In Frank Stauga’s restaurant Altes Amtshaus in Wildeshausen the tables are placed at precisely measured distances from each other. On 11 May, his wife Nicolle symbolically cut the red and white barrier tape at the entrance. The couple was ready for a fresh start. ‘We didn't know if anyone would even show up’, says Frank Stauga. But the regulars called, made reservations and showed up. ‘It was very emotional. Now we have to wait and see what the future will bring.’
He is fully aware that with only half the seats filled, and without groups or events, he will not make enough profit to cover his costs. Nevertheless, the reopening is an important step for him. ‘How we implement the requirements and how successful we are, economically or in terms of avoiding new infections, is our responsibility.’ He gets angry when people call him asking for a beer cart for Ascension Day: ‘It’s time for society to start rethinking. These actions ultimately make things worse for all of us!’
Every individual’s responsibility
Karl Romboy, trained chef and hospitality consultant at METRO Germany, shares this point of view. He is also appealing to the sense of responsibility of each individual and feels that, beyond politics, the hospitality industry and partners like METRO also have a duty to adapt quickly to the new normal and to think innovatively.
‘In the hospitality industry, people always make something for people. Things are being touched and tasted. It will never be like in a laboratory’, says celebrity chef and METRO brand ambassador Tim Raue to describe the challenges the industry sector is facing. ‘The first step has been taken: we are allowed to reopen. Now we have to figure out how to make it all work.’
Our customers are supposed to receive the best advice, so that they can successfully make a fresh start.Karl Romboy, chef and hospitality consultant at METRO Germany
Advice for a successful fresh start
Within a few days, METRO Germany set up a free Fresh Start Hospitality Hotline. Every day, experienced hospitality experts like Romboy use this platform to listen, provide tips and refer to experts. ‘It’s important to us that our customers receive the best advice, so that as many of them as possible can successfully make a fresh start’, says Romboy. He and his colleagues are constantly communicating with each other, with specialists from METRO headquarters and with the other METRO subsidiaries.
‘We are constantly exchanging information internationally to see what works in other countries’, says Romboy. For example, colleagues from MAKRO Spain informed themselves about the hotline offers, while Russian and Croatian teams shared their knowledge about programmes and initiatives to provide the best possible support for customers. The goal: To be a partner of the hospitality industry – in all aspects. Right in line with METRO’s Wholesale 360 approach. In this situation, it means using international resources, sound advice and rapid assistance in implementing all necessary requirements.
Committed to the future of the hospitality industry
METRO participates in initiatives all over the world to support the hospitality industry. In Turkey, METRO provides a product and service package worth 5,000 Turkish Lira (approx. 660 euros) to self-employed people with 10 employees or less, whose annual turnover is below 2 million Lira (approx. 260,000 euros). In seven European countries (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland) METRO is collaborating with Groupon, which will exempt restaurateurs from charges for offering pick-up and delivery vouchers until the end of June 2020. In line with the motto ‘One for all. All for hospitality.’, METRO Austria is extending the customers’ payment terms up to 90 days to support their fresh start.
The website WirSindGekommenUmZuBleiben.de (We Came To Stay) is creating a platform where restaurateurs can exchange information directly and provide each other with assistance and useful tips for a fresh start and the new normal. Live chats take place 2 to 3 days a week. Paperless hygiene documentation is enabled by the app Flowtify, one of the first participants of the METRO Xcel programme for start-ups: It saves time on printing, copying and archiving of visitor lists.
Liquidity planning – a key success factor
Liquidity planning plays a major role now. How much turnover can be achieved with the reduced number of seats? How much personnel is necessary – and affordable? ‘Being in the hospitality industry means profit margins in the single-digit percentage range’, says Tim Raue. Precise calculations are the be-all and end-all under the currently applicable safety requirements. Digitalisation may offer some opportunities in that regard. Tools provided by METRO’s subsidiary Hospitality Digital help to check concepts for economic viability and adapt them to the current situation.
Being in the hospitality industry means profit margins in the single-digit percentage range.Tim Raue, Michelin-decorated chef and METRO brand ambassador
Table reservations (in many places also a condition for reopening) can be made using the reservation button, which is also available free of charge in 15 countries via the free website builder at DISH.co, the hospitality industry platform for digital tools. Orders are placed directly online with the restaurant, without using any intermediaries, via a simple order button. So far, more than 4,500 international restaurateurs have integrated it into their internet presence.
Go for the top and trim the fat
Due to the current situation, METRO experts recommend for restaurateurs to focus their menu on 2 or 3 top sellers and to remove all dishes that do not generate a positive contribution margin. In order to assist restaurateurs in setting up a delivery service for their meals, METRO is working in several countries with car-sharing provider sharenow and the international car rental company SIXT. METRO customers benefit from discounted rates for rental cars.
But not every hospitality business works equally well as a takeaway concept. High-class restaurants, for example, offer menus ‘à la maison’ – vacuum-packed dishes with instructions for preparation at home. Generally speaking, a great idea, according to Romboy, who ran a restaurant in Düsseldorf for many years. ‘For people who like to eat exquisite meals, this is certainly exciting. But in the long run, who will be willing to pay the same price as in a restaurant for a meal that still has to be prepared at home?’ However, it is definitely worth a try.
Frank Stauga will also continue to cook takeaway food. His menu is adapted to the new situation, and so are the new rules of conduct in the restaurant: no physical contact with members of another household, no seating rearrangement, moderate volume while talking to minimise the risk of droplet infection. Every 60 minutes, the 3 guest rooms of the ‘Altes Amtshaus’ are shock-ventilated and the names and telephone numbers of all guests are recorded and stored for 3 weeks in compliance with GDPR. Stauga is asking his guests to ‘act responsibly’ and stay at home if they experience cold symptoms. He tells the story of a couple who has been celebrating their wedding anniversary at his restaurant every year. This year, they had the meal delivered to their homes. ‘Both work in the hospital and don’t want to expose us and the guests to any risks’, he says. ‘I’m truly grateful to them for that.’