The fourth wave of covid-19 has presented yet another slew of challenges for food and beverage business owners. 

Christmas sales have been hampered by the huge number of customers and staff that are being required to isolate due to the virus. Many more patrons are also choosing to stay at home during the run up to Christmas in the hope that they will be able to celebrate with their families on the day.

Worse still, there is a huge degree of uncertainty surrounding the coming few months. It’s possible that we will see new covid restrictions during January – March 2022 and continued economic struggles. 

Naturally, it’s a trying time for F&B business owners, but every cloud truly does have a silver lining. Business downtime is a chance for entrepreneurs to improve and streamline their businesses, ensuring that they bounce back from these threats stronger than ever before. 

During these difficult times, we urge the F&B community to seize this opportunity and leverage this time in the most effective way possible. Now is the time to build clarity and certainty to keep yourself calm, confident and prepared. 

Time is one of the most precious resources in anyone’s life and business, so let’s take a look at how business owners can make the best of downtime and come back more in control, more organized and more efficient than ever.

Re-Examine Your Business Model

The world is changing at breakneck speed and it’s more important than ever for businesses to prioritise organisational agility. 

Covid-19 has caused many significant market shifts, but consumer habits, new technologies and economies are also changing at a much faster pace compared to the 20th century.

Think of downtime as golden time to consider how you can build greater agility into your business model. You can also engage in scenario planning to ensure that you are well prepared for a variety of outcomes. 

This process doesn’t have to be complex, but you need time and energy to assess your current situation and to do some careful thinking. It’s very difficult to do this when your business is busy, so make sure you leverage this current downtime to increase your organisational agility. 

Marketing & Sales 

What do you need to do to generate sales in your business? Which actions move the needle the most?

Take time to review your past marketing efforts and determine which ones generated the greatest ROI. It’s also important to assess the strategies that didn’t work so well, and consider what could have been done better.

It’s important to think about which actions you are going to take to start lead generation once restrictions ease. Is there a way that you can drum up a buzz around a new menu item or experience that will have customers desperate to book in as soon as they are able?

Remember that with social media marketing, it can often take 90 days or longer to gain any real traction, so don’t wait to start creating a hype around your cafe or restaurant. 

You should also take time to clearly define your sales process and targets. Then, work backwards to understand the marketing and sales actions that are required to achieve these targets. 

Operational Efficiency 

Downtime is a fantastic opportunity to review and refine your operations. You can use existing staff time to create more efficient operations, and to build more autonomy into your business so that you are able to take a step back. 

Involving your staff in this process will help to boost their morale during this difficult time. It will give them the sense of being part of a team and increase their confidence and commitment. This is very beneficial in terms of staff retention and it’s also an opportunity for you to assess their skills, which will inform future promotions and team restructuring. Finally, involving your staff will enable you to build clarity into every level of your business, permitting greater control and agility. 

Clearly defined, efficient and autonomous operations are the key to business success, so be sure to prioritise this during business downtime.

Review Business Costs 

As a business owner it’s important to be on the lookout for areas to save money without compromising on quality. However, it can be difficult to prioritise this during busy times of year and so downtime is an ideal opportunity to review your spending.

As a F&B business owner, you should consider…

  • Reviewing and systemising recipe costs 
  • Improving ordering systems to avoid over- or under-ordering
  • Looking at ways to reduce food wastage 
  • Revising menus and portion sizes 

After reviewing your sales and marketing plans, you can also take a look at your premises needs and utilisation. Is there a certain space that you could repurpose for greater efficiency? Are you leasing a piece of equipment which is hardly used? 

Once restrictions are lifted, these changes will bring ample financial benefits and allow you to immediately improve your profitability.

Take Time Off 

Last but not least, F&B business owners are physically and emotionally exhausted. Time off is absolutely necessary for physical, mental and financial health, and what better time of the year than the festive season to relax and enjoy time with your loved ones?

As a business owner, you are allowed to take time off and enjoy life outside of work. In fact, stepping away from your business for a little while is highly beneficial in both a professional and personal sense. It’s important to rest, recharge and re-energise yourself for the year ahead, so use this quiet time to switch off and focus on yourself. 

Stay Optimistic

Although it may feel as if certainty is in short supply right now, we know that things are likely to improve after March 2022, as restrictions and the warmer weather result in a drop in cases. Therefore, now is not the time to worry and waste – it’s time to give yourself a much needed break and then plan how to bring clarity and efficiency to your business. As always, Gains will be here to support you every step of the way.