Here we are once again, although it is not quite the same as Lockdown 1.0. In March we were all in it together, it was a complete unknown and there was a collective experience that we shared, and we supported each other through.
Lockdown 2.0 is not this. Too many businesses and individuals have been treated differently depending on where they live and what support they have been able to access. There is a sense of unfairness, jealously and fatigue. It has been 9 months of living with uncertainty and that is a lot for us all to deal with. I feel this right now.
As a consultant who should have the answers to help businesses grow and succeed, the need to project confidence when I have felt anything but at certain times has been challenging.
Social media can be uplifting, but it can also be damaging. The pressure on us to ‘perform’ and show that we are still happy and successful is wearing thin and I believe it is actually damaging to our mental health. It reminds me of how we collectively used to ignore problems instead of talking about them. This is hard right now and we should be free to talk openly about our current situation and share the good and the bad.
With this in mind, I have put together three key areas that I would like you to think about and put into practice.
Regroup, Recharge and Rebound.
I hope these will allow you space and time to acknowledge that 2020 was not what any of us planned and to allow you to plan and reshape your business and our wider industry for a better 2021 and beyond.
As we start week two of this lockdown, whatever your current situation is, give yourself time to work out what is the best financial option for your business. If it makes sense to close and furlough all your staff, do it. If you can open on certain days and not others, then do this. If you need time to work out what you need to do, then give yourself that time and access the flexible furlough scheme that is on offer right now to be able to have that time to plan.
Hopefully, we will be back open in early December, but we still have no idea what we will be returning to after Lockdown. This is normally the busiest time of year for so many businesses, but it is hard to see how that will be so this year. This is temporary. It sucks, but it will improve. If you can see a path forward to be open in December, then spend these next few weeks wisely.
What will your offer look like? What new products or seasonal offers can you put in motion today for your reopen? What training do you or your staff need moving forward? What new suppliers can you reach out to for future relationships? Does Brexit affect any area of your business? If so, what do you need to do to get ready for this?
If you can plan for now and the future, hopefully these actions will allow you to relax a little more, knowing that you are taking control of what you can.
With the long dark days, it is harder to stay upbeat, so taking care of yourself during these next few months is more important than ever. Think of key actions and commitments you can make to yourself that do not revolve around your business, but instead focus on self-care. Things like a daily walk, light and restorative exercise you can do in your home, such as yoga, stretching or mobility. Join the mediation club, just 10 minutes a day or every other day really does help calm your mind.
I have found speaking to like-minded industry people has been so helpful during these difficult few months. Speaking and hearing from other business owners or those working in the same industry has both given me hope, but also acknowledgment that we are all in this together. Sharing your struggles and successes can be so helpful not only for yourself but for others too. It makes problem solving easier and you never know where a conversation will take you. (Insert BT moto here 😊)
This is hopefully the fun bit. When we no longer have to talk about Covid and we live in a future where we can be near people again.
What do you want your business to look like? What are the areas you want to improve? What lessons can we take from this traumatic experience that will enhance our working life and those that work with us?
It is my hope that we look to the future with a newfound respect for life and that we work towards rebalancing our lives and businesses so we can positively impact our communities.
The Hospitality industry is going to look very different in 2021. There has been a shift of mindset in the consumer and businesses will need deliver to these new desires.
Community, local, collaborative, comfort and quality are a few key phrases that come to mind. What do you offer that will make you stand out from your competition? What can you bring in that will not only add value to your customers, but will also increase sales?
I am sure the future of the 9-5 office job is going to look very different, with a hybrid, flexible approach to working, which is exciting. It will allow people to live and work in their communities, which in turn will bring greater and new opportunities to future entrepreneurs.
The future is uncertain, but taking charge of key areas will help give you focus and allow you to chart a way forward.
With the latest statistics collected from a survey conducted by The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) showing the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants is causing significant losses in turnover, restaurateurs and publicans are going to have to get creative to survive this winter period.
It should be no secret by now, the UK is a nation of coffee drinkers and regardless if you are a pub, restaurant, or bar you need to have a strong coffee offer. If you do not, you are missing out on potential to increase your turnover.
No longer can you afford to offer your customers a sad, poorly made, unloved cup of coffee. Or even worse, no coffee at all. Customers have too many better options available to them. They just won’t come back and will spend their money someplace else.
With a few small changes to your menu, your bar set-up and a perhaps a small investment, there is great potential to recoup some of the losses currently being seen.
Think about it, you’re already paying rent 24 hours a day, so why not open the doors earlier to reach a new audience.
Where is your business situated? Look at your location and research the surrounding areas and residents buying habits.
Regardless if you are in a town, city centre or village, if you have a strong coffee offering you will be able to bring people in. You just need to do some research to make sure your offer matches your audience.
For example, for more rural pub locations, what local clubs or organisations exist in the surrounding villages that you can reach out to? Think books, arts, writing, running, yoga or cycling clubs. Offer your location as a pre or post destination for them. Because of the rule of 6, you will be limited in some ways, but reach out regardless. Ensure you have take-out as an option too. If you are linked to walking or hiking trails, you’re onto a winner.
Restaurants, you most likely have larger, enviable venues that make it easier for social distancing. If you do not currently offer breakfast service, why not? You have all the tools in place to bring in this crowd. Start simple, with great coffee and great pastries and build from there. This requires very minimal changes or increased costs.
Invest in training your staff to understand how to make a consistently delicious cup of coffee. Look at your equipment, in particular your grinders. Making a small investment here will improve your product and productivity.
There is a reason why the UK’s coffee scene has grown year-on-year for the past two decades. Coffee shop owners are constantly evolving and improving their coffee offering to keep ahead of the competition and entice new and repeat custom. And we just love it.
Successful coffee shops invest in the raw product, their equipment, their ambience, their staff and their collaborative offering. Their social media game is strong too – pictures of pretty cups of coffee are easy to share on Instagram.
Sadly, Pubs, restaurants and bars have lagged behind for a number of years and should now, more than ever, look to the coffee pioneers to learn from them and adapt alongside them.
There are 100s of talented, independent roasteries across the UK that you could work with to bring great and unique coffee offering to your venue, as well as barista trainers and consultants that can bring their expertise to your industry.
Take this opportunity to review your current coffee set-up, there will absolutely be areas where you can improve. If you are unsure where to start, get in touch and we can have a no obligation conversation about where you are at right now and what you could do to improve your offering.
This year has not quite planned out how we expected, right? But all is not lost. If your plans to open a coffee shop were rudely haulted due to this pandemic, have you considered the simpler option of starting a mobile coffee business instead?
As we move into the last quarter of this year, it’s hard to imagine what else 2020 will throw at us, but one thing we know for sure, Brexit is coming and it’s a whole big dollop of more unknown.
With so much uncertainty, it’s hard to know what the right response is, but what I do know, you need to be fighting against the tide to ensure your hopes and dreams are not washed away.
That is not to say you should plough ahead with the same plans you had at the beginning of the year. A lot has changed, and it is absolutely prudent to take stock and adapt to our new world.
With the furlough scheme ending in October and the cuts to VAT finishing early next year, and the constant threat of a potential second wave, only then will we know the true cost of this pandemic on our hospitality industry. That doesn’t mean there are not good opportunities out there for the tenacious, the brave and the financially astute.
So, what plans did you have for 2020? With the UK’s booming and still growing coffee scene, you may have been thinking to get a slice of the pie. Whether that was starting your first coffee shop or looking down the micro-roastery route, both these options, if done well, are great businesses to have.
Although things look very different today, people’s love of coffee has shone through. When lockdown was lifted on July 4th, the most popular places to visit after seeing family and friends, were coffee shops.
So, if that dream is still alive, one area that I believe is worth a lot of consideration is a mobile coffee business. In fact, there are countless of now established cafes and coffee roasteries that started their journey this way.
Obviously, we have the unreliable British weather to contend with, but weather aside, in this Covid World, I believe businesses should be adapting to prioritise outdoor service.
You only have to look to the countryside pubs with their beautiful beer gardens doing so well this summer, to understand that we all feel safer being outside right now. So why not propose the perfect solution to these consumer buying habits and start a pop up or mobile coffee business?
There are a lot of positives to consider. The much lower overheads, both at start-up level and on-going. Fewer staff needed and greater flexibility in your location – in fact, not being tied to a physical space longer-term allows you to experiment with your audience and your offer, adapting both to maximise your turnover.
In a recent survey carried out by The Allegra Group, 34% of people contacted said they still felt unsafe visiting a coffee shop and 93% said social distancing was their preferred method of mitigating the risk of catching coronavirus.
It is no surprise. For 5 months we were told it was not safe to go out. It takes 3 months to learn a new habit, so we have had more than enough practice to learn that going out and socialising as we once did, is still not safe. That is going to take quite some time to undo, especially without the safety-net of a vaccine.
You will no doubt have seen the rise in community focus. People are interested in where they live again. Local councils and organisations are pushing for more pedestrianised areas to encourage consumers to come back to restaurants, pubs and cafes, but sitting outside.
I have no doubt that outdoor markets will be back better than before – with a focus on local, independent stalls. Food and drink were a huge source of stress relief and happiness during lockdown. More and more people are understanding what great coffee is and where to buy it online, but they still miss buying a beautifully crafted coffee, made by a talented and friendly barista. We are social creatures after all – we still crave conversation and community.
With mobile coffee set-ups there are a number of things that you will have to take into consideration that you wouldn’t normally have to – power and water solutions being the main ones.
Your coffee bar set-up is another – will you be serving out the back or from inside? Not forgetting the weather again, I mean its Britain. It is going to rain and it will be cold in the winter, but where’s your sense of adventure? If you have not experienced the challenge of dosing ground coffee in the wind, you haven’t lived.
There are of course still risks involved in any new venture, but why not test the water with a lower risk venture such as a mobile unit? With endless options for your vehicle and set-up, you can truly customize your business to suit your budget.
Is mobile for you?
If you focus on the coffee and the service, you will be setting up for success. Just because it is a mobile coffee shop does not mean you cut back on those crucial elements. Treat this mobile coffee business as seriously as you would a highstreet café.
If you’re just Starting Out, The Coffee Consultancy can help you. We would love to hear about your plans and how we can make them a reality.
Contact Louise today.