Finally, freedom comes to Sydney as cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants welcoming back fully vaccinated customers on the 11th of  October after nearly four months of lockdown. Implications for venue operations? Now it’s the time to re-consider all the components that might help you welcome back your regular guests while operating smarter and always ensuring top-class customer services. 

A hospitality venue is similar to any multi-faceted machine in that all of the pieces must be precisely tuned in for the operation to perform properly. Even though no two venues are identical, they usually have two things in common: the front and back of the house. To be fully prepared for your reopening, you must first have a thorough understanding of the nuances between both sides of your business, and how to increase operational efficiency and always deliver to your customers. 

 

Stand out from your Front of House Competition

The front of house is at the front and centre of your venue; it’s where customers are greeted at the gateway and start enjoying the settings, ambiance, services at your place. The hostess station, bar, restrooms, and, if available, outdoor seating are all included in the front of house (more on this later).

 

Customer service is undoubtedly the most crucial part at the front desk and it’s the key determinant of customer experience and obviously, customer loyalty, which keeps them coming back. Train your front-of-the-house workers on how to excel at providing excellent customer service and to manage complaints in a friendly, respectful manner, and keep calm when dealing with unexpected emergencies. 

 

After lockdowns, the sanitation requirements are even more stringent than ever before, to make sure both your staff, guests and the community are in a safe place. As venue operators, we have to reassure our guests and staff via doing whatever we can to minimise the risks of contact and effectively communicate while providing the best practices to comply with the sanitation rules and bring a better experience to your customers. 

Things to consider for a safer re-opening:  

  • Hand sanitiser station and QR Check-in at entrances 
  • Track record of everyone in or out of your venue 
  • Complying with Face mask rules  
  • Keep social distancing in mind (for both guests and staff) 
  • Deep cleaning routines (as per sanitation rules) 
  • Screening health conditions of your staff  
  • Communicating sanitation measures right 
  • Contactless ordering and payment solutions 

 

After ensuring the heightened hygiene practices, let’s have a think about what can make you stand out. The front of house is where first impressions count. Get everything organised and have the refurbishment done right at your place. It’s the key to get the ambiance right – consider the appropriate music to set the mood, flower arrangements, lightings, table settings to get the environment right. When the ambiance is right, the environment is right, the music is right, and most importantly, the service is right, you’re more like to attract more and more returning guests to come back to your place. 

 

Front-of-house employees serve as liaisons between the kitchen and the visitors, and they are in charge of delivering a memorable dining experience. Build your all-star crew to deliver exceptional customer services to their expectations, every single time.  

To always deliver to your customers, you need a robust team of:  

  • General managers (sometimes venue managers) are usually in charge of the entire restaurant workforce, including both front and back of house employees. They spend the majority of their time in the dining room, ensuring that everything is in order. 
  • Front of House Manager: The FOH manager reports to the General Manager and is in charge of all front-of-house employees. They are in charge of hiring new personnel, creating shift schedules, and dealing with client complaints, among other things. They record the day’s earnings at the end of the workday. 
  • Servers are the ones that engage with visitors the most, so it’s of the utmost importance to train your crew properly. To answer inquiries and give suggestions, they should have a complete understanding of the ins and outs of your venue & the food (of course).  
  • Food Runners: Food runners stand outside the kitchen window and carry orders under the instruction of the expeditor to ensure that food is serviced straight to clients as soon as possible. They engage with visitors and should be familiar with the menu as well as willing to accommodate special requests such as drink refills, extra condiments, silverware, and other items. 

 

It will be much easier for you and your staff to tackle the reopening of your restaurant if you have a clear strategy in place. Bear in mind all the boxes you need to tick: How are you going to set up your table? How many employees do you require? What does your cleaning schedule entail? Are you going to have a lunchtime opening? How to accommodate takeaway and dine-in orders? In these uncertain times, you might always need to adapt to changes as you get on. 

 

Educate your customers and communicate it right. As an essential component of your re-opening strategy, you need to always reassure your customers that you’ve done all the efforts to make sure sanitation measures are in place to ensure they’re dining in a safe place. This should be communicated in an explicit way throughout your point of sale, by prominently displaying signages, posters, questionnaires, guidelines as well as verbally reassuring your customers by your staff.

How you clean your restaurant, ordering and paying procedures (better be contactless), and make sure there is enough space between tables. By clearly explaining all those changes to your customers, such as face mask rules, deep cleaning routines and social distancing,  then they can rest assured to better enjoy your food and services. 

 It may seem to be a bit overwhelming at first, but keep in mind that your guests have been exposed to this type of communication for quite some time so they are ready to accept this ‘new normal’, with your information and guidance on how to navigate through it better. 

 

Excel at your Back of House (BOH)  Operations

The kitchen, hidden behind the dining room, is where the magic happens. This is command headquarters. The manager’s office, pantry and refrigerators, and break room are all located in the back of the home.  

 

Undoubtedly the bar of food safety and sanitation requirements has been raised with the impact of COVID-19 and it’s a key criterion to determine a restaurant’s capability to deliver excellent customer services while ensuring the heightened food safety standards. Because any contact with food happens in these areas, all staff members who operate in these areas should be trained properly to meet the strengthened food safety and sanitation requirements. 

 

Accuracy, efficiency and customer expectations are the key things to keep in mind while running your back of house side of the business. Also, communication is obviously one of the most important parts of your kitchen that keeps orders coming in on time. We heard you, and we’ve been talking to our clients, peers and partners in the hospitality and Food & Beverage industries to solve their problems. Developed by hospitality experts, our extensive Back of House solutions can solve all the aforementioned problems simply at the touch of a button.  

 

Restaurants that reopen following the lifted COVID restrictions might be confronted with difficulties they haven’t encountered previously. Shortage of skilled staff (and recruiting), unclear guidance on vaccination mandates, ever-changing customer preferences, heightened sanitation requirements…and the list goes on.  What makes it even harder to manage is that in many kitchens, social distancing is nearly impossible. While a bigger restaurant may have a larger space, it will be very quickly staffed by more employees to keep up with the increasing order demand, making it limited again. 

 

Improve communications with your staff and stagger staff arrival times might be able to assist. This would help with social distancing while maintaining a sense of normalcy by allowing for smaller groups of individuals in the room. As teams rotate in and out, team members coming in later will need to pick up where another left off, putting a greater focus on communications between your back and front sides of your restaurant.  

 

We all want things to get back to normal as soon as possible, but the reality is that it will be a long time before that happens, and even then, there will most certainly be a new normal.  In the meanwhile, we must be aware of the aspects we cannot control while concentrating on the ones we can. 

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Hospitality peers, we’re here to help you

It’s been undoubtedly one of the toughest years for the great people in hospitality. But here we can see a brighter future ahead for all of us – one that is paired with great technology, better customer experiences, and a more profitable hospitality industry.

We will work with you to grow your business

H&L POS has been at the forefront of technology in the hospitality and food and beverage industry for over 30 years. We provide Point of Sale with extensive Back of House, and a fully integrated suite of hospitality solutions.

As hospitality people at heart, H&L understands the critical requirements for each food and beverage operation. We have staff in every state of Australia providing direction and advice as you grow and as technology changes. As always, remember that we are here to assist your business in any way possible. Call us at 1800 778 340, or email sales@hlpos.com to discuss your venue’s needs.