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Weathering the financial storm: How East Midlands hospitality venues can survive in 2023

Weathering the financial storm: How East Midlands hospitality venues can survive in 2023

How modern hospitality can weather the oncoming storm

Ordinarly seasonal periods such as Christmas, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day would be a time of booming trade in the hospitality industry. However, with the recent trifecta of a looming recession, strike action impacting customers’ travel plans and rising energy costs, UK hospitality is facing uncertain times ahead. Thriving desserts chain Heavenly Desserts offers tactical tips for UK restaurants struggling as we move into 2023.

A recent study by the advisory firm Mazars suggests that many businesses survived Covid-19 only to run into staff shortages, no-show bookings and staggering energy costs, with UK restaurant closures rising by 60% in the last year.

Bucking the trend is Heavenly Desserts, a luxury artisan desserts chain who recently expanded internationally, opening their 45th store in Canada. So, what can businesses do to ensure a cost-effective Christmas? Heavenly Desserts co-founder Mohammed Imran explains how a combination of savvy economic tactics and considering offers for cost-conscious consumers can help businesses to survive the festive period and beyond.

Controlled growth and reducing financial pressures

At Heavenly Desserts, the team is always working on reducing costs for our franchisees, which involves negotiating better deals to bring product costs down and trying to offset the challenges we’re facing as much as possible. However, this isn’t always a guaranteed saving that we can rely on and fluctuates as financial conditions change. 

On a broader level, we’re very conscious of living within our means as a business in order to stay debt free and reduce financial pressures. We manage our cashflow in such a way that we don’t rely on investors, meaning my co-founder Yousif Aslam and I have maximum control in any situation.

Another consideration in tough times is carefully controlling our franchise growth to ensure that those teams can still make money. We look at each proposed location individually and weigh up the strengths and possible pitfalls, and where we can negotiate favourable deals for our franchisees. 

Refine your menu and reframe your offering 

Making your menu work as hard as possible is key. It may sound obvious but focusing on your bestsellers and cost-effective options that appeal to customers is a vital strategy step. This is evidenced by Heavenly Desserts’ tapas dessert menu success. 

Franchisee for its Walthamstow branch Yusuf Ismail said:

“We have seen a huge rise in customers opting for these shareable plates which offer a taste of three or five larger items on the menu. Customers don’t have to commit to larger portions or higher prices and still get a dose of indulgence. This often encourages buyers to try the menu items they’ve sampled and many become return customers as a result.”

A menu option which gives customers a deal but doesn’t feel any less decadent has proved popular, especially as the cost of living crisis begins to bite.

Yusuf added:

“Giving consumers full information on pricing via our new window menus has also helped footfall. We are leaders in the luxury dessert dining category and our interior makes this clear on first impression, so giving clarity on prices helps passers-by to realise that we offer luxury at an affordable price point.”

Apply skills and tactics learned from lockdown

The global pandemic was an unprecedented challenge for all UK business sectors, but just because lockdown has ended doesn’t mean we should forget the strategies and innovation many used to stay afloat.

During Covid-19, Heavenly Desserts gained steam and thrived as we opened 17 new stores, including our Walthamstow branch in London. Through utilising delivery services like Deliveroo and Just Eat, we were able to bring customers the experiences they felt that they were missing out on in the comfort of their own homes. Many customers are once again choosing to stay in and celebrate with friends rather than risk unreliable train schedules, with pubs and restaurants estimating this will impact a third of their bookings. 

It's important not to neglect these delivery options, continuing to market special offers, bundles and promotions exclusive to these platforms. Without the added cost of travel, customers can still have a luxurious night in with the food and drink that makes this season so special. 

Marketing and social media pushes

It might seem counter intuitive but in times of economic stress, it’s vital to invest in marketing, influencer partnerships and social media. This became a crucial part of many marketing strategies during the pandemic as people experienced the world through their phones and it’s safe to say it’s stuck, with 40% of Gen Z preferring to use platforms like TikTok and Instagram over traditional search engines like Google.

As poor weather and travel difficulties affect footfall and passing trade, reaching customers in their homes becomes increasingly important. Employing the right tactics to reach your desired audiences is an investment many brands capitalise on to increase brand awareness and ultimately, drive sales. 

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