This year has been one of the toughest in living memory for the Australian alcohol industry, and with government restrictions around COVID-19 beginning to ease, many will be hoping to put the worst behind them.

Reopening a business in the post COVID-19 era presents a host of challenges, and we have tried to address the main ones below. However above all, it’s essential to keep abreast of current guidelines issued by federal and state governments via and your local state government website respectively.

Engage with your customers:
Check in on social media, leverage your existing customer base and get people excited about coming back to your cellar door, distillery or brewery. Anticipate how customers’ behaviour and expectations may have changed and try to accommodate their new expectations.

Think about how your processes will change:
Think about how staff will work differently than before. Put in place a cleaning roster and make sure everyone is across the rules on social distancing. Consider common touch points; menus or tasting lists may be laminated and disinfected between uses, shared condiments, water stations removed etc. Set up training sessions to introduce staff to these new processes.

Consult with your staff:
Many will have legitimate concerns about a return to work, from transport to at-risk loved ones, and shared facilities. It’s important to be open about your plans and address these concerns in order that staff can feel comfortable returning to work.

Check in on your assets and inventory:
If you haven’t looked in on your stock or cellar door for a while, then it’s probably time to do so. Leaks may have sprung up, stock could have been damaged or use by dates exceeded, or machines may need essential maintenance. Consider stock levels in terms of reduced demand and make sure any replacement stock is ordered far enough in advance, as supply times may have increased.

Many businesses have been forced to diversify their offerings, with increased delivery services, interactive online tasting experiences, and curated mixed cases giving customers the feeling of a cellar door experience at home. In some cases, these will continue as profitable side-lines, or even take over as a more significant part of the business.