3 Definite Measures to Ensure your Cafe Survives the COVID-19 crisis

These last couple of weeks have really brought out some amazing qualities within our ZEST community, and we're not just talking about coffee flavour. What has occurred is nothing short of an epic display of resilience and adaptability from our cafe partners. It's so inspiring to be part of such an unstoppable team like you, Coffeekind!

We're thrilled to see so much enthusiasm behind take-away service and rallying to keeping cafe staff and customers safe. We're seeing cafes coming up with innovative and truly caring ways to provide for the shifting needs and concerns of the community. A special mention to The Espressionist in Docklands - you guys are doing fantastic with your take-away family meals!

As always, your cafe's success is our priority. We've had our ear to the ground for every idea and update that could possibly boost and support your cafe's survival through this tricky time. While your competition may still be paralysed by the changes, now is your chance to step out in front and position yourself in a pole position. Be the first to provide the most relevant and valuable menu and services and monopolize as much of your surrounding market as possible. Think not only for the short term but about preparing for another inevitable change, the end of the pandemic.

Like we've said before, tough times never last, but tough people do. We're here for you during these challenges and we're excited for what’s on the other side of the horizon.

Read on to learn the 3 simple but definite tips to ensure you get through the COVID-19 restrictions and stay tuned for more posts on how to be the first cafes to bounce back when this is all over:

ANALYSE AND IMPROVE YOUR CAFE WITH LOW COST, HIGH PAY-OFF IMPROVEMENTS AND REFINEMENTS

The shift to off-premise hospitality is the opportunity you've been waiting for to get stuck into some improvements and upgrades your previously flat-out lifestyle couldn't accommodate. Work from the core out. Take a moment to read over your cafe's mission statement and values. Gather your squad in around you and spend as little as 10 minutes re-iterating the foundations of service, trust and good spirits that holds your cafe together. It’s so important that these values translate into your new take-away business model. No doubt it was the authenticity and that 'something special' your cafe offered that got you the community you have today and no doubt, by sticking to your guns, despite the pressure and change, your spark and drive from day one will carry you through whatever days lie ahead.

While there are many government stimulus packages to assist you financially, as we'll go over shortly, our goal has been to help our cafes work on low to no - cost improvements like work-flow analysis and implementing LEAN principals to increase the overall efficiency of your work place and team, providing a higher level of service and ultimately saving you precious cash off your overheads. Never heard of LEAN? Read more on how we apply the idea of this manufacturing improvement principal to cafes.

If your cafe had previously flourished under a great dine-in menu, all that creativity and collaboration within your kitchen team now needs to be channeled into crafting a unique yet practical and profitable take-away and delivery menu. Some points to go over are: How well does this food item retain its flavour and presentation over a 15 minute delivery time? How easily can this menu item be scaled up or down to suit serving sizes for families, couples, singles, etc? How can ingredients be spread across a variety of menu items so you can buy larger quantities for less per kg? Think about how you can maintain a stock of fresh gourmet food that still reflects the quality of your original dine-in offerings. For more ideas and inspiration to create your bumper delivery menu read this awesome article we found on Toast.com

TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF GOVERNMENT STIMULUS + SUPPORT PACKAGES

Right now, the government is putting out loads of stimulus packages to keep small business alive. These are for you to take advantage of straight away! We can’t stress this enough. Understandably every cafe situation is different, but with the eligibility requirements slackened significantly for small business loans and tax support your business will definitely qualify for financial/tax assistance in some way. (Provided your sales have been affected of course). We’re obviously not your financial advisors but we encourage you to reach out to your trusted accountant and get help if needed to understand and access these Government provisions. Here are some of the most relevant incentives you may be able to leverage right now.

Payroll tax refund –

What this means for you: It is likely that if your business was eligible you have already received this handy refund from the State Government (Vic) of the Payroll Tax you have paid this year. If not, talk to your accountant right away.

Cash Flow Boost Payment

What this means for you: This is another excellent cash injection for businesses employing staff and who have been affected by the economic downturn associated with Covid-19. Eligible businesses will/have received cash flow boost amounts of between $20,000 and $100,000 by lodging their business activity statements with the ATO. See the link below for accurate information.

https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Business-activity-statements-(BAS)/In-detail/Boosting-cash-flow-for-employers/

Job-keeper payments -

What this means for you: To keep hold of your staff you can register for the Job-keeper payments. This means ‘the Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee until 27 September 2020’. To be eligible for these finances your sales must have reduced by a minimum of 30% compared to the month of April last year.For more information about Job Keeper payments click here.

The increased instant asset write-off -

What this means for you: ‘Under normal circumstances, individual assets less than $30,000 are eligible for the instant asset write off. The Government has lifted this threshold to $150,000 for assets that are either installed or ready for first use by 30 June 2020’. Source: business.gov.au

SME Guarantee Scheme -

What this means for you: 'This will provide businesses with funding to meet immediate cash flow needs, by further enhancing lenders’ (your bank's) willingness and ability to provide credit. Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans'. Source: business.gov.au

Tax support

'The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is providing relief for some tax obligations for businesses affected by the outbreak, on a case-by-case basis'. Source: business.gov.au

These are just a few of many avenues you can explore, please head over to the business.gov.au website for more information on business stimulus. Begin claiming lifesaving finance for your business today. For help regarding tax ring ATO's Emergency Support Info-line for businesses on 1800 806 218

BUILD ON YOUR CAFE'S COMMUNITY + DRAW MORE IN WITH VIRTUAL TOOLS AND INNOVATION

Pandemic or no pandemic the world is becoming more and more digital and the hospitality industry is no exception. Right now there is a special opportunity to win over the hearts and meal plans of your local community. Focus again on why people love your cafe and translate that into your social media, website and when creating unique ordering, service and delivery experiences. The two main funnels of effective engagement and sales generation have been social media and third party delivery apps. A study carried out with over 70,000 business by Hubspot found that people are still, if not more willing to interact with businesses especially around educational and conversational orientated content. The customers who used to enjoy your dine-in service will be sick of cooking by now and staying at home makes for a lot of online market attention that you can capture. Keeping it innovative is definitely working right now, here's our favourite examples of how:

While our friends from Swallow Coffee Traders up in Rockdale NSW have been advertising takeaway brunch using delicious food pictures in a fun Instagram story, Rachel and her team at Hendricks have been doing great things with their takeaway dinner nights, also advertised on Instagram.

A great example of giving back to the community is our ZEST ambassadors from Mr. D Food and Coffee. This week they’re giving back to the Bairnsdale community with a FREE coffee day for all public service workers. Meanwhile, The Odd Room team, upon re-opening are leading the pack in a new re-usable campaign. Their genius figured that while we can’t use re-usable cups at this time, why not at least re-use our hand sanitiser bottles? That’s why you’ll find Andy and Yuko with a giant 5L tub of Hand sanitiser smiling and ready to give you a FREE refill if you come to buy coffee there. Now that’s what we call – Coffeekind!

In order to drive online sales and boost your awesome new menu ideas you'll need to ensure online ordering is the first thing your customers find when visiting your website. Use deals and discounts to encourage online ordering through your website - this way you avoid the fees that come with using third party delivery providers. Turn your menu into a marketing tool by making it searchable. According to bizjournals.com, 49% of people begin searching for food online without a specific business name in mind. So, when someone types in 'Best almond latte’s in Melbourne', you want your menu of unique mylk options to be the first to pop up on that search. Make sure to keep it current and fresh in order to attract return customers with fun new menu additions. Finally make sure your menu (and website) is mobile friendly.

Social media is definitely your best friend in terms of interaction and is an opportunity to tap into every customer’s followers and amplify your audience reach. To do this and grow engagement quickly, encourage every guest to share their experiences, with small customised touches like a hand-written card or note on the receipt, a 'share your meal' Instagram campaign. You could even create your own collectible set of trivia cards that come with each meal. Once all the cards are collected customers can redeem a special prize or discount!

Use every interaction to remind your customers that you and your team have embraced a new level of cleanliness and are sympathetic with their situation. Customise your receipt and website messages to speak directly to your customers’ current concerns, update your phone answering machine message and hold message.

Now that you have some ideas we encourage you to attune them to your unique cafe situation, stay alert and ready to adapt to any new opportunities or changes. Remember that you’re not only going to have to survive this crazy time of restrictions, but be ready for when this is all over. Think of how much will have changed. No doubt increased personal hygiene will mark the emerging society. In fact, get set for a boom you guys, we’re positive that those stuck at home, longing for that cosy café meal and coffee and reuniting with best friends will drive a quick recovery for our industry. We look forward to hearing about your success and assisting you further whenever and wherever we can!