How to Manage Your Food and Beverage Business Through COVID-19

Lockdown orders across the country have had to push food and beverage businesses to make difficult decisions about if and how they operate a business during COVID-19 restrictions. As these lockdown restrictions are easing, the food and beverage industry, from coffee shops and food trucks to fine-dining restaurants, are adapting their models to best serve their communities and employees.

We’ve compiled tips — whether you’re already back running a full service or you’re slowly opening up and need to maintain cash flow as restaurants reopen — as well as industry resources to help you manage your business right now.

If you’re looking to shift your business model

Ramp up curbside and delivery

Many food and beverage businesses during COVID-19 are shifting to curbside pickup and delivery to continue serving their communities. If you’ve never provided those options before, there are a couple of ways to set them up: You can work with partners like Deliveroo, or you can quickly set up online ordering and then enable curbside pickup or local delivery.

Create meal kits to sell online

Many people are now working from home, preparing every meal for their kids, trying to avoid crowded grocery stores, and using the COVIDSafe app to stay safe. So why not make it a little easier for them by creating meal kits? You can post about meal kits for pickup or delivery on your Instagram, or include it in an email to customers. The fastest way to get started is to offer meal kits through an online store.

Become a corner store

Sell what you have in stock — and not just prepared items. People are waiting in long lines at the grocery store for pantry items like flour, eggs, and toilet paper; you can help them avoid those lines by selling from your own supply via an online business during COVID-19.

Market what you have

Things have changed and changed quickly. Send your customers an email (and use your social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) to let them know what you’re still serving and when or if there are other ways they can support your employees and business during COVID-19.

Optimise Floor Plans

As restaurants reopen in Australia, it’s important to optimise floor plans for your food and beverage business. Depending on which state or territory you’re in, stages of restrictions can vary from numbers of patrons allowed inside the venue to keeping at least 1.5m between people who are unknown to each other and will help dictate what COVID-19-safe floor plans are for your business. Given these restrictions, using Square’s POS for Restaurants features like Table Management and tap and go payments become a vital part of how to reopen during COVID-19.

Utilise contactless payments

If your food and beverage business has been mainly cash-based, you may be wondering how to get set up with contactless payments and how it can help your business ease out of the COVID-19 crisis. Touch-free payments are transactions that don’t require physical contact between a customer’s form of payment — smart devices or credit cards — and the POS. It’s a safer alternative to magnetic-stripe cards for both security and sanitary purposes for employees and customers.

If you’re still closed until further notice

Promote digital gift cards

Online gift cards can help increase cash flow if you’ve had to close your business during COVID. You can quickly set up an online ordering page for gift cards and then promote your gift cards to loyal customers — who want to show their support.

Create a donations page

It’s hard to ask for help, but we need to come together as a community now more than ever. You can create a donation page on your website or online store for your business during COVID-19 to ask your neighbours and regulars for assistance.

Sell merchandise online

If you have T-shirts, mugs, tote bags, or other merch, encourage people to buy them now when you need the revenue most. You can sell online via an online store, email, or social media. Learn how to start selling online.

Support your staff

Now, it’s especially important to make sure your staff feels supported and safe. Make sure that you are honouring the guidelines of the Australian NES and utilising all safeguards like the COVIDSafe app, coronavirus tracing and social distancing guidelines as restaurants reopen.

Restaurant community resources

Safe Work Australia: A government statutory body with a special hospitality section with guidelines and tips on how food and beverage businesses should operate during COVID-19 conditions.

National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC): A commission created by the Australian government to assist with economic and social impacts of the pandemic; resources include an online planning tool to help businesses during COVID-19.

Restaurant and Catering Australia: An association of owners and operators in the industry sharing the latest news and information to update members during the pandemic.

Australian Retailers Association: A trade association providing resources like reopening guides, tips on how to reopen during COVID-19, and printable signage for retailers to utilise.

Give and Get Local: A directory of businesses offering gift cards that consumers can search by location. To add your business, simply create a gift card ordering page.

Discuss how to adapt and shift your food and beverage business now and in the future in our Seller Community.