Preparing for the Other Side of the V

A recent Business Insider article quoted an NRA survey saying that the Covid-19 crisis has already caused roughly 30,000 restaurants to close for good and estimates that more than 100,000 will shudder in the next month. Let that sit with you for a minute…

I have an enormous amount of sympathy for these business owners and their employees. They didn’t do anything to cause this and even those who planned for disasters probably didn’t take a scenario like this seriously (What would we do if there was a worldwide quarantine where people were ordered to stay home for months? Seriously?). For these people, my heart goes out to you and your team and I hope you’re able to start a new business on the other side of this economic disaster.

This article is focused on the businesses that will still be alive after the quarantines end and life returns to a new normal.

I expect there will be a huge opportunity available for these businesses to fill the void left behind from those estimated 100,000 restaurants that close. Generally speaking, there are still the same number of people in the world needing to eat and there will be 100,000 less choices available. Additionally, these people have been caged up at home for months. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a big spike in the months following the quarantines where people dine out more than usual to celebrate finally getting to leave their homes.

That brings us to the central question of this article: how do you prepare for a potential spike on the other side of this crisis? You definitely need a “survival” game plan but do you also have a parallel “opportunity” game plan to prepare for a spike coming out of these quarantines?

Here are a few examples to consider for your Opportunity Game Plan:

  • Workforce: prepare in advance for a spike in re-hiring your workforce. Re-hiring the employees who were furloughed or let go is a given but will you potentially need more employees? If yes, can you get a head start interviewing candidates?
  • Inventory: assuming there is a spike in dine-in traffic after the quarantines are lifted, is your supply chain prepared to meet this demand?
  • Locations: identify optimal locations that may become available due to other businesses closing their doors. Can your store development team get a head start talking to landlords about new locations expected to come on the market?
  • Operations: start preparing for the social distancing requirements that will inevitably be imposed by governments to minimize the continued spread of the virus.
  • Technology: are you already leveraging kiosks, order at the table, pay at the table, or touch-less payment technologies? If not, do your current technology vendors have these capabilities that could be implemented quickly? While we don’t know what the social distancing requirements will be, we can make some assumptions and start laying the foundation in advance.
  • M&A: instead of letting a restaurant close its doors, can you offer them a lifeline and acquire them instead? This can be a great way to pick up a new location and group of talented and motivated employees.

These are just a few high-level examples of areas to target in your Opportunity Game Plan. This game plan should be just as thorough as your Survival Game Plan.

It is important for our economy to recover rapidly and minimize the impact of this crisis. How can your company prepare in advance to not only seize the opportunity for growth but also to do your part in helping to restore the labor market and meet the needs of your customers who will be eager to return to dining out in a big way?