On Friday (07/24), one of CNN’s prominent headlines was: Medical experts urge US to shut down and start over as coronavirus cases surpass 4 million. Before the headline published, some local and state leaders have already returned to earlier reopening phases causing operators’ dining rooms to again go quiet.

While restauranteurs all hope that the worst of the coronavirus’ impact on business is in the past, the future path is full of zigs, zags and danger.  Successful operators will continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best. 

So, what should we do if restaurants shut down again?  

These Things Won’t Serve You

Start with a few actions you should avoid. These behaviors will not serve you, your crew or your business’ success in managing through the coronavirus pandemic and into the next normal

  • Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend like everything is normal. 
  • Don’t worry over and over again without stepping back and making a plan. 
  • Don’t put your customers, crew and community at risk.
  • Don’t forget all the lessons & skills you and your teams learned since March.  

Read through Re-Restaurant 2020: The Restaurant Operator’s Path to the Next Normal.

Kathleen Wood and I collaboratively created the Re-Restaurant Guide to include timeless best practices for every phase of your recovery from restoring yourself to returning to the next normal.  Take a careful look at the advice we offered in the following slides: 

  • Slide 06: Leadership Principle: Faith Conquers Fear
  • Slide 13: Communication is Critical (Especially operations change!)
  • Slide 20: Resolve: Operator’s Action Plan
  • Slide 27: Financial Visibility is the Path to Business Sustainability 
  • Slide 33: Prepare to Address Emerging Concerns in the Return

Proactively Plan for the Possibility if Restaurants Shut Down Again

If you’re anything like me, you waste a lot of time worrying about the same thing over and over again – and then making it worse and worse!  This mental behavior so common it actually has a name: catastrophizing.  Catastrophizing is when you let your mind jump to the worst possible conclusions.  Unfortunately, constantly going through worst case scenarios without taking any action to de-risk factors you can control is a recipe for traumatizing yourself and your crew.  

  • Rest your mindset by re-assessing and re-focusing on what matters most. 
  • Fortify your support network: your team, crew, family and friends. 
  • Talk through scenarios and reason toward solutions. 
  • Write down your “rough game plan” even if it isn’t perfect.  

The Re-Restaurant Guide offers some sample planning templates on Slides 10, 11, 20, 21, 28, 29, 36 & 37. 

5 Steps to Take if Restaurants Shut Down Again

  • Fortify your crew with the highest possible safety standards and quick, clear communication on what to expect as changes take effect. 
  • Fortify operations by getting ahead of to-go, takeaway and delivery supplies.
  • Think about with you need to stop, start and continue if dine-in closes. For example, how would you handle crew pay and furloughs.  
  • Refine your business plan (menu, hours of operation, staffing, etc.) and draft some “transition marketing” collateral that puts you ahead of communicating with customers on your transition from current operations to the next phase. 
  • Re-budget the 2020 Fiscal Year with your best, expected, worst case scenario. 

As you prepare yourself and your business for the future, remember a range of possibilities exist between moving forward through reopening phases and taking steps back.  You’ve been up this mountain before and on your next journey you’ll have more resources and a clearer vision of what’s around the corner.   

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