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2020 has been a year like no other. As the owner of a hospitality venue, and a food service business, Commonfolk, we have felt the full force of the lockdowns. Finally, it seems as thought there is light at the end of the tunnel. I believe that for the hospitality industry on the Mornington Peninsula, this summer might shape up to be one of the biggest on record. With interstate and international travel looking increasingly unlikely, case numbers dropping and restrictions lifting, as well as a population desperate to shake off the effects of lockdown, there’s a good chance we’ll be inundated with local tourists like never before. However, it’s not going to be a free for all, and businesses will need to adapt to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded us.

There’s a number of things every hospitality operator should be actioning before summer arrives.

Sort out your digital self

If you aren’t already operating on the cloud, you’re not truly living in 2020. From tiny mobile coffee carts to full service 5 star hotels, you should have an online presence that clearly represents you and your business. Gone are the days when you could get away with a crappy one-page website and a landline. Every hospo business should – at a minimum – have a well presented website with information on what sets you apart, menus and products, how to get in touch, when you’re open and how to get there. You should also be on social media – if your audience hangs out there – and they probably do.

Do yourself an even bigger favour and ensure that your content is high quality and offers value to your customers. Consider paying for a photographer to take a collection of photos that you can drip feed to your consumers across your platforms.

Take care of business

Now that your customers are taken care of, take care of your business.

Stop wasting time handling cash and invoices, scouring through mountains of paperwork and texting rosters out the night before. Find an accountant that can set you up on a cloud based accounting platform to can integrate with a state of the art POS system, receipt recording software, rostering software and any other automation that will save you time and money. There are so many systems designed to work seamlessly with your existing structures and the cost of rolling them out will often be made back within the first few weeks of use.

It’s hard to talk about planning for summer without addressing the elephant in the room. Covid will almost certainly still be around and it will be impacting the way we all operate. Get prepared and have a plan. Thoroughly read through and understand the rules that you will be operating under. How many people will you be allowed to seat? Can you better utilise outside areas? How will you take orders while adhering to social distancing? As frustrating as it may be to enact all the necessary measures, it's an opportunity to invest in your business for the longterm. Move to a POS system that can handle all of your customer sign ins, has a fantastic order in advance app / website, and even order at table capacity. If you’ve ever considered moving to card only, now is your chance, and you’ll save serious time and money handling cash.

Don’t pivot too much

There’s always the risk that you can deviate too much from your core business in an effort to compensate for covid. Make sure that any diversions you make don’t impact your ability to deliver your bread and butter products and service. If adding a delivery arm to your business means that dine-in is compromised down the track maybe scale it back. If selling takeaway jams, preserves and produce has a smaller margin than al la carte food and drink, make sure you’ve properly costed everything to avoid losing money. Ultimately you'll understand your business better than anyone else, so don’t get sucked in to doing what your competitors are doing without first running the numbers. We’re all in business to stay in business.

Finally make sure you apply for every single grant you may be eligible for. Whether it’s the Cashflow Boost or JobKeeper from the federal government or one of the many available from the state, make sure you don’t leave much needed funds on the table. No one likes handouts but given the circumstances you need to ensure your business is optimised to take full advantage of the upcoming busy season.

Best of luck and here’s to a busy Mornington Peninsula summer!