No one knows what Brexit will mean for the UK as a whole, let alone pubs. We don’t know if we will leave with or without a deal, and we don’t really know what either of these will mean anyway!
It might seem impossible to prepare for so many unknowns, but it doesn’t do any harm to make sure you’re ready in case some of the more negative scenarios play out.
Check your gross profit margins
Brexit could hit the price of goods. If goods become cheaper through the benefits of free trade, we can all have a bit more money in our pocket. However, if they become more expensive you will want to make sure you’ve got healthy gross profit margins that could withstand the increases.
If you use a specialist pub epos system, you should be able to see your GP on every product easily. If you’re not hitting the margin you need, you could increase the price, look for a cheaper supplier, or replace the product with a cheaper alternative.
Look for locally sourced produce
Locally sourced produce appeals to customers, is better for the environment and helps your local economy, so you already have enough reasons to use it. Ensuring you do, could also help protect you against any price increases after Brexit.
Build staff loyalty
Recruiting good bar and kitchen staff is already a challenge. If fewer EU workers choose to, or are allowed to, come to the UK after Brexit it will become even harder.
Ensuring your current staff are happy and motivated is a good idea anyway, and doing so prior to Brexit will help ensure you’re not left in the lurch if there is a shortage of staff to go around.
If you do need to recruit staff, planning for the long term can avoid you having to recruit again in what could be difficult circumstances. This means looking for people who want a career in the trade, rather than a short-term job. The government apprenticeship scheme is a great way to do this. Alongside their employment, apprentices study a (largely government funded) course. Hospitality apprenticeships are on the increase, and include courses aimed at team members as well as supervisors and managers.
Identify cost cutting opportunities
If Brexit has an adverse impact on the economy it could hit consumer spending. Economic predictions are notoriously unreliable so it doesn’t make sense to panic, but it does make sense to be prepared.
Take a look at your costs to identify any areas you could cut back, either now or if spending was to take a downward trend.
Many of the suggestions made above are good business practice in any scenario, so will leave you well prepared whatever the outcome of Brexit.
Perhaps the most important point of all though, is not to panic. In the last few years, pubs have been faced with changing consumer behaviour, competition from supermarkets, and crippling business rates. With every challenge, comes further evidence of the resilient, adaptive and forward thinking businesses that make up the sector.
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