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Reopening Your Establishment After the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 26, 2020

We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great strain on your business and has forced many of you to get creative with your offerings during this unprecedented time. You have thought on your feet and done everything you could to help your establishment, your employees, and your dedicated customers get through this tough time. Video gaming in Illinois resumes July 1st, so you might need some guidance for how to reopen your establishment.

Communicate with Your Staff

If your establishment closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, then you might not have kept in close contact with your employees. As you begin to re-open, start to reach out to your employees through email, text, call or video conference. Even if you do not have new information to share every day, it helps keep your staff connected and feeling prepared to return to work.

When you have a definitive reopening date, you may have new policies and procedures that will need to be implemented. If you can, start preparing your staff before you reopen. Use those modes of communication to start training now, so employees feel secure in new procedures when you reopen.

Unfortunately, some of your staff might not return after this time off, so take some time to make sure you still have enough coverage in all areas and shifts.

Don’t Ditch New Business Ventures…

Many locations had to get creative during the pandemic. Establishments that had previously not offered carry-out and delivery had to adjust their business to meet these new demands. Locations that needed an injection of cash were now offering gift cards to dedicated patrons who wanted to help. When your establishment is back up and running, do not completely abandon these new enterprises.

As things begin to open back up again, it may take some time for your establishment to bounce back. Gift card sales can offer a nice cushion to help offset expenses that arise when reopening. Many patrons have gotten used to the convenience of carry-out or delivery services, and may feel more comfortable with these measures as we return back to normal from time in self-quarantine.

If your location can support it, offering carry-out/delivery or selling gift cards can help meet customers’ current needs. If you need help with getting started on how to sell gift cards at your establishment, please fill out this form  here.

… Or Put New Measures in Place

If your establishment has not been open during the shutdown, you may have some adjustments to make. You will likely need some sort of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for employees such as gloves or masks. Additional cleaning materials and hand sanitizer will need to be easily accessible to staff and customers. As soon as you can, reach out to vendors to see what supplies you can obtain.

Create a social distancing policy to communicate to customers and staff. If you can, plan on adjusting kitchen workstations to open up more space per employee. In areas where customers will be present, redraw your seating plan for bar stools, high tops, tables, or any other seating present in your establishment. Marking these new positions on the floor will help you picture the new seating plan and will act as a reminder for your customers and staff to continue to practice social distancing.

Maintain Communication with Customers

Keep in contact with your customers as you prepare for reopening via social media or an email list. Let patrons know when you’re opening and what has changed in relation to your business. Your day-to-day operations post pandemic will likely change, especially related to cleaning and other sanitation concerns. If your establishment is limiting the number of dine-in customers, or is offering contactless carry-out, share that! Many guests may still be wary to return to their favorite locations, so any information that can help put patrons at ease is helpful. 

As soon as you have helpful information, share it with your customers to start to generate buzz before reopening. Contacting your customer list at the appropriate time will be essential.

Things Take Time

When your establishment reopens, things won’t immediately go back to how they were pre-coronavirus. As an establishment owner, it is your and your staff’s job to try and make all patrons comfortable. Maintain a strict cleaning regimen and keep social distancing protocol where necessary.

It might not feel like it, but this will pass, and business will pick up. With this being said, it is critical to accept that things might not necessarily “go back to normal.” Almost every aspect of our world has changed, and we have to be willing to change our mindset and accept that there is going to be a new normal.

Download COVID-19 GraphicsPlease see the FAQ document from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission on Restore Illinois Phase 3 guidance. This guide contains useful information on outdoor service regulations, steps to apply for a special use permit for outdoor service, as well as other helpful information as we enter Phase 3. Resumption protocols from the Illinois Gaming Board can be found on their website.

Accel is here to assist your location any way we can. We are keeping the lines of communication open and will continue to pass along any new information as it materializes. Please click here to view latest updates.

Sources:

https://upserve.com/restaurant-insider/reopening-restaurant-after-coronavirus/

https://www.wasserstrom.com/blog/2020/04/17/reopening-a-restaurant-a-practical-guide/

https://www.barbusinessowner.com/

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