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The Government’s recent announcement of the “Eat Out To Help Out Scheme” has created an opportunity for restaurants, cafés and bars to encourage customers back out onto the High Street and into their shops.  The scheme offers a discount of 50%, up to a maximum of £10 per person, for participating venues, Monday – Wednesday throughout August.  

Many of the large chains are gearing up for this offer, so how can independent food business take advantage and get customers into their shop, safely and effectively.

 

To be eligible for Eat out to Help Out, you must:

  • sell food for immediate consumption on the premises
  • provide your own dining area or share a dining area with another establishment for eat-in meals
  • Be registered as a food business with the relevant local authority on or before 7 July 2020

Businesses that only provide takeaway food or mobile catering are not included in the scheme.

 

What is the offer? 

The Government will reimburse 50% of the cost of a meal up to £10 per person, dining in from Monday to Wednesday in August.  Alcoholic drinks and service charges are excluded.  Discounts aren’t transferable, however there’s no limit to the number of times it can be used.

 

Nine to Dine - 9 Tips and advice to get the most from the offer

For many small cafes, a £20 per head meal may be far larger than the normal spend, so how best to have an enticing offer, should customers seek to maximise the discount?

 

  1. Make sure you are operating COVID safer by following guidelines for restaurants and cafes to support customers to feel confident about visiting the premises.
  2. Consider operating a booking system to manage customer numbers, collecting visitor records to support NHS test and trace. Remember diners may need more time for extra courses.
  3. Offer £20 fixed price meal deals- add in a starter /dessert course if needed.
  4. If you do not normally offer a dessert or sweets, consider local supply chains to source high quality cakes or gateaux to give an appealing extra.
  5. Alcoholic drinks are excluded, so hot drinks can have excellent mark-up. Look at a wider range of teas/coffees to enhance the dining experience.
  6. The discounts can be used repeatedly – have different specials for each offer day to encourage repeat business through the week.
  7. Check with your local authority about extending hours/having outside seating if there is the demand for additional mealtimes, such as Afternoon Tea and early evening meals.
  8. Remember, meals must be for seated dining, but food that is not eaten at a seating can still be taken away. Invest in some doggie bags for those who may not complete their meal.
  9. Download the promotional publication available for your shop and advertising.

 

How to sign up to the “Eat Out to Help Out Scheme”

  1. Register your business, giving your bank details, business address and Government gateway ID (one will be created if you have not done this before), corporation tax/self-assessment tax reference if applicable.
  2. The scheme goes live on August 3rd and you can start claiming back the discount from August 7th
  3. You must record the number of people using the scheme, number of transactions and total value of the discount.
  4. HMRC will pay eligible claims within 5 days, the money received is taxable income.
  5. All payments are subject to HMRC scrutiny, remember to ensure you maintain accurate records, including food management systems. Also, ensure that your customer numbers do not exceed levels that your local authority may deem to be unsafe under COVID19 guidelines.

 

The Covid19 pandemic has hit the food and drink sector hard and has been a challenge for many self-employed business owners as they look to the future. EnterprisingYou offers individuals support with many of those challenges and we would be happy to hear from entrepreneurs looking for help to move forward during difficult times.

If you would like to speak to one of our Business Coaches for a diagnostic and eligibility check onto the programme, please contact 0161 667 6900 or email info@enterprising-you.co.uk

More information about our programme can be found here.

About the author

Phil Starr

Phil Starr

Business Coach at The Growth Company

Phil has a strong financial background having previously established and ran his own financial services company for over 10 years and managing social finance organisations. His experience helps businesses to identify new markets and sales opportunities, driving business growth from a blank sheet and identifying who may be key drivers in new/existing markets.