Following the government’s publication of the roadmap out of our third lockdown, time is quickly running out for hospitality businesses to prepare for re-opening. Pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants with outdoor service are expecting to be able to begin trading again from the 12th of April, while the indoor hospitality sector will be able to kick off again from the 17th of May – should everything go to plan!

While this is an exciting prospect for businesses who have been forced to close throughout the pandemic – the race to get all necessary measures in place can feel quite daunting. But don’t worry – we have some top tips to help ensure your hospitality business is ready for the big day!

Work out how many customers you can safely accommodate

When the hospitality sector is finally able to re-open, ensuring that your business is compliant with all COVID-secure guidelines, and making your customers feel safe, will be key. One of the easiest ways to do this is to work out how many customers your venue will be able to accommodate safely once the necessary restrictions have been lifted.

It may be necessary to adjust your seating plan with the one metre plus distancing rule in mind. This may impact how many customers you can expect to serve at any given point.

Communication is key

Implementing, and making customers aware of your COVID-secure measures such as hand sanitising stations, changes to entry and exit points and contactless payments. Clear signage displayed in clear view around your venue will be essential as well as the provision of personal protective equipment for your staff and regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment.

Keeping in touch with your customers on the run-up to opening day can also help to get across any important messages about COVID measures and any other important details. If you have an email subscription system in place, sending out emails to update and inform your customers can really help to make the big re-opening that bit smoother.

Effectively managing your social media accounts will also be useful in keeping your customers informed about all of your opening day updates and changes to service.

Don’t scrap takeaway options!

When your business is finally allowed to open its doors to serve customers once again, it is likely that you will still be unable to serve as many customers as you were before. Limits to the number of people inside your restaurant and the amount of time a party can stay may mean that you aren’t taking in quite as much revenue as you were before the pandemic.

Offering takeaway service has been a saving grace for many hospitality businesses throughout the pandemic and it could continue to be helpful as we transition out of lockdown. Offering click and collect services and making your menus easily accessible online will help to expand your potential business during this time.

Prepare your staff

One of the most important factors to consider when preparing to re-open your business is ensuring that your staff are fully prepared and are made aware of all the measures in place. Training will likely be needed to ensure that things run smoothly – from monitoring customer levels and changes to entry and exit points to personal protective equipment and cleaning and sanitisation procedures.

Making changes to staffing levels will likely also be required as customer levels fall below what you might be used to and the need for other positions – such as entry management – become more important. Finding the right balance to make sure you have enough staff on hand – and people on call should you need more hands – will be essential.