Restaurant Engine

Let’s hope the heatwaves this summer won’t be like what’s happening in the northern hemisphere or the bushfires of 2019. It’s important to prepare for big challenges, plan to protect assets, and organise disaster-recovery marketing.

Urgent safety and continuity issues need your attention, starting with a secure power supply. It could even be a generator to ensure you can keep running if the power goes out. Refrigeration should be a priority as it holds valuable food stock. It needs preventive maintenance well before summer including cleaning the condenser coils at the back of the fridge units every month, checking the door seals are in good shape, and re-gassing the motors.

Set up 24-7 temperature monitoring, which will alert you if any systems go down – this technology is reasonably priced and can save thousands if just one failure is prevented.

Back up your business records as it is much more secure to use cloud-based systems that protect financial, staff, and customer records. Double-check your insurance policy for adequate protection from losses caused by bad weather. Insurance costs have soared in recent years, and coverage has been scaled back.

Make sure your business will be locked securely if it’s closed for days or weeks as it can be a busy time for thieves. Air conditioning also needs care and maintenance: dirty filters reduce airflow and make the motors work harder. If the evaporator and condenser coils get dirty, it reduces the system’s ability to absorb and release heat.

Stock up on supplies – have enough food, drink, first-aid kits, torches, batteries, and necessary medicines. If deliveries are disrupted, you may need more than the usual stock for two to three days. Be aware of road conditions and problems that could make it hard for staff and customers to get around.

Employees also need care in heatwave weather: make sure there is plenty of cool water available to help them stay hydrated and cool and train them to identify signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

The roster could also change to support shorter shifts. There may be cutbacks in the work available, so check Fair Work’s stand-down provisions for employers and employees during a natural disaster. Government assistance is usually offered quickly, but it can be complicated. If your business records are online, you can fill in applications – local councils usually lead the way with these responses.

Keep your customers informed. One of the easiest ways is to post news on Instagram and Facebook or send emails. A short SMS update is also appropriate and expected for emergency communication.

Share plenty of photos and ask customers to share theirs – before-and-after shots always make an impression. It can be a unique opportunity to connect and build a database of true supporters – the comfort you offer with cool drinks, coffee, friendly service, and an ‘all in this together’ attitude will be remembered for a long time.

Customer numbers may go down, so you need a plan B ready for a potential sales slump, which means fewer staff and cancelled supplies. Be ready to talk to suppliers, the bank, and the landlord.

It’s also time to reach out to other business owners over a coffee or beer. Plan a joint approach to local or state government, an insurance company, or suppliers – they respond to a group with much more respect. Good preparation will make this a successful summer, no matter what mother nature brings us.