Small changes that make a big difference
Restaurants are in for some tough times ahead this year. Not so good news, considering that 2019 was quite bad for closures, too. Even before the pandemic, it seemed that every day we read horror stories about closures on the high street: shops, restaurants, pubs, cafes… all struggling because of depressed demand and rising rents. How can we adapt to get through this?
Rising rents have been a major challenge. Not just the rents paid for the locations themselves, but the rents that staff have to pay. The minimum wage has increased significantly, but in many areas not enough to keep pace with rising living costs. What are employees supposed to do? Take on additional hours somewhere else, and they won’t be giving you their full attention. Move out of town to pay less on accommodation? Then they have to contend with high public transport costs and commuting time.
However, it is not all gloom and doom, and a closer look at the figures suggests some strategies that may help you to survive and prosper. However, before we get into our list, take a look where else you can cut down on labour costs for your business and save on money:
1. Sit tight.
If you are in a popular high street location, it will probably pay to stay put if you can get through the next eighteen months to a year. The gold rush appears to be over. Fewer operators are moving into the high street and many are moving out. That means rents are likely to fall, or at least not rise so fast.
2. Branch out beyond the high street.
If you are looking to expand (or to move), try the suburbs rather than town centres. According to the CGA’s May 2019 Market Growth Monitor, there were net openings of 1.8% out “in the sticks”.
Opening a new physical location may not be on the cards, however. Look to online avenues to better promote your services and expand your operations.
3. Look at your offering.
While restaurant closures are up, the dramatic decline of pubs and bars has slowed and may be coming to an end. There is a trend towards consumers wanting premium drinks such as craft beers and a reduced interest in fancy food menus. That also means you will need fewer kitchen staff.
4. Sticking with food?
Differentiate with creative, high quality yet simple recipes. People might be eating out less, but they appreciate quality. For example: while PizzaExpress made a massive loss last year, Franco Manca was a major success story. Their recipe for success: giving customers a great taste experience by buying the best ingredients (capers, olives etc.) and differentiating with sourdough pizza crusts (see Financial Times).
5. Adapt your service.
Re-evaluate your business model around the difficult labour market conditions. Slow-paced table service is costly, whereas upscale counter service does not carry the stigma of “fast food”. San Francisco’s foodie district has already had to deal with this issue.
6. Find a solution in technology.
Make the most of technological advances such as online reservations and express delivery services (as well as Bizimply workforce management, obviously). These also help to contain labour costs.
7. Target the right people.
Re-evaluate your business around who has the most discretionary spend. And yes, it’s millennials. Look at any successful and busy restaurant or bar earlier in the year and that’s who’s splashing the cash. If you were still pulling in mainly the over-35s, i.e. people with mortgages to pay and children to feed, you will probably find the going tougher. It pays to give millennials what they want.
These are just a few top-line thoughts addressing the current situation today’s business environment and what is to come.
We at Bizimply look out for businesses affected by this crisis and pledge to bring you and your staff back to success and beyond. Don’t hesitate to contact us by phone, email or social media if you have any questions:
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