Covid-19. It hit us out of the blue but we stood strong, adapted, and weathered the storm. And while we couldn’t predict or prepare for the outbreak, we can prepare for a transition out of it. 

That is exactly the message Employment Minister, Michaelia Cash, has for us. She has told businesses to be prepared and to start creating COVID-safe workplaces so when they’re given the “green light” they’re ready to roll.

And the green light is not too far away. Northern Territory has already announced the return of dining-in on May 15, and other states will soon follow. 

“The virus will still be with us…

(but) as long as we control the spread then we can restart the economy” – Michaelia Cash.

From where we stand, that statement holds two important approaches that need to be addressed: operational and strategic.

Cafes need to create a COVID-safe workplace to control the spread of the virus and also build a COVID-safe business to manage the damage of the virus.

Create a COVID-safe workplace

The best way to prepare for a safe workplace is with a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This will allow you to gather your thoughts, incorporate Government guidelines, and share them with your team clearly.

Below are a few examples of the areas that need to be addressed and the questions that you need to answer:

1) Daily monitoring of your employees’ health with a ‘touchless thermometer’

– Who is responsible for taking the temperature?
– How often will the temperature be taken?
– Where will this be recorded?
– If an employee has a high temperature, what are the steps that need to be taken – and what is your return to work policy?

2) Social distancing measures

– Will there be reduced seating in your cafe?
– What is the maximum number of tables/guests allowed? 
– What is the queuing system for your waiting list?

3) Hygiene practices

– How often will surfaces be disinfected?  
– Will you install hand sanitizers in your cafe?
– Will you discourage cash payments and opt for contactless payments?

Build a COVID-safe business

COVID-19 has been the toughest challenge that we’ve faced as an industry in recent times. While we’ll come out of this stronger, there are impacts of the pandemic that we won’t we able to shake-off. Below are some of these key impacts and lessons we can learn.

1) “Takeout could be a lot bigger than it was”

“The pandemic is going to shift the whole dynamics of the industry…it takes 30 days to create a habit. In the post-Coronavirus economy, takeout could be a lot bigger than it was.”
– Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach.

Burns is absolutely right. Despite upcoming changes to dine-in, it will take time for customers to feel comfortable and safe. This will be paired with a new habitual reliance on takeaway and delivery.

Continue to invest in takeaway menus

So while it may be tempting to pay lesser attention to your online and takeaway menus, it may not be the best move for your cafe. Continue to explore takeaway friendly options like ‘Take & Bake’ to complement your customers’ new behaviour and to gently ease them back to dining-in.

2) Importance of owning your customer data

Building relationships with customers is the root of cafe culture. And the ability for cafes and baristas to beautifully connect with their patrons can appear a lot more effective than blanket marketing efforts.

Maintain connections in a digital space

But what we have learned from the lockdown is the importance of omnichannel touchpoints. While we cannot translate a cafe experience to a digital space, you can use it to maintain connections. And to do that, you need a customer database.

So start collecting and building your database with loyalty and VIP programmes. You can also explore other avenues to gather data such as ordering apps. Some platforms (like Kounta Ordering) let you own your customer data, which you can use to facilitate your marketing efforts.

3) Embracing the world of tech

Tech has been a great generational divide – it’s inviting to some and frightening to others. COVID-19 has changed that. It’s ushered people (regardless of generation) into the world of tech.

The pandemic highlighted the dependence and benefits of tech in a way that’s never happened before. It has facilitated working from home, created contact-free options for daily necessities, and it’ll even keep the virus in check with contact tracing apps like COVIDSafe.

Changes in consumer behaviour

This will undoubtedly alter consumer behaviour. It will soften the resistance of customers who have been opposed to tech, and it will increase the enthusiasm of customers who have been tech-fans all along.

Cafes will see this impact with an increase in customers using apps to pre-order and skip queues, use of e-wallets for payments, and more. So as you re-open, look into digitizing your systems and offerings to keep up with the changes in your customers’ behaviour.

Kounta POS (Point of Sale) provides thousands of great cafes with integrated tech solutions such as fast payments, insights & reports, marketing programmes, and more. Learn about what Kounta can do for your business.   


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