22 Jun


As the government prepares to open pubs and restaurants nationwide, there is a lot to consider for every business.

To help you cover every base, we have summarised for you the key elements of planning to reopen for you to review and check off:

  1. Safety - can you keep customers and staff safe?

Safety must be paramount throughout your plan to reopen. Your customers, your staff and your family’s safety must take centre stage, not only to keep you healthy, but to build the trust that will be crucial in order to sustain trade in the months to come and not least, to comply with H&S regulations. Those that take this on board and engage with the science and advice from the government will have an advantage if and when they come under scrutiny by authorities.

* Get your info first hand: There is a huge reservoir of information available on what must be done. It is critical that you gather your information from reputable sources, otherwise you might at best end up wasting your time on things that weren’t necessary, or at the other end of the scale being the centre of an outbreak that closes the premises or worse. The government will not always be the fastest at officially reporting information but will be far and away the safest method of gathering the information needed. Their advice can be found at and is updated regularly. Your BII of course is also a first class resource, ensuring that you have links to the key dispatches, as well as giving you the advice and resources you need to implement the key elements of the ‘new normal’.

* Ensure that you put people first and listen to concerns: Seek regular feedback and listen to your staff and customers: They will be a crucial resource for you to be able to ensure the experience you present is a positive and safe one. Gather feedback to improve on both the customer experience and your staff’s safety and enjoyment at work.

* Be realistic: Until the development of a vaccine or an effective treatment, or until the coronavirus is less of a threat, the industry will have to change. Follow the news and consider the changes that you need to action as soon as possible. Do not delay on this point, things will be far from normal on reopening. Plan, forecast and review regularly.

* Is there an outlay needed? If your business is viable and you can weather the storm, it may well be sensible to look at additional funding in your business. Could you increase outdoor capacity and fill it? Do you need invest in furniture that allows better social distancing? While any investment in uncertain times should be looked at very carefully, this should not stop you from at least investigating business growth where it can contribute to the sustainability of the business.

  1. Financial planning: Can you survive in the new world?

* Do you need to change your offer? Considering what is expected to be a reduced hospitality spend nationwide, it may be that your current offering is too wide, too specialised, or simply wrong for the current needs of your clientele. A lower turnover does not necessarily mean lower profit margin, however on reduced volumes, to cover overheads it will mean that you need to be sure that your business is able to operate as efficiently as possible. Simplified food offerings and differing ranges could be simpler to produce, requiring less staffing, or producing higher margins.

* Does staffing need addressing? No-one likes making people redundant, but if your model needs to change, you may need to make hard decisions in order to protect more jobs and fundamentally, your business and all of the other jobs that rely on it. Undertake a rota exercise to ensure that with your new projected turnover, you are not overstaffed in the wrong areas, or overall.

* How will your costs change: Are there costs, subscriptions, or equipment you will no longer need, reduce, or even defer? Are there ways that you can cut costs with your new offering or staff model? Are there new costs that you need to plan for such as screens, contactless tech?

* How will your marketing change: The customer will have new priorities upon reopening of sites. How you communicate your safety principles, your offer and your services will need to be tailored to maximise customer trust and confidence in your business, as well as showing them that they can still have fun and enjoy themselves within your business.

  1. Cleaning: Planning, carrying out and recording

* Ensure that you have a plan: It will be crucial that you retrain your staff, record, and demonstrate to customers and potentially the authorities your plan for keeping the premises and people safe. This should be written and posted in strategic areas, with reminders to staff and customers about handwashing and good practice, as well as the way to order, pay and use the facilities.

* Risk Assessments: These should be carried out for all aspects of reopening. Templates can be found online. In short, you should consider where risks exist within the business and what steps you have taken to mitigate these. Once completed these should then be documented and retained so that the business can demonstrate on enquiry how it has taken steps to keep its staff and customers as safe as possible.

* Ensure that you are keeping records: Good record keeping of risk assessments, cleaning and incident reports will ensure that you are protected in case of illness or inspection.

  1. Advantages: Where can you excel?

* Takeaway: For a small planned outlay, businesses can develop a lucrative takeaway operation depending on the local market and location. This has grown exponentially since the lockdown and should be considered in depth together with the costs involved.

* Innovation: Look at the local market that you operate in…what’s missing? What can’t be experienced elsewhere? Can you fill that gap? There are many resources and opportunities on the BII website and through other channels to make your business stand out in a competitive landscape.

* Service speed: To accommodate social distancing and the reduced numbers, turnover times of tables and contact between people should be reduced where possible. Can you work and train with your staff to improve service models? Is there a way that you can improve your systems to make the business safer and more efficient, allowing you greater customer throughput and better margins?

* Online engagement: Letting people know what you are doing to keep them safe and still provide great experiences will be crucial in getting people to part with their money. Being transparent and informative about the work you are doing will be appreciated by potential customers.

* Outdoor space: This will be crucial, especially if there is a period during which this is the only space that is allowed to open. How much additional seating can you provide? What if it rains? Can you provide cover for as many seats as possible? Are you able to provide temporary shelter to ensure uninterrupted trade?

  1. Technology

* Cashless, including tips: Ensure that you can reduce risk where possible by utilising your current card machine. Put in place a payment protocol that keeps people safe and have a conversation with the staff about the best way to handle tips via card and other contactless methods.

* Click and collect: Your website or IT company may be able to help with a new way of handling orders online. Some firms have apps in place where they can order direct from the table, as well as take payment or plan deliveries.

* Customer journey: While the major priority is keeping your staff and customers safe, this must be balanced with people wanting to come to your business. Carry out trial shifts, walkthroughs, and soft openings to ensure that the customer experience is still enjoyable… after all, that is what your business is about!

* Show them inside: Some people may be afraid to enter pubs and restaurants when they reopen. Utilising social media to show people inside your business and in the case of Google maps, even allowing them to take a tour, will help for them to see that you have taken steps to make them safe.

Your next steps:

The key process cycle to achieve sustainability within your business after reopening will be:

  • Planning
  • Action
  • Review
  • Repeat

Now is the time to invest in your plan so that you don’t miss a single opportunity when reopening happens over the coming weeks.

One final thing…Good luck from us all!