As of the beginning of January 2021, the UK has declared a COVID alert level 5. Consequently, Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the first lockdown measures of the new year. For the hospitality sectors, and especially restaurants and cafés, the new lockdown means shutting down their premises even if they were previously allowed to keep those opened in the tier system.
Ultimately, the current COVID alert level reflects the risk for the NHS to become overwhelmed. As such, it is a necessary measure to slow down infection rates and reduce cases across the country. Yet, what is good for the survival of the population affects small restaurants dramatically. Unlike other businesses, restaurants and other food services cannot operate online. They rely on offline transactions and visits. So what are the best strategies to protect your hospitality businesses during this new lockdown?
Online takeaway orders
You can’t welcome patrons into your premises anymore. However, the current lockdown regulations do not include delivery services. As a small restaurant, you can consider taking your menu online. Some restaurants have chosen to add an online order section to their existing website, providing either controlled collection services or scheduled deliveries. Simpsons in Birmingham, for instance, set up a gourmet menu available for collection during lockdown. For small food places, however, platforms such as Justeat and Ubereat provide a similar service without the cost or hassle of managing online food orders.
Offer online classes
There is more than one way of making a living out of cooking. Food delivery is one option. However, online tutorials could be a great way of preserving your brand. You can reach out to a video production specialist to create short how-to films of some of your most popular dishes. Contrary to common belief, you could even gain more customers as you teach people how to cook some of your most frequently bought items. It is also a fantastic opportunity to promote some lesser-known dishes or to create a buzz around seasonal ingredients. It’s an essential element of authentic marketing strategies. Your audience is encouraged to order when they know how it’s made.
Reach out to other small restaurants
Restaurants have greater survival chances if they join forces in their community. Local businesses could come together to create a sign-up website with a membership programme, for instance. It can be an opportunity to provide business tips and share know-how expertises with newcomers and aspiring entrepreneurs. It can not only help to promote individual brands, but also create a valuable knowledge base for the community. Additionally, the project will use advertising packages and membership fees to support individual businesses.
Apply for a one-off grant
New lockdown grants are available to support small restaurants and protect jobs. The government pledges £4.6 billions in business grants to help businesses during the 2021 lockdown, making up to £9,000 available to individual businesses in the hospitality sector.
For small restaurants, the alert level 5 means that premises are likely to be closed down until mid-February, at which point the lockdown measures will be reviewed. The government expects to be able to lift restrictions gradually as the COVID situation eases. However, the UK is in a precarious situation with cases climbing out of control. For restaurants, this can mean prolonged lockdown. Therefore, it’s essential to think outside the box to combine income-generating approaches.