The Ultimate Guide to Reopening your Food Business

The UK government has announced their roadmap and the reopening countdown is on. Now, it’s time to prepare.
Gemma Thomas
Dec 2023
4 min read
food business reopening schedule

As we emerge from restrictions, we can’t just go back to business as usual. Hospitality operations have moved on. Customer behaviour has changed. Our world has changed.

Businesses need to move forward and adapt or face getting left behind.

In this guide we’ll explore the impact of Covid on our industry, and how you can  give your teams the tools they need, so they’re ready when you open your doors.

The impact of Covid on hospitality

The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. Overnight restaurants, pubs and cafes were told to shut down (then reopen, then shut down again).

Business owners have faced a huge blow to their profits. Many have lost their jobs—nearly 80% of workers were furloughed—the highest proportion out of all UK industries. Plus, skilled staff have moved countries or changed industries, so there’s an even bigger skills shortage.

Part of the industry response has been a rush to adopt new digital tools, and pivot online to drive new revenue streams. Here’s what the new normal looks like:

Digital dining experience: new tech processes implemented for food handling, cash management, and customer interactions to reduce transmission.

Shift in labour deployment: head office cuts mean fewer managers. With fewer people to drive action, and more team members needed on the ground for extra covid measures, businesses need to adopt the right tools to bridge the inevitable skills gap.

Safety first: maintaining the highest standards of hygiene will be crucial for customer and employee confidence. Regular, thorough cleaning checks need to be carried out. Face coverings worn by staff, and a robust track and trace system in place.

Plus, with safety regulations continually changing, businesses need to be able to adapt fast without the expense of retraining, reprinting or checking in to make sure things are done.  

Social distancing: distancing measures need to be adhered to, including one-way systems and table service only.  Partitioning large indoor spaces into smaller areas, and investing in outdoor seating.

Online deliveries: demand for food deliveries has skyrocketed, many businesses are pivoting online and starting cloud kitchens to drive new revenue streams.

How to prepare for reopening

Businesses need to adjust to the new normal, rebuild, and enhance operations.

Review your SOP (Standard Operating Procedures)

Start by reviewing what you’re currently doing. Where can you streamline and automate processes to take pressure off your team? How can you do more with less? Create a new and improved operational blueprint to help your busy teams and improve operational efficiency.

Embrace technology

Businesses that can adapt, innovate and adopt digital tools will give themselves the best chance of survival.

The right software can help cut costs, automate time-wasting tasks, drive more sales, and boost customer satisfaction.

Check out this guide if you’re not sure what software is right for your restaurant.

Plan recruitment

Make a plan of action for attracting and retaining top talent. Work on defining and promoting your employee benefits and company culture. And use this time to update onboarding processes—create training videos so new starters can hit the ground running.

Streamline communication

Have a system in place that allows head office to communicate with teams on the ground. So everyone knows what to do and how to do it from day one.

Review brand standards

Old menu and marketing offerings won’t cut it in such a competitive market. Can you improve your brand standards to make sure your customers keep coming back?

Reduce overheads

It’s been a tough year financially. And with social distancing measures in place, businesses are getting less covers. Take a look at your food, staff and admin costs. Can you save time and money by digitising operations?

Not sure? Use our calculator to find out where you can make savings.

Build a positive safety culture

Hygiene and safety are more visible than ever. Help teams see that safety procedures are there to help. Embed safety into everyday tasks, and make sure teams know what to do and are comfortable doing it.

Look after your people

People may be anxious about returning to work—what can you do to make things easier for them? Having clear guidelines and procedures to follow can reassure teams. If you need external support, check out Spill— software that helps support remote employees mental health.

Also think about how you can help your teams adapt as restrictions ease off and safety is in continual flux.

How Trail can help

Trail takes care of all the daily jobs, so you can focus on reopening safely, and giving your customers a good time (heck we all need it).

Do more with less: our digital checklists and forms are designed for speed and simplicity. Teams are more efficient and productive. Managers spend less time chasing and more time supporting their teams.

Improve visibility: notifications and daily reports highlight issues as they happen. Managers can see what’s happening in real-time, resolving issues quickly with less site visits.

Make safety a habit: Health and safety checklists are woven into teams' working day alongside their daily tasks. Safety becomes second nature.

Communicate change: easily turn new procedures into simple digital checklists. Head office can stay on top of changing government guidelines and cascade information to teams on the ground quickly.

Built in training: Help new and returning teams get up to speed quickly by guiding them through their day. Add training videos to tasks so teams know exactly what to do.

Automate processes: Reduce repeat processes with automated tasks and smart hardware integrations, from temperature sensors to smart fridges.

Manage brand standards: communicate your brand standards consistently across your sites/teams/shifts. Make sure everyone is following them every time.

Everything an EHO needs in one place: Trail is a complete historical record of task completion, time and date stamped for accountability.

McManus Pubs customer testimonial

Free digital checklists

Use our best-practice task templates to stay on top of Covid guidelines.

Reopening your sites

New policies checklist

Covid team health check

Employee wellbeing 

Hourly cleaning task

How to wash and sanitise items

Customer service changes

Other useful reopening resources:

Food Standards Agency: Reopening and adapting your food business during COVID-19

Food Standards Agency: Reopening checklist for food businesses during COVID-19

What customers are saying

"I f****** love Trail, it's taking my businesses to the next level."
Josh Paterson
"We rarely provide training to our guys, they just bought into the idea straight away. I love that I have a full visual of everyone's activity in front of me."
Katrin Toots
Compliance Manager
“It’s not a paper diary that’s covered in barbecue sauce. We have clarity over what’s done in our sites and are confident going into our audits.”
Jay Brown
“The EHO visited almost every site last year and every store was given a five star rating."
Jay Brown
Operations Chef
"We turned our Costa Checks and various compliance forms into regular tasks on Trail, which has contributed to some of the best scores we have had."
Delroy Daniels
Operations Director
"Our teams love it, it gives our managers of all levels absolute clarity on what they need to achieve every day."
James Brown
Operations Director

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