As we start to see the hospitality industry reopen, it’s imperative that you have a plan in place to navigate the tricky months ahead. In many ways, the hard work starts now!

Here are my top 5 priorities for you to consider

1.      Understand your Cash flow;

  • This without a doubt will be at the forefront of your mind, and I’m sure your accountant will have brought this up! (if not, find a new one!)
  • With government support coming to an end and no sight of any extension or new schemes, you will have to ensure you have robust and accurate forecasting, good procedures for capturing spend and invoicing and a good handle on your credit terms with suppliers. This is not the time for surprises!!
  • There is pent up desire in people to get out and enjoy our offerings but how long will this last? Once travel corridors open again, what will customer behaviour be? Make hay while you can and ensure you look at cash flow through to the 1st & 2nd quarters of next year. When all grants and furlough schemes have disappeared, and loans need to be repaid, Have you sufficiently provided for these traditionally leaner periods? Perhaps now is the time to look for gap finance to cover this period

2.      Engage your team;

  •    As you start to bring your workforce back you may have a few considerations. Some employees will be concerned about their safety and how their welfare is protected, and rightly so!. Your plans will be well in place, but ensuring they are adhered to will be the challenge!
  • If you are taking advantage of the flexible furlough scheme, you may find that this has a negative impact on some employee wages. They may have more take-home pay, remaining on full furlough until September and may feel aggrieved if they start working again on a flexible pattern. Consulting with your teams and communicating plans will ensure that you garner support during this tricky time.
  • Now is the time to review your employment contracts, is there provision in there for the quieter times? Perhaps some employees want to reduce hours or are looking for more flexible arrangements. You must consider these requests as they come forward but they may also provide a better way of working for your business.
  • A well-invested team will stand you in great stead in times ahead. With recruitment so strong across the industry, now is the time to look to develop and retain the team you have. With many having tried other industries during the last year, they may be considering a swap. What is it that you can offer to develop someone? Engage with your local training providers, schools and colleges. Explore the funding options that may be available for leadership development or even the apprentice scheme. Simply stating “on the job” training will not cut it anymore; you need a well thought out strategy.

3.      Invest in your property;

  • As well as your team, a well-invested property will appeal to customers and employees alike, and may also see potential efficiencies.
  • Without forgetting your cash flow, what can you do to appeal the those I mentioned above? Can you take advantage of the growth in cocktail or wine sales? Is takeaway now a key part of your business? Is the fabric of the building up to scratch? Has the competition invested well? There is technology available to help reduce costs and enhance efficiencies. Now is the time to innovate and stay ahead.
  • There has been a lot of confusion around the outside spaces and whether they meet the regulations, so don’t forget to consider these. Consult on your license and where/what it covers. Also, do your plans change the make-up of your business? Is the business now significantly takeaway? This can affect your application for future grants or licenses. So ensure you consider all details.

4. Capture data;

  • Now that you are reopening, you may see new customers through your door that have never been before as well as returning loyal customers. How will you communicate with everyone? Have systems in place to capture data (from those that want to give it!) and a plan on how you will use this to maximise your business. There are lots of systems available from QR codes on site to booking system integrations for pre and post-visit. Understanding booking patterns will allow you to tailor your communications and potentially fill need periods or simply add value to an existing booking.
  • Understanding sentiment is a vital part of the data you capture. Have you solutions in place to understand what your customers and employees are saying? Do you actually look at it? This info should form the basis of any plans you have for future growth and investment.

5.      Love you;

  • Invest in yourself! How often do you think about yourself? As a leader or owner, it’s important that you are on top of your game. You need to be healthy, well informed and hungry for the challenge ahead.
  • Taking time to develop skills or strategies will be vital to your success. Often we get sucked into the day to day stuff, but someone needs to be looking at the longer-term plans. Having support, mentors or consultants available to you can help. Even just having someone to bounce ideas off can help you make the right decisions. An outside perspective should always be welcomed, even if it’s not what you want to hear.