On Saturday the 31st October, the government delivered the worst news to the beleaguered hospitality industry. In efforts to slow down the spread of coronavirus across the UK and therefore reduce the pressure on our health service hospitality, the Prime Minister declared that all restaurants, bars and pubs must close on Thursday 5th November except for takeaway and delivery. You can deliver both food and alcohol now after a government turnaround.
To date other than the welcomed news of the extension of the furlough scheme until 2nd December there has been no indication of further support, which is disappointing.
We’ve quickly put together these thoughts for you by recycling some earlier blogs on how you can best prepare and protect your business and staff, as you prepare to close down again?
The New York Hospitality Alliance has shared a checklist for closing down your venue. Although it’s American it’s still relevant for the global market and can easily be modified to suit your needs. It can be found here
1. Business contingency planning
You have probably done this a million times over the last few months. However, start by looking at your budgets and cutting out any unnecessary spending straight away. This should be your first port of call. In your planning, prepare for four different scenarios:
– 100% closure for four weeks
-100% closure for eight weeks
– Staying open for takeaway and delivery for four to eight weeks
– Reopening at 50% capacity from January to March
Part of your planning should involve thinning as many overheads as possible, by reviewing rotas and checking staff contracts. If they contain lay-off clauses these can be utilised, and non-profitable hours and days can be cut. Communicate with staff as fully as you can, as they will be impacted by changes to their hours and pay.
Ensure your HR files are up-to-date with staff contact details and that emergency contact numbers are correct. You should also check you have a record of any staff health issues on file.
Check managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes. For example, sickness reporting, sick pay and procedures, in case someone in the workplace develops the virus.
Plan for staff absences, as current suggestions indicate that a fifth of your workforce could be off ill at any time.
Keep up to date with advice on the ACAS website.
Provide clear advice so that any employee presenting with symptoms knows what to do immediately. Have a designated staff member to report any COVID-19 related absences to.
Insurance: The High Court has handed down its judgment in a test case brought by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on whether a sample of business interruption (BI) insurance policies provide cover in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The court found that some, but not all, of the ‘disease’ and ‘denial of access’ clauses in 21 sample non-damage BI insurance extensions provided cover, depending on the detailed wording in each case and the effect on the insured business. It also ruled that the Covid-19 pandemic and the government and public response to it were a single cause of covered loss, required for claims for which the policy provides cover to be paid. Therefore do check the status with your insurance company.
Within your policy, you may also have event cancellation insurance, which can be claimed if you have to cancel weddings and other planned or booked events.
Mortgages and loans: If you have loans or mortgages, put in a call to your bank or building society. If you haven’t had a loan or mortgage repayment break before, now might be a good time to ask for one. If you had had one then no harm in asking again.
Government Support: So far the only support announced is the continuation of the furlough scheme at 80%. Make sure you put as many staff as you possibly can on furlough.
2. Staff welfare
Communication: Ensure your staff are kept up-to-date with your plans as they emerge. If you are going to close your business temporarily give them as much notice as you possibly can.
Postponing meetings: Defer any non-essential meetings, such as appointments with suppliers, staff meetings or team building events. It is also worth considering cancelling staff attendance of planned conferences or large events.
Sick pay: Advise staff of your sick pay policy and what they are entitled to. Remember this may vary from your normal policy, based on the additional government support you may be entitled to.
- Business Crime, Property Safety and Security
- Test your alarm ensure it is monitored and fully operational with a list of up to date key holders given to any alarm monitoring company.
- Identify vulnerable areas and plan to put extra protection on them, ensure security gates, bollards and fire exits are secure
- Ensure internal doors are closed and locked
- Remove high-value items and cash, and put a note on the outside to advise that this is the case
- Consider light timer switches
- Consider the risk of arson and remove anything flammable from view
- Buy a talking CCTV point and download a relevant CCTV phone app and connect to your CCTV.
- Remove high-value items and cash and put a note on the outside to advise that this is the case, especially alcohol.
- For food premises
DIG has some useful tips on closing your food facilities, including turning off the gas to the cook line, if refrigeration units are empty cleaning and unplugging them, and turning off hot equipment. For more details visit the DIG website.
You can keep up to date with the latest advice on securing your premises on the following sites:
- Safer Business Network – Their Covid-19 Portal has links to the MET Police, Fire Brigade and Met Police Business Crime Hub.
- Secured By Design – Official Police Security Initiative has details on ‘designing out crime’ and products that can help secure your premises.
- Alcohol premises
You can now sell alcohol which is great news, however, it must be pre-ordered via online, telephone, or email, it can be collected but must not be picked up inside your venue, or delivered. However, you may still want to consider
- Stock: Depending on whether you are going to fully close or remain partially open for delivery and takeaway, start to thin your stock, or if some can be returned to your supplier make arrangements to do so. Cut out any stock carrying or orders that aren’t necessary. In crises, hoarding is not your business friend as this can leave your capital tied up in stock. When difficulty hits, it’s wise to have as many liquid assets as you can. Clean your lines down, no one wants to come back to mouldy lines
- Dispose of any half-opened drinks/wine or gift them to your staff
- If you aren’t doing a delivery model you will have to find a way of repurposing all of your stock, as you won’t want to go back to a pile of mouldy stock and a vermin infestation. Check to see whether you’re in date and unopened stock can be returned to your supplier make arrangements to do so.
- Cut out any stock carrying or orders that aren’t absolutely necessary.
- If you can’t send the stock back then consider online auctions. Online auctioneer John Pye has announced they will consider any stock for free without obligation so you can weigh up your options. This might give you the quickest turnaround on stock sales to unlock much-needed equity to help aid cash flow. In crises, hoarding is not your business friend as this can leave your capital tied up in stock. When difficulty hits, it’s wise to have as many liquid assets as you can.
- Don’t forget that in the last lockdownCAMRA and SIBA launched Pulling Together, publicising the innovative steps that pubs are taking to maintain their business. If you are offering a delivery service or have diversified in another way, you can submit your details online and they will promote what you are doing. If you are a member of a Business Improvement District, contact them to see if they can promote what you are doing, too.
- You can sign up for an initiative called MyPubShop, which enables pubs to trade as food shops offering essential items such as bread, eggs and milk and could give you a valuable income stream. It is powered by e-commerce trading platform StarStock and all surplus income after trading costs are taken out will be donated to the NHS.
Support from trade organisations
The following organisations have put together information and advice on the support available to the licensed trade during the outbreak:
UK Hospitality: A summary of the latest government support and advice is updated at least daily.
The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII): Expert advice on protecting your business through the COVID-19 crisis.
British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA): A comprehensive briefing on COVID-19 and the government’s response.
The Institute of Licensing (IoL): The IoL has published practical advice for licensees and licensing practitioners during this challenging period.
The Licensed Trade Charity: can offer a wide range of support to people who do now or have in the past worked in the licensed drinks trade on a range of issues, including one-off awards and short term hardship payments you can go to their website link above or call 0808 801 0550
Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund: The founders of Tipjar, the peer-to-peer tipping and tip-sharing concept have launched the Hospitality Workers Emergency Fund in partnership with Hospitality Action
We’ll update the blog with further advice and guidance as new developments relating to the Coronavirus emerge. In the meantime, if your business needs support during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Jo on 07734 255807 or email email@example.com