Surviving COVID-19: A Guide for Bars

August 3, 2020

RMS Hospitality

bartender pouring cocktail while wearing a mask and gloves to protect herself from COVID-19The spread of COVID-19 has completely upended the way we live, work, and socialize. From going to work and traveling to dinner parties and how we get our entertainment, the spread of the coronavirus has presented new challenges for everyone. In particular, the hospitality industry has suffered significant hits as states across the country have imposed lockdown or limited contact regulations, ending in bars and nightclubs closing.

In the spring, bars closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But after weeks of lockdown measures, bars and nightclubs found themselves able to open after the various lockdown mandates ended. However, after a new surge in cases across the U.S., some bars and nightclubs had to reclose following a second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak this summer. This shift has caused those in the industry to have to completely rethink how they will serve their customers and stay in business.

While businesses in the industry wait to hear from their local and state governments how they can operate in terms of in-person service, they can still take steps to keep operations running.

Here are some ideas for bars and nightclubs to keep operating during the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

How Bars Can Survive COVID-19

Bars are dealing with forced closures in states from Georgia to Arizona to Florida. Currently, public health advice is to keep social distancing in public, which may not be possible for those in bars and nightclubs. So, how can these establishments stay open without having to shut down completely?

In the first wave this spring, bars stayed afloat by offering curbside and to-go orders after getting granted leniency from local and state governments to allow alcohol on the go services. But what about this second wave?

Keep Communication Open:

Bars should stay engaged with their customers and reassure them that they are taking the risks seriously through their processes and procedures. This can include information being published online, through emails, text pushes, and social media platforms. Bars can keep their customers and community informed of what they are offering and what measures are being taken to serve their customers and keep them safe through sanitization efforts.

Be Sure to Offer More:

Alongside taking care of each guest, bars should remember that people are likely to be eating out or drinking less. However, this means they may be more willing to spend more when they do decide to go out and pick up food and drinks. Bars that serve food or various types of alcohol should be sure to offer sides, discounts on food combos, bottles of wine, and desserts.

Back on the Road:

When bars got the go-ahead to offer to-go and delivery services, they could stay afloat. While people may not feel comfortable heading into a bar, these establishments can still make it an option to bring the food and drinks to them. Bars should consider how they can maximize the delivery business. If they offer delivery, bars should be sure to emphasize no-contact options, as this will help customers feel more comfortable given the social distancing measures at hand.

Encourage Vouchers:

Gift cards/vouchers are an excellent way for bars to look toward the future. Purchasing these vouchers means that customers expect to patronize the bar at a later date, giving the bars something to plan for. This will bring cash to a business short term and ensure that they will have guests revisit.

How to Reduce Costs and Risks

Without regular sales and regular business, a bar’s exposure to costs will be considerable. But bars can maximize cash flow in other ways right now. Here are some ways to reduce costs and risks while a plan for bars to reopen is sorted:

  • Ask landlords for a payment plan to move to monthly payments instead of quarterly.
  • Implement pay cuts for a specific period.
  • Reduce operating hours to core trading periods to reduce variable costs like energy consumption.
  • Delay capital expenditure projects.
  • Claim any subsidies for benefits local and state governments are offering.

About RMS Hospitality Group

At RMS Hospitality Group, our expertly crafted policies are written specifically for the hospitality industry. We offer custom-tailored solutions to meet any venue’s specific needs. For more information, contact our knowledgeable experts today at (888) 359-8390.

Cover of 2020 Issue 4 Smart Choice Magazine titled "Agent Education: Adapting to Changing Needs in a Changing World"Agent Education: Adapting to Changing Needs in a Changing World

Being in the insurance industry, we've grown accustomed to navigating circumstances completely out of our control (such as weather and other natural disasters) — but the pandemic has really tested our resilience. For more on how agents can adapt to changing needs in a changing world while still providing exceptional service and products, check out the 2020 Issue 4 of Smart Choice Magazine.

Read the Magazine