How can restaurants effectively adapt to new social gathering guidelines?

covid restaurant

The government has announced that as from Monday 14th September, groups of more than 6 people will not be permitted to meet at home, in outdoor spaces or in pubs and restaurants.

In an effort to control the spread of Coronavirus, anyone who breaks this rule could be fined, with penalties ranging from £100 to £3,200. For restauranteurs, this has created a new wave of uncertainty and confusion; what does this mean for them? How can restaurants effectively and safely protect their employees and customers?

My name is Darren Diamond and I’m the founder of Crakos, a new restaurant management system. We help restaurants to streamline and enhance their internal processes, using forward-thinking technology to meet the ever-changing demands of customers.

As Covid-19 has left Brits more reliant on technology and take-outs than ever before, it’s become increasingly crucial that restaurants adapt. To find success, we must re-evaluate and consider new ways by which we can deliver exceptional standards of customer service.

Restaurants needn’t feel overwhelmed by these new restrictions, nor should they feel an impending sense of doom. We can all easily maintain a productive level of business in accordance with current guidelines – a few changes simply need to be made along the way. For example, as the government encourages us to socially distance and eat out in smaller groups, it’s important that you show compliance with this, adapting however you can – including with your take-outs.

As an increasing number of Brits come to favour the ease and security of takeaways, you may find yourself having to navigate an influx of collections… the last thing you want is a queue forming at your door, or a bustling group of customers waiting in your entrance – this misses the point. Whilst addressing your in-house policies and protocols is of paramount importance, your efforts must be comprehensive.

To ensure that your takeaway processes are streamlined and safe, consider sending your customers notifications when their meal has been made in the kitchen. If your chefs are able to send live notifications upon completing an order, then you can ensure that they’re ready and waiting to be collected – no standing around, no queues.

Similarly, it’s crucial that your team provides accurate insights into how long the preparation of an order is likely to take. This will help to ensure that your customers don’t feel inpatient, rushing to wait for their order at your premises; instead, they’ll be able to predetermine when they’ll need to arrive, allowing for staggered collections.

I would note however that adding a general ’30-minute wait’ tag to every order won’t achieve your desired outcome – these updates need to change in accordance with how busy your restaurant is and, above all else, they need to be accurate, otherwise your customers will simply ignore them.

For example, Crakos allows waiters and waitresses to update predicted wait times at the click of a button; if the kitchen is particularly busy, you can make wait times longer. If you’re having a quieter period, you can let your customers know that their food will be prepped in 15 minutes. This will make every part of your take-out service more efficient.

When it comes to your eat-in diners, adhering with these guidelines is vital; failure to do so could result in hefty fines, dissatisfied customers and could irreparably tarnish your reputation. Covid-19 has left the country in a state of uncertainty meaning that reassurance and consideration are values you must prioritise.

First and foremost, it’s of course important that you only allow groups of up to 5 people to sit together in your restaurant – that need not be extended upon. Then, you must socially distance these tables, ensuring that there’s larger gaps in between. If you’re able to, you could also invest in plastic or glass screens to place in-between tables.

To avoid your customers unnecessarily crossing paths, you could also consider printing directions on the floor. Arrows show your customers where they’re meant to go (for example to enter and exit the toilets or leave the restaurant) without any risk.

You also need to consider your staff, allowing members of your team to work at a distance from one another. Meanwhile, your employees of course need to continue wearing masks or face shields.

Allow your team to place food and drinks at the ends of tables and encourage your staff to wear gloves. In accordance with new guidelines, I would also advise that your staff remain vigilant to the size of groups and plan ahead strategically; allow for longer time periods between bookings of the same table, ensuring there’s no cross over whilst providing ample opportunity to carefully clean the area down.

If you’re particularly concerned about following the government’s new guidelines, then you could decide to only book tables of up to four people. In doing so, you’re avoiding any possible mishaps or grey areas. You could also offer incentives for groups of 5-6 people to opt for takeaways instead, creating group discounts for example.

This will show that you’re supporting the local community and the intentions of these new guidelines, something which will help to protect your ongoing success.

Technology is often seen to be a daunting concept; what steps should you be taking? How is it best approached? There are a handful of fundamental components you need to consider post-Covid – if you’re looking to get started, I would suggest you start with these. More specifically, allow your customers to order online and embrace digital menus.

The purpose of these new guidelines is to prevent the spread of a virus that can survive on materials like cardboard for days; if you want to support these measures then all of your processes must be honed in such a way as to prevent the virus from reaching any of your customers. From your physical social distancing efforts to your tech-driven offerings, in-house procedures and overall approach to business, nothing can go amiss.

On Monday the 14th the government’s new social gathering guidelines will undoubtedly impact the world of hospitality. Large groups will not be able to eat out and further steps will need to be taken to ensure that the needs of staff and customers are met. However, by embracing technology every process can be made more efficient.

Crakos is one platform that has been created to fulfil this purpose, supporting every restaurant’s efforts to reduce stress, improve results and manage social distancing. Encourage your customers to embrace takeaways, avoid delays and you’ll find the next few months to be a hurdle that you can overcome.