The nationwide lockdown restrictions imposed over the last few months have seen Australia’s once-bustling hospitality industry face a grim new reality, as eateries were forced to close, or adjust to takeaway or home delivery-only offerings, writes Nick Cloete, founder and CEO of cloud-based point of sale solution Kounta.
However, as the sector struggled to thrive, business owners found creative ways to pivot their original business model and deliver a new restaurant experience, through ramping up online ordering and home delivery services.
While the light at the end of the tunnel is now in sight as restrictions begin to ease nationwide, the fight is far from over as businesses must adapt to the ‘new normal’ with imposed limits on dine-in patrons. Managing cash flow is more important than ever, and both staffing and stock considerations need to be closely monitored to ensure optimal business efficiency and rebuilding of steady profits. Here are four tips to help hospitality businesses ensure a safe and successful reopening of doors, while optimising revenue and increasing cash flow.
Take away is here to stay
While there may be many that can’t wait to resume the coffee dates with friends, or decadent dinners to celebrate special occasions, there are many people who remain hesitant to slide back into normal dining out routines. Customers are increasingly gravitating towards online ordering, as revealed by Kounta data showing that the average order value for online ordering channels has doubled since January. This means that takeaway, home delivery and a diversified product offering, including retail food and drink, will remain hugely popular and should constitute a key part of a venue’s offering.
Creatures of comfort
While restrictions forced a shift towards food-delivery and takeaway services, customers have begun to relish in the prevalence and accessibility of being able to order from first class eateries such as Sydney’s hatted Porteño restaurant from the comfort of their own home.
Restaurants also reap benefits from online ordering, with Kounta data revealing that the national average for delivery orders is well over $50. Home delivery has the opportunity to become a smart revenue stream for venues alongside freeing up dine-in capacity – a distinct advantage with patron restrictions currently in place. Sydney-based IIKO Mazesoba is a prime example, which introduced home delivery options for customers to recreate their favourite dishes at home, allowing the venue to maintain turnover of inventory.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
While restaurants may be gearing up to reopen their doors to dine-in customers, it’s likely that business operations will look considerably different to pre-COVID times. It’s vital to have a comprehensive plan in place to ensure demand is managed and costs are controlled effectively. Bookings are going to become more necessary than ever before and will go hand in hand with socially-distanced seating arrangements and set menus to uphold customer expectations and minimise unpredictability. This is alongside operators ensuring satisfactory sanitisation between customers, and ensuring alignment with state-specific regulations such as contact tracing. Kounta recently released its new contact tracing feature, ‘Safe Check-In’, to help venues adhere to the government guidelines by keeping a secure, digital, time-stamped record of all customer visits. So, check your state government guidelines to confirm whether digital contact tracing is necessary for your venue.
The last few months have forced venues across the nation to pivot to online platforms and adopt adaptable and connected cloud-based technologies to survive. In the future, operators will be using platforms like Kounta to not just survive, but thrive. The proof is in the pudding with the integration of centralised order and inventory management alongside smart analytics undeniably optimising business efficiency. With efficient operations more important now than ever, being tech-savvy is no longer optional.
While being one of the most affected industries of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry has displayed incredible grit and adaptability in overcoming challenges and pivoting business models to adjust to constantly changing restrictions. This next phase of reopening will be where the true learnings happen, shaping the future of the industry for years to come.
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