1. Reduce Exposure Now!
This is survival time. At least in the UK and USA, restaurants still retained the right to provide take away services during the lock down for some time. In Mauritius, it’s not only closed, but do you think once the lockdown is over, consumers are expected to flock back to their favourite restaurant for their favourite meal? Mostly not. There is fear in people, and there is generally fear of the unknown. There is still no remedy found and no indication of any cure for the moment.
“Bluntly: cutting staff and other operational costs is key”.
The coronavirus has already wreaked havoc on restaurants and the future sounds like cost cutting and laying off employees in droves. There is no alternative here to shift to take away service, as in some other countries, but then again, even consumer mindset may be one to avoid eating out altogether.
And this, according to us is a marathon, not a sprint, although surprisingly, many are taking the lockdown as their annual leave and that everything will be back to normal thereafter, we do not think so.
You may have to think through your whole business set up!
Do I temporarily close and cut down costs as far as possible to wait and see?
Do I return the lease?
Do I drastically reduce expenses?
Do I try something new?
Do I reconvert into some other business?
These are times for the hard questions…
2. Break it down
Your restaurant business does not only consist of the sale of food to customers. There are assets you may own which you can reconvert to new business avenues. For example:
Your cook and manpower
Your customer contacts and preferences information based on your POS and other mailing and loyalty programs.
It is time to be seriously creative with what you can do with these. There is hard asset, there is stock and then you have the intellectual property which you can exploit differently – examples would be your recipes, your business processes and systems, your customer information, and your know-how in the business and expertise in running restaurants. Learning to assess your strong points and tangible and intangible assets to put forward as options for the future is one of the many things to get under wraps.
With the terms of the lock down, there is no not much leeway for any restaurant to do anything else but close down, but is there anything else that can be done?
Thinking out of the box is the way forward – allow us to showcase 3 examples:
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and Pizza Hit operator in China – Yum China Holdings Inc, is trying out new business lines like catering and delivering raw food for home-cooking to boost revenue;
Dog Haus in Los Angeles and in the US, has created a network which acts as a mini supermarket to leverage its raw material purchases and selling them directly to consumers, given the rush to supermarkets may not be enticing to everyone;
Texas Roadhouse Restaurants are selling their meat and seasoning products directly to consumers rather than any dine-in experience.
So yes, there are options, and not only in reconversion but in planning how to get your cash flow, and how to keep alive for such time as the business picks up again.
4. Negotiating with Government
Financial support and loans are perhaps not the only reason to negotiate with the State for the moment. Licences and permissions to open as a different business, or otherwise, support for centres which require food within Government and quarantine sections may be part of the plan.
The Government and your banker are perhaps providing support for salaries and financial assistance with moratoriums on interest of capital payments, but knowing your end plan and how you expect to tackle the pandemic and life after it, may be the first things to sort out before getting into a frenzy of borrowing or life support type arrangements. What you need is revenue, not more indebtedness!
5. We always need to adapt
- A network of restaurants can become the next supermarket chain almost overnight. No need for fancy investments, and you already have your suppliers. Think about it! And get the right financiers.
You may expect bio and healthy living to be more popular in times of pandemic but beware of the recession which can pull the demand towards simpler food and the traditional low-cost products, sacrificing brands for house products.
Although supermarkets and stores have supply, the product mix may change providing a unique opportunity for a restaurant to add value and bring its unique spice to the game…
As the world shifts to online living, the online DIY market becomes more and more attractive, with time being deployed differently.
As the brand ‘Sony’ would tell you – ‘Go Create’. You are restaurants after all…
Have questions? Our team is here to help. Call (+230) 2103838 – Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5 pm MUT.