With over 20 years of experience in the field of business and innovation, Skills for Growth - SME Support's Business Change Specialist Peter Craen is a much valued member of the team and has proven to be a creative and understanding support for SMEs in Greater Manchester.
The Boom-Back for Hospitality
April 12th, 2021 marked the return to outdoor hospitality in England, a milestone for the sector and a much-anticipated day for businesses and consumers alike. However, the reopening of hospitality bears the scars of a difficult year passed, so how do we support a boom-back for the industry?
Businesses and consumers alike have a role to play in the recovery of the hospitality sector, and the success rides on our ability to reflect on and learn from the past, and our willingness to embrace the future.
What can business owners take with them from the last year?
Technology and Digitization
Implement a venue check-in system of your own, or encourage staff and customers to check in using the NHS track and trace app. Normalising the check-in system help you protect customers and staff and collect important data directly relating to your business.
Make better use of data to help you plan ahead and develop policy and procedures to minimise the risk of COVID breakouts after reopening.
Digital communication has been paramount during the pandemic, but if you haven’t got the skills or equipment to communicate online with your employees and customers, you can explore fully funded Digital Skills Bootcamps that complement the Level 3 Adult Offer as part of the National Skills Fund.
Plan a contactless flow of traffic from entrance, to seating, from ordering to payment, encouraging consumers to pay on card and reduce touchpoints down to a bare minimum.
Get creative and expand the customer experience! You might have experimented with new innovations to generate revenue during lockdown, but these practices don’t have to cease when we ‘go back to normal’. Are they sustainable revenue streams that you can integrate into your plans for the future?
Increase communication channels with customers to inform them about any changes you’re implementing that might affect their experience. If there are communication channels you haven’t explored yet, such as newsletters, social media or website landing pages, experiment with different ways of communicating to see what consumers engage with.
Make social distancing normal. Your venue could benefit from a more private and comfortable arrangement for customers and staff alike, inspired by the necessity to be socially distanced.
Make better use of your space. Could you do with some renovation to modernise, ventilate, and functionalise your business? It could be as simple as installing high speed Wi-Fi in the beer garden to accommodate for people working remotely, but it only takes small changes to keep your business up with the times.
Streamline the customer journey. Make sure moving around the space is as safe and seamless as possible to put the customer at ease and keep the confusion to a minimum. Using clear signage and adequate sanitation, you can put COVID safety procedures into practice clearly and succinctly.
What should business owners consider going forward?
Have a Plan B. What if your key supplier is affected with COVID and unable to get you what you need? Always have a backup plan and stay proactive rather than reactive.
Integrate data and operations via cloud management systems and streamline your network. Sophisticated systems allow you to access real-time data and take better control of your supply.
Financial planning is integral, but difficult in a time where predicting the future is near impossible. However, businesses need to come out of the “survival mode” headspace and into the “sustainable” headspace, analysing and re-evaluating finances and allowing room for change.
Maximise revenue streams by ensuring that the time and effort is worth the return. Figure out what really works for your business and put maximum effort into it.
Use your workforce to the best of their ability. What is the best use of people to support your business? Should you be exploring flexible contracts? Should you be considering a decreased or repurposed workforce? How can you retain top talent and tap into valuable new talent pools? Your workforce is the backbone of your business, so make them a priority moving forward.
Explore skills and workforce development opportunities, particularly via government incentives and funding. GM Skills Map is a great place to start, or you can request a consultation from our advisors or from your local authority to see which part funded and fully funded learning is available for your team.
Keeping employees safe and secure should be top of your list of priorities moving forward. There are government guidelines for best practice available to read online, and health and wellbeing support to keep your team feeling happy, healthy and resilient as we rebuild.
ONS data concludes that of all UK business, hospitality has been the worst hit with 355,000 less employees than the year before, accounting for 43% of the national total. The sector hit has also taken a toll on the traditionally younger demographic of employees, with 78% percent of those leaving payroll employment under the age of 35. But although the statistics are daunting, they also demonstrate the importance the sector holds in the rebuilding of our economy. Innovation should be on the agenda of every business, to ensure that we approach any future crisis with preparedness and proactivity and continue to build back better and differently to how we were before.
Build back different with our help and do #BusinessAbnormal with guidance from our Business Change and Skills experts.
Growth Company Resources
The Growth Company is an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to enable growth, create jobs and improve lives. We provide individuals and businesses with a wide range of services that improve employment, skills, investment and enterprise for the benefit of all, and have been working in the Greater Manchester city region for more than 30 years.
This project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.
The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme.
Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.