Actions Businesses Need to Take NOW – Your Playbook to REOPEN Your Hospitality or Retail Business

Actions Businesses Need to Take NOW – Your Playbook to REOPEN Your Hospitality or Retail Business

This has been a VERY tough time for retail and hospitality businesses in Canada.  With many restaurants closed or offering limited take out or delivery options, many have seen sales and revenues decline.  Small businesses are the most vulnerable as they often do not have the reserves to help them through difficult times.

Implementing these practices below will help ensure your small business reopens with excellence and not only survives, but thrives when re-opened.

In every province, Worksafe and the government are now requiring every business to have a COVID-19 safety plan.  It must assess the risk of exposure at their workplace and business owners must implement measures to keep their workers safe.  If a formal plan is not already in place prior to operation, you are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.

To help you develop your plan in BC, go to   This page provides information and resources on keeping workers safe in industries that have been providing essential services since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.  This plan must be posted at the worksite.

Focus on your hero products

Many restaurants and cafes try to be everything to everyone.  Having too much on a menu means you have to carry many extra products and during slow season potentially some obsolete inventory.  Stay true to your top sellers your customers love and let go of anything not selling to streamline your offerings and menu.  This will allow you to focus money, time and energy on your hero products and not impact your cash-flow.  Drop the extras and focus on what you do best!  No time has ever been better to streamline your menu without getting too much backlash.

Win the Competition’s Customers

If your small business is going to prosper in tough times, you need more customers!  Drawing them in from the competition is the best way to get customers already looking for your product.  Be nimble.  The best way is to offer something more or different than the competition.  Depending on your business model – offering a cheaper price for the same product may work short-term.  The best way however, is to offer them an experience that they will not forget and win them over with a better connection than the competition.

Keep the Focus on Great Service

Providing excellent service is the number one reason why customers come back.  In tough times this is even more important.  As many customers fall on challenging times as well, they will only be splurging on eating out once in a while, so make sure that they choose you for your great products and great service!  The first step to delivering great customer service is hiring the right team members who love to serve and training them well.  An engaged, happy team will in turn treat your customers well!  If you can, invest in training and developing your team’s connection skills – this will pay off for years to come and show your team you care about them.

Invest in Marketing

In slow times the first thing to be cut is often the marketing budget.  This is actually the worst time to be cutting back.  Many people are still working from home and on their computers for more hours than ever before.  There is no better time to market than during a recession or downturn since there will be potentially less customers going around, visiting less often and even spending less.  Consumers are restless and looking to make changes in their buying decisions and often times wanting to move to more local, neighborhood businesses to support the small business owner.  Now is your time to draw them in.

Cut all unnecessary costs

Wages are the highest expense for most restaurants, cafes and retail stores.  On your slowest nights move to less staff on, even considering having the manager or salaried team members fill in for anyone part-time.  This allows some flexibility in scheduling for the busier nights, and can be a huge costs savings without impacting service.

Small changes like replacing old light bulbs with energy efficient ones can pay off in the long run in your energy bill.  Consider turning off equipment earlier if not used or needed to operate the business (i.e. Turn off one oven after your dinner rush and leave the other functioning until close).  When your team closes instruct them to only leave enough lights on till safety and nothing turned on that is not needed.  Set your thermostats to low overnight or off.

Review Inventory Management Practices

See what can be done to reduce inventory costs without sacrificing the quality of goods or inconveniencing customers.  Are you ordering too many of particular items? Is there another supplier that can offer a better price or smaller/more convenient pack size?  In today’s competitive landscape suppliers will often offer deals or specials to get and keep y0ur business, there is no harm in asking for a better rate during tough times.

Offer Value-based Specials

During these tough times, every penny counts.  And for many businesses they feel that giving a deal, promotion or special will have them making less money and be hesitant to implement.  However, some business and revenue is better than NO sales.  Offer your customers something that will draw them in.  Offering items that are compliments of the chef and or for VIP or loyal customers helps build the customers connection to the business.

Connect with your community and neighbors

Community connections, now more than ever, are the most important for small local businesses.  Connect with your community in unique and innovative ways.  Is it time to have a partial re-opening event?  Whether in-person or through social media your customers are looking for connection.  Family-run, small businesses are a way for customers to connect with you and each other.  So, reach out to your neighbors, connect with local businesses and show them we are all in this together.  If possible when you and your team are shopping – spend money in their business to show your support, and encourage your team members to do the same!

According to Small Business BC – British Columbians possess an entrepreneurial flair unmatched across Canada. In fact, 98 per cent of business in our province is small business!  And changing economic times can be nerve-wracking for any business owner, but they are also an important time to remember that small businesses are Canada’s best job creators and help the economy recover.  Take a deep breath, make some adjustments and be ready to welcome those customers (now or when you open again) back to your amazing establishment.  And if you need a partner to tackle this next challenge, please do not hesitate to reach out and schedule a FREE collaboration session with one of our experts. – Pinnacle Hospitality Consulting where we will partner with you to bring your business back to the Pinnacle!

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