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Mon 2nd Nov 2020 - Opinion Special: Ten-point strategy plan for second lock-down

Ten steps for a smart lock-down strategy by Malcolm Muir

As hospitality operators prepare to go into another lock-down, businesses must rely on tighter controls to minimise losses and ride out the waves of continued uncertainty. 

The positive news is that operators can draw strength from the “lessons learned” following the lock-down in March. Operators should follow these steps to ensure they are ready to return to making a profit when the tide turns. 

Prepare a lock-down checklist 
1. Every hospitality business should have a lock-down contingency plan containing a set of close-down procedures; a complete checklist of everything you need your sites to do before, during and after you close shop. These should address any problems that were raised during and after the lock-down in March too. Contacting suppliers that will take returns of stock should also be one of those procedures.

Monitor completion of lock-down tasks 
2. The more sites you oversee, the bigger the challenge to ensure that every site has taken the necessary steps to prepare for lock-down and minimise overall losses. Underperforming sites will drag down your overall GP and, therefore, need immediate correction. Compliance monitoring of close-down procedures across an estate should thus form a key part of your lock-down strategy. 

Expand your circle and help each other
3. Reinforce relationships with people in the industry before and throughout lock-down. As travel is limited, take virtual tours of the area online, join local forums and discussion groups. These can be great platforms for gathering ideas on how to get through lock-down, support your supply chain and help each other. Are there businesses nearby that plan to sell takeaways during lock-down? Could they take some of your shorter-dated stock in a safe and covid-secure manner? Alternatively, are there local charities that you could help? 

Complete a close-down stock take or stock count 
4. Before you close shop, you need to know exactly how much stock on hand your sites hold. If you are not able to do it on the day you close the doors, completing one as you enter lock-down will also suffice. Whatever you do, do not skip your close-down stock count because it will make it impossible for you to identify levels of shrinkage endured during lock-down once it’s over. 

Carry out an inventory count
5. Get detailed data on all your storage areas. Inventory checks will ensure you know right from the outset exactly how much stock you’ll be writing off during lock-down, what you’ll be able to sell upon your return and how much you’ll need to order upon reopening.

Perform a detailed cash count
6. Do a full float and safe check upon lock-down. It may be a good idea to reduce the float or bank all cash in order to eliminate any risk of loss. A full third-party cash and float check allows you to assess any variations from expected revenue income and present the reality of your cash on hold position nationally.

Don’t neglect beer disposal and line checks
7. Complete beer and line checks at your sites to verify what scale of beer waste your venues will face. Equally important are checks made on waste management and compliant disposal of beer, by considering whether the correct processes were followed at your sites. 

Step up security 
8. Ensure the right individuals hold the keys to your stock, cash and banking. Now, more than ever, you need to make sure responsible individuals and their supervisors are briefed to lock up all valuable stock and finances. Make sure your strategy outlines which individuals are authorised to attend sites and access these areas.

Use the time effectively
9. Lock-down can be tough mentally, especially if it’s your own business with plans for the future at stake. Keep busy and make good use of the time personally. You have a chance to open as a better business than before. Were there weaknesses in the business that need to be addressed? Take this time to breathe and focus on future goals. Invest time in a training plan for staff, tidy up neglected areas of the business, or reach out for your painting overalls and get stuck in. 

Prepare a reopening checklist
10. Make sure that once a lock-down is lifted, your sites can return to business as usual as soon as possible. Don’t forget to plan a social media campaign to keep customers engaged and aware of your reopening date and offer. Have a list of all suppliers to hand and note which ones need to be contacted first upon reopening. Arrange for all eventualities, thinking through every scenario and establishing plans B and C where necessary too. 

Operators looking to get through lock-down with minimal losses should visit for further information.
Malcolm Muir is consultancy director at Venners
Venners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

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