I wanted to share my thoughts on what 2021 and beyond will hold once lockdown ends and normal life slowly comes back.
1. Demand Outstrips Supply
Lockdown will ease gradually. So in cafes and restaurants, we will see social distancing maintained and the 1.5-2 meter rule in place inside the venue.
What this will cause is for demand to outstrip supply. For the businesses that can hang in there and open when restrictions ease due to limited capacity, there will be more people wanting seats that physically available. So take-away and delivery will remain a key part of the business.
As lockdown eases there will be a massive sense of relief and joy in the population and people will want to experience the things they have missed out on for over a year. That includes going out to sit in a cafe and restaurant.
We won't see a return to 2019 levels but this won't be due to lack of demand it will be due to space constraints and office workers continuing to work from home. So takeaway and quick turnover of tables will be things to work on.
2. Staff Shortage
While it may seem crazy that there will be a staff shortage with so many hospitality staff made redundant in 2020. Those staff may have been turned off the hospitality industry and changed careers elsewhere. A business that kept staff on furlough and kept them motivated and updated will be the beneficiaries of keenness to work. But hiring on the open market may prove tough, with lots of demand but not as many candidates. Wages may rise.
3. More Technology
We will most likely see less table service, more ordering apps, and payment devices either via an app or on the table will become more common. Local deliveries and app orders will grow. They may not be able to get a table but they will still want the experience of eating or drinking from their favourite establishment.
4. Simpler Menus
I see menus getting smaller but what is offered is the best that place does. This allows for a quicker turnaround and to focus on costs and a higher margin. If there are 6 cafes in your neighbourhood how do you choose one? I think becoming known as a specialist at one particular thing is the way forward. If it's great smashed avo, the best donuts, vegan bread, or whatever. Choose one thing you do really well and make that your star product and all your promotions focus on that product.
Now's the time to get prepared for the surge in demand that is coming and adapt so customers feel comfortable when they visit you. People will still be nervous and if you don't make them feel at ease they will go elsewhere.
I wish you the very best for your business.