Staring at a 3-month pandemic lockdown?
Struggling on how to make use of this time?
Austen Bushrod provides a list of suggestions to help the lockdown pass faster than you can say ‘Vaccine’!
We have to accept that for the coming three months the hotel industry will be closed. Whilst writing my recent post, Hospitality Does Cause a Rise in Covid Cases, I recalled many sociable nights in hotel bars and restaurants. Sadly, Hospitality is a victim of its own success right now.
If you are going to make it to Spring, and the vaccine rollout has made a dent on this long-suffered pandemic, then this is a golden time to be preparing. Unlike previous lockdowns, we can be pretty sure that it will last the full first quarter. Having been there before, we kind of know what to expect.
1. Make a Plan
Making a plan of what you are going to do and when is really useful – especially when it comes to the next three months. Don’t be tempted to make a list – that is not a plan. You will find a list hard to prioritise and will gravitate towards what you want to do rather than what needs doing. Document your plan. Make sure you can refer to it and adjust it in the future.
As a hotelier, you are very used to long hours and frantic activity. You know lockdown isn’t like that, but knowing you have something to do on most days will help with your mental strength.
Planning effort is always rewarded with more successful production – and that will apply to your time too.
2. Classify your stages of re-growth
You know that unless you are a staycation destination over Easter that you won’t re-start with a bang. Start to build on your own vocabulary, but I have been working with hotels recently on the following stages:
· Ultra-Low Occupancy (ULO) – 0-10%
· Very-Low Occupancy (VLO) – 10-30%
· Low Occupancy (LO) – 30-50%
You may want to use your own phrases, and even adjust the percentages, but the key thing to learn is to classify different stages of your growth. By doing this, you can think more clearly about how you will manage through that growth. It will help you to identify what is important or needed at each stage and what should be left aside for now.
If you have a team, sharing this thinking with them will help to have you all on the same page – as well as making them feel connected to the business, even if on furlough.
3. Schedule Weekly Pandemic Support Research
You will have surely had some level of government support during this pandemic. I’m sure it’s not enough, but all the same, you need to consider seeking support as a key part of your role. Don’t be tempted to assume that because you have had payments before, that you will be automatically provided for. There will surely be more rounds of funding and support available (note – this was written before the chancellor’s announcement on 05/01/21). Stay on top of the latest news and make sure you are ready to apply. Sadly, I have worked with several hotels over the last 6 months who have not received the money they are entitled to because of poor applications. Take your time over them and get help if you need to.
Finally, stay on top of the furlough system and take time to educate yourself on how it works. Do not rely on your accountant to have all the knowledge. You will sleep better knowing that you know…
4. Review your bills for 2014-2020
This one looks odd but bear with me.
Any business owner or operator should know that any payment/invoice can be disputed for a period of up to 7 years after it was issued.
That means that if you find an invoice that was incorrect from say 2015, then you can go back to that supplier and reclaim and money that they might owe you.
When businesses are busy, and profitable, they are likely to spend less focus on the correctness of billing that they should. Over the last few years, the reduction of purchasing and financial resources in hotels has often meant less pairs of eyes picking up discrepancies.
I don’t endorse going back over every invoice in granular detail, but you should take time to spot check some of the larger ones. If you look at Energy, Housekeeping, Laundry, F&B distribution and Alcohol, you could cover off more than 50% of your expenditure.
It is then down to you to decide whether you want to approach your suppliers for refunds, but I have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds reclaimed in this way over the last 6 months during a period where hotels need the cash.
Perhaps the final note on this point is that Energy bills are often the most inaccurate. Your Energy broker should be able to run a billing audit on your Energy bills on your behalf. I can recommend the Energy Cashback checking service done by Consultus Assured Energy at www.hotelcostclinic.com/bookings-checkout/energy-cashback.
That's a start to get you thinking - in between home schooling challenges! Look out next week for the remaining 4 actions to help hotels make the most out of Lockdown 2021.
This time around, rather than focusing on what the next 3 months holds for us, we can accept that we will be locked up and need things to do! Don’t waste it.
While you are here, please take time to have a look around HotelCostClinic.com and see where they might be of use to you over the coming months and into 2021.
They are currently offering free introductory sessions on any treatment subjects, so feel free to sign up and drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be happy to help.