Develop a Crisis Management Plan for your restaurant in 5 steps

Set the Tables

Let’s face it. Online deliveries only serve as a supporting tool to keep afloat and are not proving to be financially sustainable, at least for most existing restaurant models. The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis and serves as a reminder that having strategic crisis management in place can help immensely in staying ahead of the crowd. 

What is crisis management? They are tools in hand to help you weather through scenarios that you did not see coming flipped your business model upside down. Such crisis scenarios can wipe out your business overnight. In other words, every restaurant now must have actionable crisis management plans in advance. Here, we hope to have a 101 guide in helping you kickstart your crisis management plan: 

Crisis Management Planning 

To kickstart, your crisis management plannings and goals might need the below in mind: 

  • List down possible scenarios with solutions and benchmark in place: low cash reserve (how much cash reserve is needed to sustain the business for the next 3 to 6 months?), sales (breakeven, profitable, how long can you maintain at the lowest sales numbers?), natural disaster, theft (what to do when staff left with your cash?), and of course, pandemics. 
  • Sustaining the public perception of your brand image. Work with your PR and Marketing team to ensure a positive outcome from the crisis. 
  • Listen to your stakeholders, trusted employees, partners to have a well-rounded view of the crisis. 
  • Try your best to normalize operations, reduce damage control and reach breakeven within a timeframe. 
  • Ultimately, your brand values should serve as a foundation for you to make the right decisions to steer the ship around. 

 Crisis Management team 

This team can be a combination of one representative from every unit – Operations, FOH, BOH, HR, Finance, PR and Marketing. Mainly consist of your senior management and trusted employees, everyone should work together in the planning stage. In this manner, communication to their team is unified across all units and confident in responding to crises. The representatives should be appointed from the get-go and not when a crisis hit. 

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Be proactive and vigilant

You snooze, you lose. Be in the know on the ground whether competitors are taking advantage of the crisis you are facing. Being proactive is probably one of the best crisis management techniques you and your team need to be equipped with. If your gut feel or you had a sense that a crisis might be brewing, communicate with your Crisis Management team. Preparation goes a long way, and not to mention shorter response and recovery time. 

After every crisis management, vigilantly document every threat. measured taken, and outcomes after every crisis. Review with your team and train your staff well to manage the future crisis better. 

Set the Tables

 Building relationships through Supply Chain

 Always have options or plan B, C or D. Restaurant models are not sustainable due to unanticipated disruptions. With razor-thin margins and reserve, restaurants are on the brink of closure and unable to weather crisis, if unprepared. 

If there is a positive side from COVID-19 pandemic, it would be the F&B communities coming together to help each other out. There is an African proverb that goes like this, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Strengthen your brand’s supply chain by building relationships with purveyors, farmers, producers, industry peers and your neighbours. Host roundtable discussions with various vendors to exchange ideas and insights. 

Communicate, communicate, and…communicate! 

The effects of poor communication can threaten business and brand reputation. Just like in a relationship, honest communication goes a long way. The following can be some key pointers to start with: 

  • Your PR and Marketing team needs to have clear pointers of keywords, brand tonality when handling social media queries, stakeholders and media. 
  • Have one key personnel (or yourself) overseeing every message before disseminating out to the public: all print and digital communication.
  • Communicate internally to your staff what is happening, especially your FOH. Give your team key pointers if customers request for an answer, or refer to your management team to handle
  • Be in the know of what others might be talking about the crisis. Start with tracking mentions of your brand. Consider tracking via Google alert, monitoring social media platforms and news outlets.
  • Own up to your words and apologize when necessary

Now more than ever, we have seen how restaurants struggled to survive due to unanticipated crisis. We planned at lengths ahead to open our brands with a bang, but how about sustainability? With planning, we can detect risk early before they impact (too) negatively on your core operations and avoid the painful process of unnecessary recovering. Does your brand has a crisis management plan in place yet?

Reach out to us at to explore how we can support your restaurant business. 
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