The great Texas Experiment begins next Wednesday.
That’s when Governor Greg Abbott has announced he will rescind his statewide mask mandate and capacity limits on businesses.
The governor also said, “Personal vigilance to follow the safe standards is still needed to contain COVID. To stay safe, Texans should continue to follow medical advice on preventing COVID.”
Revenue Goes up for Now
In the short term, expect a revenue increase.
In a couple of weeks, however, we’ll see whether the results of this experiment allow those increases to continue.
Importantly, if your organization already ranks amongst the best, your to-go, delivery, and curbside division should hit a floor – but not decline back to where it was pre-pandemic.
Some diners will switch back to to-go; don’t forget them!
Mask Police or COVID Deniers?
Now that restaurants, rather than governments, are responsible for COVID protection at their establishments, they can no longer point a finger at government for those decisions.
So get ready to upset a large portion of your guests (and send signals to the unready) at a time you can’t afford to lose anyone.
And make sure to remember the unready – the people who will make you whole once they start dining with you again.
Five Key Things to Remember
- Protect employees first. Team member safety remains paramount. These essential workers have just found out they are not so essential when it comes to getting a vaccine. Think about protecting them first and continue to expect them to wear masks and take all precautions.
- Shelter them. Your managers must be prepared to immediately support employees and intervene on their behalf when self-righteous guests rail at them with Twitter-style lectures over your new self-imposed (or unchosen) safety protocols – or even for wearing (or not wearing) a mask.
- Keep them. When the pandemic started, we were so smart and thought that the only good thing to happen would be the end of our labor shortage. We were wrong. The challenge of finding people to work in your restaurants has never been greater. Use that as additional motivation to support your team.
- Guests. We have all observed the kabuki aspect of safety mask-wearing: the charade as guests wear masks when they enter or move around your restaurant – only to remove them at their table. You have to decide the right thing for your restaurants. In general, the more casual your restaurant and the less of a true relationship you have with your guests, the bigger challenge you have in imposing mask rules.
- Spacing. Keeping tables out of commission to increase social distancing becomes easier than requiring masks.
How To Build Your Brand and Reputation
Each owner must decide their own right thing. But remember: People have long memories, and your reputation – your biggest asset – will be built on them.
My bias is to be very cautious about relaxing restrictions until this experiment proves out.
We all know the Benjamin Franklin quote: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.”
Another one, from Jeff Bezos: “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person – you earn the reputation by trying to do the hard things well.”
Over to you. What do you plan to roll out next Wednesday? Hit reply and let me know.