How Businesses can Survive COVID-19 Cornoa Virus
How YOUR Cafe - Food Retail Business can Survive COVID-19 Cornoa Virus
Actions to take to survive COVID-19 Corona Virus
****UPDATED 10:30am 25.03.2020****
WA FIRST STATE TO RESTRICT ALCOHOL
****UPDATED 9:3am 25.03.2020****
Since writing this blog post, things have changed dramatically in the last few days! I hope you are all doing okay – and that if you are feeling down, or pensive, please reach out… You’re not alone, even though you may feel like you are!
Michaelia Cash - The Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Senator for WA, in a media release 23/03/2020 announced that they have opened the Contact Center from 7am till 11pm AEST ( that’s 5am – 9pm Perth time) 7 days a week.
Call them if you have any questions regarding your business 13 28 49 or access the support for business link here
I have been doing some more stuff, digging around, to find other ways, suggestions to help you, should you stay open and trade. You may be thinking of closing, but – just check out the list below, as there could still be opportunities that you may not have thought of!
Mastering Takeaway Sales
With the social distancing lockdown, it means that you are now looking to either close or to trade in a takeaway environment full time. As mentioned below previously – look into third party delivery options (UberEATS, Menulog, Deliveroo etc) if you aren’t already using them. Consider utilising staff members to now become drivers. Make sure that you also take advantage of any discounts, incentives, no commissions or waiving of fees that these 3rd party services are offering.
• Constant communication on social media, make use of any in house loyalty programs you may have set up previously.
• Promote family type meals and meal replacement items
• Consider preparing meal packs to be cooked at home later (toasties ready to go!) Provide heating instructions, cooking at home.
• Consider pre-made (pre-ordered) meals for pick up at certain times
• Offer community support – Offer discounts to medical staff, Kids eat free, Free delivery etc,
• Look for Opportunities in your area to provide meals for kids who relied on school canteens
• If you have a carparking space – create a makeshift drive through. Think of ways customers can communicate from the car to you – eg Honk twice, flash headlights, text, call mobile Maybe – staff with skates on??? (just thinking out loud!)
• Perhaps get a staff member to wear a ‘sandwich board’ or hold a sign at the closest intersection letting drivers know your open!
• Turn your staff into Macca’s workers – get them to upsell items (would you like fries with that?)
• Make use of coupons, offers. Place them in the delivery bags to drive future orders
• Consider setting up Facebook target ads, with a 10km radius from your business (there are discounts to run this – from as little as $5 per week!)
• Add a little bit of fun and humour – dress up, wear a silly hat and share on social media. Spread positivity.
• Communicate how much safer it is, to pick up a meal from you verses going to the supermarket.
• Print off some flyers (Vistaprint online and delivered usually within the week!) and do a letterbox drop within the streets around you. – side note, if you’ve not used Vistaprint before, it’s a great online printing business, and relatively cheap too. At the moment, they are offering 40% off flyers, brochures, posters and more – with Free delivery! Plus there is Double up promo, buy 2000 flyers for the price of 1000 https://www.vistaprint.com.au/offers.aspx
If unfortunately – you are having to close down, please think of it as temporary.
But I have found some tips to consider on shut down.
Closing your Premises
• Deplete your food stock lines down (goes without saying!)
• If you have any unopened stock (dry goods, packaging) ask your supplier if you can return. (some suppliers are happy to do this and apply a credit against your account. Some may charge a small restock fee – but its best to ask any way!)
• Have a staff cook off last trading day once doors have closed, to utilise any fresh ingredients left.
• Consider donating any left over to food banks
• Cancel things like landscaping/ window cleaning services/ external cleaning services
• Cancel any subscriptions like papers and magazines delivered to your business
• Don’t forget to clean fridges, freezers and switch them off. You don’t need to be paying electricity on these.
• Turn off any aircons – you don’t need cooling or heating – if you aren’t there! (I’ve known of a café who closed for 2 weeks, had their air-condition on auto/timer and ended up paying more on her energy bill!)
• Cancel any waste management services (grease traps, cooking oils, garbage etc)
Financially prepare for shut down
• Have a look at your GL and see if there is anything that can be cancelled straight off, or perhaps paused.
• Ask for fees to be waived with banks, subscriptions etc while closed
• Try paying with credit card to extend payments
• Stop any automatic payments coming from your account
• Also – if you are a franchisee – see if there is any relief in royalty, advertising funds. (deferrals, accruals, suspensions)
• Talk to your bank, they have things in place ready to assist where possible
• Talk to your landlord. (see below previous update on abatement letter) ask to seek a reduction or delay (can be added to end of lease) % off for short time (again added to end of lease)
• Most importantly – stay healthy and mentally healthy too.
****UPDATED 1:30pm 23.03.2020****
NEW BUSINESS RESTRICTIONS FACT SHEET 23.03.2020
As you are already aware, New business restrictions come into effect as at 12:00pm Today.
On Sunday 22 March, the Prime Minister Made a further announcement that the National Cabinet have agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings that restrict Restaurants and cafes to takeaway and/or home delivery. Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis.
1. Restaurants and Cafes are limited to Takeaway and Delivery ONLY from midday today.
2. Businesses are able to have customers enter the premises to order takeaway food but cannot serve food in their premises at all (including in takeaway containers). For Example no takeaway cups whilst sitting at tables.
3. We would recommend that they remove all tables and chairs in the venues other than what is required to allow people to wait for food (please ensure they comply with 1 person per 4sqm rule and social distancing.
4. No new permits or licences are required to allow a business to start serving takeaway other than adhering to pre-existing food handling legislation at a state level.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO TRADE!
Key industry leaders, and small business organisations are URGING cafe's, bakeries, restauraunts to continue to trade, and remain open to offer takeaway meals.
CEO Wes Lambert has today, alongside the three largest online delivery platforms, called for restaurants & cafes across Australia to embrace takeaway and delivery as the only option left to help their businesses trade through the Coronavirus pandemic
You can access all the latest info on the FACT Sheet provided by CLICKING HERE
What if you need to stand down employees?
This is hard, and its hard for the employee and the employer. But what if you do need to stand down some - if not all your staff, until all this blow's over?
Well there is a provision of the Fair Work act 2009 that has a provision for employers to 'stand down' employees for "stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible"
The R&CA have provided a STAND DOWN template that you can use, just switching the details out with yours. I know its not ideal, but at least this template may help if you have to make that decision, and trying to find a way to do it, that is fair and just.
****UPDATED 10am 22.03.2020**** Just in from Canberra,
Government's $66 billion second coronavirus Recovery package
Firstly - Don't panic!
No doubt, you along with a lot of others are experiencing changes in customer behaviour as a result of the…. Dare I say it… Coronavirus! (are you sick of hearing about it yet??)
But, despite the gloom and dooms-dayers, there are things that you can do today that will assist you, so that you can keep trading.
Unless you have been living in a cave, we all know the risks, seen all the information that has been posted, shared and at times mis-communicated, but did you know that there are things that you can do right now, that will help you stay in business, keep trading and still keep your staff?
At the office here at Elite Foods, we want to help you keep going, by providing with real tools, tips, links and actions that you can use straight away. We want to provide you support where we can. Lets, try and mitigate all the negative and fear that is out there!
So what can you do?
The Government has released stimulus packages for small businesses, (you can click here to find out more!)
BUT the Nation relies on retailers, (yes.. YOU!) because YOU form part of Australia’s Largest Employers. In order for the current stimulus packages to be effective, the Government needs retailers like you, so that cash is turned through the economy effectively.
The Government, although advising to be cautious, is still telling people to go out, and go support local businesses like yours. Customers are still shopping, and still dining, despite COVID-19.
Chances are, you have already implemented some of these things I've listed below. But there may be a few things that you weren’t aware of or hadn’t considered.
We’ve gathered a wide variety of tools, hints and checked in with industry, to see what others are doing, and most importantly what is actually working. This list isn’t exhaustive, nor any guarantee that it will stop COVID -19, but is intended to give you an action list to focus on and to help reassure you, your staff and your customers.
With the announcement regarding keeping a 4-metre distance here are some things you can do straight away. (click HERE to read the latest Fact Sheet published 20th March 2020)
• Firstly and foremost STAY CALM Customers are still welcomed into your premises.
• Become Super Class Cleaning Ninjas! Do routine wipe down of surfaces every 2-3 hours with food grade sanitiser.
• Download the free printable posters from the Chamber of Commerce COLOUR HERE or you can print it in BLACK & WHITE HERE,
• Remove all communal water stations. Guests requiring water should be served by staff.
• Encourage frequent and through handwashing from all staff during shifts, especially after coming into contact with soiled surfaces (e.g after wiping down tables)
• Reduce your seating capacity to less than 50 people, OR making sure that your seating can maintain a distance of 1.5 mts between patrons
• Having hand hygiene products and suitable waste bins available, (of course, frequent cleaning and emptying is also important)
• If you have cutlery open on tables, consider individually wrapping cutlery in a serviette. This is also important for things like straws, which tend to be in an open container. Consider not serving straws altogether in the short term.
• Instead of banning Keep Cups, perhaps fill the cup, but get the customer to place their own lid on. Make sure that staff don’t touch a customer’s keep cup lid. Same too for disposable cups. Customers will be okay if they pop on their own lid. Afterall, they can still get their favourite coffee!
• Consider going cashless, and encourage staff to use payWave/ tap n go, or get the customer to swipe their own card, and use the edge of their card to pop in their PIN
• If you do have to handle cash – make sure that you use a sanitizer after each transaction – or certainly before you touch your face, or anything else.
• If you are using laminated menu’s – get rid of them. Especially if you serve food that customers may eat with their hands. Reprint your menu and have it on a board near the counter, get your staff familiar with the menu so they can explain, or provide printed copies on the tables. Laminated menus can harbour the virus. Besides, you don’t need the extra time to sanitize every menu. If you can’t do that, or still want to use the laminated menu’s, then please make sure that they are sanitized each time you clean and sanitize the tables.
• Perhaps you could look at reducing your menu items. Concentrate on those items you a known for, and loved for, and ditch those that aren’t big sellers.
• Have you thought about selling through a window? You may not have access to a window – as such – but you can still implement the same concept. It could be as simple as setting up a table near the door to take orders, which will still allow customers to come past and order – without having to come into your business.
• As suggested by Cheryl, from Rockingham Beach Bakery, look at reducing your trading hours, and only trade during the businest times. This could save you not only the costs/ wages, but as Cheryl points out - reduces your exposure too!
• If you are already using delivery services like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Menulog (amongst others) perhaps now is the time to look at your product offering, and re-tweak your menu and costings. The R&CA released a fact sheet on Introducing Delivery in your Business You can find out more here – FACT SHEET
• If you haven’t yet considered the delivery services, then Uber Eats and Menulog have offered incentive plans, lower to no fees for those customers who have yet to sign up. For example,
o Uber Eats are offering the option to receive daily payments, rather than weekly, and No Service fees on pick up orders until 30th of Jun, as well as waiving activation fees to help new businesses wanting to quickly join the platform. You can find out more here – UBEREATS ANNOUNCEMENT
o Menulog is waiving all relevant costs wanting to take advantage of the platform and has other additional resources to assist new businesses seeking support.
You can find out more here – MENULOG ANNOUNCEMENT
• GET LOUD on Social Media - Now is a great time to get on social media – and let your community know that you are still open, you’re still trading, and that they can still get their favourites. The push on the social media groundswell is to support local businesses. Make sure they know your around!
• And lastly - Re-assure customers that staff have been encouraged to stay home if they are unwell.
• As for reducing contact with others (other than customers of course) – people like your food service delivery drivers – have a key cut and allow them access to place your stock away. Or perhaps find ways that a driver can leave your order securely. Most Food service providers already have customers who provide keys to the premises for the delivery staff to gain access. (The upside to this is that the delivery could already be there waiting for you, for when you arrive!)
So what can you do if things are really tough, and you’re not sure how to go on from here?
Have you thought about approaching your Suppliers or Landlord?
I’m not saying that your landlord will give you an abatement, BUT if you don’t ask… you don’t get? Right?
Landlords have been asked by the Prime Minister to ensure that they play their part, so that the retails sector gets through these tough times as well.
If you are struggling to pay the rent now – then you need to take action NOW!
All it can take, is setting up a meeting to talk to your landlord. Tell them where you are at, how much you can afford to pay, and when. Then together, work out a plan to fight to keep your business on track – not just for survival, but to be able to thrive once the COVID-19 crisis passes.
There is a template that was put out by the Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia, which you can fill out the blanks, with your details and send it off to your landlord. (YOU CAN GET A COPY HERE)
Wes Lambert, CEO of Restaurant & Catering Industry Association in a press release Wednesday 18th of March, (copy of press release available here)
That is why R&CA is today asking members to write to their landlords asking for rent abatements to assist them in keeping their businesses running. "We are calling on landlords, wherever possible, to partner with our industry to keep businesses making coffees, cooking meals and providing the world class hospitality they can by providing rent abatements to get businesses through these uncertain times
Backed up by Phil Chapman, Director of Lease 1 who also urged,
All facets of the sector need to come together, including Landlords, Lessees, Retailers, Bankers, Suppliers, Government and Staff teams
But here are 10 actions points as suggested by Phil Chapman, Director of Lease1
• Review rosters v's trading hours and create a saving plan
• Negotiate with your bank to defer any loan payments
• Same for Equipment and Chattel leases – seek to defer payment, or reduce payment in the short term
• Negotiate suitable payment terms with your current suppliers and look at perhaps payment plan arrangements. Most suppliers will allow you to continue to purchase, providing that you are consistent in your arrangement. Look for options like paying your current invoice, with another $200 or $500 on top that, which can be used to offset your older invoices. Move from an account, to perhaps COD, or payment prior to delivery. That way, you know what you need and what you can afford.
• Review and remove all non-essential operation costs, such as storage fee’s
• If you were thinking of upgrading, defer expenditure on equipment, refurbishments and use those funds into operational costs.
• Track your numbers. Compare your customer counts, sales, GP% and P&L reports for the same week/month period to last year,
• Have a quick look over your lease and identify ways you can save here. Areas such as waiving of annual rent reviews, reduction in security/ bank guarantees to free up capital.
• Create a revised sales and cash flow projection to the end of this calendar year, making assumptions based on the above savings
• Talk to your landlord. Create an action plan together, which can include rent abatement, deferring rent, extending lease term or a combination of all 3.
The key here is to NOT panic, nor hide under your pillow, and try and ignore what’s happening, BUT to get a jump on things. Communicate to your landlord, suppliers, staff, let them know how you’re going. I can tell you; they are more open to hearing from you than to find out that you’ve walked away. No one really wants that. We've all got to put our big boots on and put things in place so that you are here this time next year – the year after that, and five years in time!
I am interested in what you have done in your business, to combat the COVID-19, or what other things you are doing that’s assisting you through this! Did I miss anything? – let me know, drop me a line.
Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.