Managing Your Restaurant During the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

Over the last couple of weeks, coronavirus has become a colossal threat to public health in our country. All sectors in the economy have been hit hard and we’re all wondering how to deal with this kind of unprecedented adversity. Restaurants are having to make quick changes to way the operations are getting carried out. Restaurant owners, servers, staff, delivery personnel- all are being impacted. What’s more, is that no one knows how long we will have this major threat looming over us.

Needless to say, it is high time to make some major changes to the way you run your restaurant. Ensuring that your customers, as well as staff, stay healthy and safe during this pandemic should be your prime concern. All the way from ensuring the utmost level of sanitation to enforcing measures to protect workers under you, there are numerous changes you need to make right now.

In this article, we’re going to cover the following points:

  • Impact of Coronavirus on Restaurant Sales
  • How to Manage Operations During this Pandemic
  • Running your Restaurant during Lockdown

Impact of Coronavirus on Restaurant Sales

Ever since the coronavirus has been spreading in India, there have been significant changes in people’s lifestyles. With measures like work from home being implemented, colleges and universities being shut down, people have been encouraged to practice social distancing. The government has advised the general public to stay inside their homes at all costs and step out only when it absolutely cannot be avoided. Because of these recent developments, dining in restaurants is totally out of the question.

restaurant coronavirus pandemic

While some restaurants have taken the blow of events being canceled at the last minute as well as sinking profits because of lesser customers, there have also been cases where restaurants have received a lot more food delivery orders than usual.

How to Manage Operations During the Coronavirus Pandemic

With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, you need to make some major changes in management. This includes aspects such as revenue, sanitization as well as ensuring worker safety.

Revenue

Food delivery is the only way you can reach your customers right now. This might cause some trouble for your business and lead to lower profits. It is a good time to evaluate your financial situation and know the extent of damage taking place. Update all your data so that you have a clear idea of how much profit or loss you’re making. Keep tabs on your inventory-perishable items as well as non-perishable items. Evaluate how much your storage capacity is too. It’s okay to limit your menu temporarily if some ingredients aren’t easily available.   

Register with Uber Eats

At the same time, make sure that you create content for your social media pages or blog that is relevant to the current situation. You can do this by reminding customers that you’re still providing food delivery to keep them happy and satisfied in these dire times. Next, you could also use this platform to increase awareness about the importance of good hygiene practices and social distancing right now. After all, people all across the world are working from home and are practically glued to their phone screens all day. Use this fact to your advantage by marketing yourself as a reliable business. 

If your restaurant has a certain minimum order size that customers need to have for food delivery, it is a good idea to take off this restriction for now. When your restaurant is operating solely through food delivery, even an order of Rs.100 or Rs. 150 is better than having no food orders at all. You could also include reheating instructions along with food deliveries to offer customers a better experience. You should look into expanding your delivery network altogether so that you receive more orders.

Given that you don’t have to look after dining in operations, use all the resources you have at hand to provide customers a pleasant delivery experience. Major players such as KFC and Dominos have launched contactless delivery. As more and more people are opting for contactless delivery, you need to make sure that you provide your customers with this option too. Ensure that you have enough cutlery and containers for food delivery.

Sanitization

With more and more Covid-19 cases being reported every single day, safety is paramount at a time like this. Customers need to rest assured that their food is being prepared in safe and hygienic ways. Put up guidelines for handwashing all over the kitchen area in your restaurant. Check on your staff from time to time to ensure that they’re following the required protocol. Keep sanitizers and wipes handy and disinfect all areas in the restaurant- this includes all kitchen equipment, doorknobs, handles, POS systems, billing machines, keyboards…virtually everything that exists on the premises of your restaurant and kitchen. You should also encourage your customers to pay by a card or by using phone wallets so that there is minimum contact between them and the delivery personnel.

hand sanitiser coronavirus

Make sure you’re all stocked up with supplies such as paper towels, napkins, sanitizer solutions, phenyl and so on. 

Delivery men are the ones who are at the forefront of the crisis, given that they have to go from house to house in order to deliver food. They also have to handle cash. Make sure that you ask the delivery personnel you work with to wash their hands the moment they enter your restaurant. You should also remember that it is necessary for them to be equipped with masks and gloves during every step of the delivery process.

Let your customers know that you’re doing everything you can for their safety. Talk about how you’ve put in cleaning and sanitation protocols in your kitchen to ensure customer well being.

Worker Safety

The ongoing crisis is difficult to deal with, but it is extremely important for you to ensure worker safety right now. You will have to make changes to staffing according to the level of operations you’re carrying out. This might even mean needing lesser hands on deck.

Make sure that you offer paid sick leave to every employee so that they stay home if they’re unwell. Even if you don’t currently offer paid sick leave to your employees, that is something you need to change. Any employee with symptoms of coronavirus absolutely needs to stay home so that they don’t put others at risk too. 

safety during corona virus

This is a taxing time for all of us. Remind your employees from time to time to take care of their mental health too. Make sure that you offer them all the support that you can. An empathetic employer can largely contribute to reducing stress. Employee benefits such as paid leave are a must. Even though this might be tough especially when profits are running low, it’s better in the long run. Stay connected with your staff at all times and keep checking up on them constantly. Communication makes it easier to deal with everything changing rapidly the way it is right now.

Running your Restaurant during the Lockdown

State governments have started to impose a complete lockdown on most cities in the interest of public health. For now, the lockdown is being imposed till 31st March 2020.

What does this mean for your restaurant? 

The National Restaurants Association of India has instructed all of its parties to shut down operations but you can still offer food delivery to your customers through Zomato, Swiggy or your own application and website. All food outlets in the country are shut down for dining right now. If a restaurant or café doesn’t provide food delivery and relies only on orders taken on restaurant premises, it will simply have to cease operations for the time being.  

restaurant picture

Even though there is a curfew imposed in certain cities, people who are involved in carrying essential services are still allowed to be outside. The government has included the delivery of fruits, vegetables through online platforms as well as food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato in these essential services.

It is a good idea to check with your respective state government if you are unsure about food delivery right now.

Conclusion

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all walks of life and restaurants have been inflicted too. Small scale quick-service restaurants, as well as global food giants, are having a tough time running daily operations. Ensuring employee safety, focusing on customer well being, facing lower profits- the challenges are huge. With coronavirus cases increasing every day, it is hard to anticipate until when the food industry is going to deal with the impact of lowered profits.

In this article, we’ve covered the various aspects that you need to focus on to ensure the well being of all stakeholders involved in your services. You need to make changes from time to time, depending on the situation. Stay connected with your customers and employees at all times- after all, this is a pandemic that we’re all in together.

Good luck!

Sakshi Trehan

Sakshi Trehan is a content writer at LimeTray. She loves reading a good book while sipping equally good coffee. She can often be found listening to music by Norah Jones or A.R. Rahman