What you need to be ready – when lockdown ends

September 14, 2021
Paul Rifkin

There’s going to be a huge rush when hospitality reopens. Customers will have cabin fever and will be keen to just get out. So how can we prepare? 

The reality is that home gatherings will probably be banned or limited to small numbers, making family group celebrations challenging. 

That’s where the hospitality industry comes in. Customers will only be able to celebrate family gatherings at venues that can accommodate such numbers under the rules. 

Here is where clubs will become a venue of choice due to their larger catering areas that enable them to still seat larger numbers safely. 

Are you ready for this? Because now is the time to get stuff done.

This is the perfect time to address all the items you spent the last ‘out of lockdown’ period making excuses about because you were too busy or short-staffed. Now is the time to fix, modify, change or simply make those things work. No more excuses.

What is your management style when you’re under the pump?

Being calm and in control is the best style, so how is this achieved?

Planning, training and implementing systems removes the need for undue stress. 

Set up workable food safety systems, then train your staff correctly to get buy-in. Let them own the system, the reason for it and the safety that comes with it for both the customer and themselves. That way it will function correctly, even when business goes crazy. Your staff will become passionate about ensuring it works. 

A solid food safety plan will ensure you are a venue of choice. 

Without pressure, take a look at rostering. Were wages too high? Are staff not as productive as they should be? Are all the chefs on split shifts, and how does that affect your ability to attract good chefs? 

The shortage this time around will be horrendous, based on overseas experiences when they emerged from lockdowns. 

Straight shifts are more productive and can be structured to cover both lunch and dinner or whatever opening hours may be. 

Remember, you can offer work/life balance and still be the venue of choice.

Food costs are creeping up, but customers won’t pay more. Now is the time to look at every menu item and challenge the chefs to think outside the box for recipes. 

Are your menus designed to serve larger numbers efficiently? 

Are they contemporary? Is your coffee on point? 

I had a double espresso ordered by a General Manager for himself and me, and a watery long black came out. He accepted it because he didn’t want to offend a long-term staff member. How many customers never order coffee because of this one staff member? 

Another experience I had recently was when I was waiting to meet with an Operations Manager. The General Manager of the small club walked past me at the entrance, put some flyers out and turned around and walked away. No greeting at all. What is your culture and how observant are all your staff? 

Customer service will be the decider now. What is yours like? Are all guests greeted? Always and by everyone? 

The key is that to get buy-in from staff; they must own it. Just a thought.

Paul Rifkin / chefpaulrifkin consulting / Club mentoring and fine-tuning specialist 

chefpaulrifkin@hotmail.com / www.chefpaulrifkin.com.au

Chef Paul Rifkin


Paul Rifkin

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