With hospitality businesses experiencing a huge growth in coronavirus cancellations of up to 80 per cent at the height of the gardening season, Malcolm Scott Consultant’s catering expert Andrew Burton shares his tips for presenting your hospitality business positively during the current crisis in garden centres and farm shops.
All of these options need to be highlighted across all your media channels, whatever the level – via social media, on site and at your entrance. Getting customers to read what you are doing will be difficult with the overall journalism space on social media being filled with worldwide news, but you have to shout what you are doing – otherwise why do it?
The customer base garden centres and farm shops have is a loyal one, it’s not time for marketing or promotions, but it is time to shout service, quality and care – care for your customer, care for your staff and care for your business. We are all in this together and together we will remain stronger.
Many restaurants are already taking measures to preserve their businesses through the coronavirus downturn, including temporary closures, launching delivery and takeaway services, and encouraging people to buy vouchers to redeem later. Our industry should not be on the backfoot and the locations of the garden centres and farm shops we have create added incentive to the customer. The open air, rural environments many of our centres offer create a venue to lower the stir crazy mind, and working with the customer it can be done in a positive and practical way both in support of the government advice and business needs.
Data captured this past week has allegedly seen hospitality businesses in cities across the UK report a decline in footfall between 20 per cent and 59 per cent on Saturday. OpenTable data shows a year-on-year fall in number of diners across the country of up to 29% over the last week.
Andrew added: “I have been all over the country this past week and have witnessed varying levels of trade, whilst also seeing some real opportunities to do something to help the customer. I was in Chester this weekend and the daytime trade on Saturday was electric, however the evening seemed quiet to me. Earlier in the week, my hotel breakfast near Southend had just three people sat down to eat, whereas the same restaurant was full last time I stayed there. It may be a coincidence, but it is something that we certainly have to monitor very closely at such a key time of year.”
At the time of writing, pubs and bars across Ireland have been ordered to close, though the same instructions have not been given to cafes and restaurants. While no order has been put in place in England, Scotland or Wales at this time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised the public to avoid non-essential travel and to avoid going to pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and theatres.