Let’s be honest here, COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future and that means we will all have to adapt to it. Although, as much as this may be a one-off event, business owners should always be prepared to adapt to any scenario. It is a fundamental rule for any business, be it F&B or not, to have business plans that are both sustainable, disaster-proof and to be able to weather out any events such as this.
Every country has their own way of coping with this problem, however, one universal rule that countries have adopted is the enforcement of social distancing rules and mandatory mask-wearing. In Singapore, we have our own rules and regulations on how F&B establishments must run their businesses. This may include limiting each sitting and group to a maximum of 5 people with a 1-metre spacing, extra manpower to perform queue and crowd management and even stringent health checks. If establishments do not adhere to these regulations, it could lead to penalties such as fines, imprisonments and even ineligibility for government assistance in the future. We must find a way to adapt to these restrictions without compromising the safety of one’s establishment.
Food Delivery Platforms
Let’s start off with the basics. As more and more people continue to stay at home to work and play, the number of customers who dine in restaurants has dropped significantly. As such, many F&B businesses have begun seeking partnerships with delivery food platforms such as GrabFood, Deliveroo and Foodpanda; just to name a few. However, I understand that many businesses may still be hesitant to use these platforms due to the commission charges that they must pay, but I would like to say that the benefits of working with them far outweigh the charges that you have to pay.
Firstly, these platforms have a large customer base that is already available for you to utilise to increase the visibility of your business to new customers while ensuring that your regular and loyal customers still have access to your food. Secondly, with these delivery platforms, the potential for increased revenue is limitless. You do not need servers or cashiers at all; all that you are limited by is your kitchen capacity. And yes, these vendors and delivery men do take a commission but considering the benefits of working with these companies and the fact that it may not be viable to do your own delivery, it may be something you want to consider during this period of time.
Here are some delivery companies that you may consider partnering with!
Manpower & Machine
As many people may know, F&B is an extremely labour-intensive industry; making the food, cleaning the dishes and serving the customers. But what happens when there are not as many customers coming in and not as much food being ordered?
As hard as it may be, it may be time to relook at who is essential to your business. It’s all about operational efficiency. If there are not as many customers, there would not be a need for as many kitchen staff or even servers, especially if your business is now more dependent on food delivery services. Unlike other small businesses, F&B establishments’ cash flow is much more dependent on their current business and resources will be wasted if they have no work to do. One could even consider employing part-time employees to reduce the cost of labour as well.
Another option would be to direct your focus to incorporate technology into your business operations. And yes, although these machines and systems may be expensive, there is no question in mind on what they can give you. Value. A high-end piece of equipment may cost a year or two of an employee’s salary but the amount of work and productivity it can provide compared to an average employee is irrefutable. Some of the equipment systems that can provide this value for you is a good POS system, specialised kitchen equipment, and even transition into e payment transactions. By incorporating more technology into your business practices it will benefit you not just during COVID-19, but for the long run as well. So if you are thinking about upgrading your business, do consider investing in some technology.
Downsizing the menu
Have you ever wondered how a Zi Char shop manages to cook so many dishes in a small hawker shop? They make use of their creativity and flexibility to ensure that variety is not compromised, this is done by focusing on the choice of sauces and cooking methods rather than the type and cut of meat. They do this while at the same time ensuring that all their other ingredients are optimized and can be used for other dishes as well.
Downsizing the menu is also another viable option to achieve operational efficiency as well. By having fewer items on the menu, there will be less food wastage and fewer items for the chefs to cook. There are a few ways to look at this, one is to choose items that are the most popular among customers. By doing so, it ensures that your stock and ingredients would be cleared much easier. Another line of thought would be choosing food items with the highest profit margins. And lastly, choosing food items based on cooking techniques. Choosing the food that can be served in the quickest or most efficient way. Such examples may include the time taken to cook between a steak and smoking a rack of ribs. By identifying which items are the most efficient and optimal to serve to customers, it would help reduce unnecessary costs, time and food wastage.
Increase digital presence & media coverage
Getting media coverage is a great way to increase brand awareness during this time. With more and more people working from home, people would be interested in trying new foods that they may never have the opportunity to, so this is the perfect chance to catch their attention with items, promotions and other unique selling points that your establishments have to offer. Media channels include newspapers such as The Straits Times, Today Paper or radio channels, magazines and even television advertisements. And of course, we must talk about Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. If you do not already know, Social Media is a powerful tool. If one is not on social media, your business is not reaching out as far as it can. In Singapore alone, there are 4.6 million social media users as of January 2020. And with more people at home, more time is spent on social media than ever before. It is a whole new market to conquer if you have not already.
We understand that some people may feel that it may not be worth the money to pay for these Facebook or Instagram ads. But we would like to provide this perspective, with minimum spending of $10, one would be able to reach out to an average of 6 - 8 thousand people, and assuming there is a conversion rate of 1% with each person spending just one dollar, that’s a revenue of $60 already; well above what you paid for at the start.
In this digital age, many businesses, let alone F&B businesses are using social media as their main platform for marketing. Thus, by actively not utilizing these advertisements, you are not only not hitting your potential, but you are also essentially losing out to your competitors as well.
If you are interested in utilising advertisements on social media, do check out these links for a better understanding of how they can help your business!
This is an unprecedented problem faced by all of us, COVID-19 has affected us in ways we have never expected with many businesses shuttering. However, there is always a silver lining through it all. Here at Protegie, we can help you even during this time. We believe that marketing is core to any resilient and sustainable business, and through our tried and proven marketing techniques and campaigns, we believe that we can help you move forward into the future.