 

Below we outline a few ideas that we’ve seen businesses using to change how you do things and keep some money coming in. We hope these ideas will inspire you to find a way forward, despite the unprecedented times we’re living through.

Firstly, look after your staff and look after yourself: If you or your staff begin to exhibit symptoms, follow the Government advice.

1: Start a takeaway or meal delivery service

The Government has announced a relaxation of regulations, meaning takeaway or meal delivery could be a very quick win for many businesses struggling to continue under the current climate. 

We’d advise getting some hot-holding equipment such as hot serveries or bain maries to reduce the pressure on your cookline. 

If you produce pizzas then having a hot holding bag setup can also help. 

Some pubs are also using their connections with local suppliers to sell drink, beer, snacks and anything else their customers need and deliver it to them –  what could you sell? 

2: Sign up to an app/ online service to boost your marketing

If you are going to sell takeaway food, we’d also advise leveraging the marketing heft of the new wave of online/app ordering services – signing up is easy if they operate in your area: 

Deliveroo: https://restaurants.deliveroo.com/en-gb/ 

Uber Eats: https://www.ubereats.com/restaurant/en-GB/signup

Just Eat:  https://restaurants.just-eat.co.uk 

3: Connect with your community 

We’ve seen a lot of restaurants, takeaways and pubs combine new delivery services with helping those in need. If there are people self-isolating in your  community, could you deliver food and a few essentials to their door? 

We’ve seen this happen all over the country, advertised through local facebook pages and twitter feeds. It is fantastic for your community and for those looking for help at the most difficult time, but is ALSO very good for your business. Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help others. 

4: Set up a voucher scheme

Another interesting idea a few businesses are using is a voucher scheme against future purchases – check out this one in Manchester:

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/food-drink-news/buy-voucher-campaign-launched-help-17937928  

This does a few things: It connects you with your customers, gives you cash in the short term, and guarantees they will return, if only to get their money’s worth! Get together with businesses around you to build awareness and to build a support network.

5: Create a ready-meals business

If you are doing takeaway, you could also be doing ready meals. 

How do you do this? With a vacuum packing machine. 

By vac packing you can increase the shelf-life of cooked foods by up to two weeks. If you can do this with some of your most popular dishes, you can sell them as ready meals, perfect for those who love a professionally cooked meal, but can’t leave their home! 

If you want to run this sort of operation, we’d recommend picking out a vacuum packing machine, as we previously mentioned, but also a blast chiller. This is because you will need to chill the food before vacuum packing it. Harmful bacteria will grow in the food if you vac pack it warm, and a blast chiller quickly brings down food temperature without damaging the food. 

As with all food production, it’s important you have a record of where you got your food from, before you sell it. 

Conclusion

So there you have it – five things you can be doing right now to boost your business in the most difficult of times. 

Let us know what you try and how it works for you. Up and down the country businesses are improvising and changing to meet the challenges of this crisis head on. We’d love to hear what you try and how it works for you…

For more information on the outbreak and what you can do as a business owner, here are some information links from the Government: 

Symptoms and what to do about them: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Advice for different sectors: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Advice and help for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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