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Behind the scenes of a successful restaurant rebound: Q&A with COO of Norrein Group

Tim Brown
Vice President, Global Sales Consulting, Oracle Food and Beverage

Norway’s Norrein Group was one of the first brands to successfully bounce back from the country’s economic shutdown. Its signature brand Egon began a staggered re-opening of 41 stores in late April. Norrein Group partnered with Oracle to optimize Egon’s restaurant point of sale systems and processes to prepare for welcoming guests back. Not only did the reopening go relatively smoothly, but Norrein Group was able to open three new restaurants this summer, taking its portfolio to 44 stores across Norway and Sweden.

In a recent webcast, Dan Robert Halshamn, COO of Norrein Group, gave us the inside scoop on the brand's rebound success and what it has been like behind the scenes.

The impact COVID-19 has had on the restaurant industry in Norway

Unlike many other European countries, Norway did not enter a state of complete 'lock-down' but saw the introduction of intense regulations starting on the 12th of March. In accordance with government guidelines, Norrein Group shuttered its doors at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, offering only takeout and delivery through its online ordering system for restaurants. By late May the situation in Norway began improving, with school and restaurants reopening.

In June, the Norrein Group had regained the majority of its lost revenue, and despite social distancing remaining in place, they have seen a 30% increase in revenue from the same period last year.

Re-inspiring confidence in their consumers

Upon reopening, the struggle for many restaurants has been successfully re-igniting consumer confidence. The UK government took an active role in addressing this by launching its 'Eat Out to Help Out' Scheme that offers restaurant guests up to 50% off their check, Monday through Wednesday, for the month of August. Given Norway's relatively good position in the recovery, the country was amongst one of the first to combat this new 'FOGO' (Fear of Going Out) phenomenon.

For the Norrein Group, the key to success was taking baby steps and reopening in stages. Initially, it reopened 10 Egon stores to gauge the market and gain a greater understanding of how consumers would react. The COO expressed how the first two weeks were all about trial and error. Their priority was to ensure employees were comfortable with the new proceedings, familiarizing them with the new routines and regulations. Egon realized that unless the staff felt comfortable, they wouldn’t be able to deliver the best restaurant experiences for their guests.

When the team was ready to reopen, the brand also took significant measures to restructure its restaurants in advance to ensure optimal efficiency and safety for staff and customers.

It was of paramount importance that customers came to their restaurants to see and feel that the brand was taking things seriously. This started with being greeted by staff and management who were confident and comfortable in the “new normal” restaurant environment. Dan suggested that by closely following the government regulations, customers were able to relax and feel safe while enjoying themselves.

Ever-changing regulations posed the biggest challenge

When talking about the toughest challenges the restaurant group faced during the rebound, Dan noted that constantly changing advice and regulations proved to be the most problematic. For instance, it was difficult to plan for the reopening with uncertainties around the 1-2 meter social distancing guidelines and the forbidding of alcohol.

As time went on and governments and health professionals better understood the virus, regulations began to ease and the industry was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The next biggest challenge for restaurants was motivating its teams.

Communication with employees was key

Dan added the final key to Norrein Group’s rebound success was communicating with employees. Throughout the last few months, the restaurant group ensured communication with all 150 staff members was at the top of their priority list. Dan shared how the brand would reach out to its workforce weekly, if not several times a week, keeping them in the loop. They would share the latest regulations and what would be happening over the next couple of weeks. This constant communication reassured employees and helped prepare them to for a return to work.

How to ensure your own successful rebound

Oracle has helped dozens of customers like Norrein Group from rebound and recover. For tips on how to navigate this new normal, please review our guidebook or take advantage of our complimentary Restaurant Rebound Assessment. This new offer uses a standardized approach to assess current operating conditions, profit and loss performance, and your own restaurant analytics. After a free personal consultation with one of our experts, you will receive a tailored report that outlines your post-COVID-19 cash flow as well as your restaurant's rebound potential.

If you would like to schedule one of our complimentary rebound assessments or learn how Oracle Food and Beverage can support your business, please visit our website or contact us today. Phone: US: +1 866-287-4736; UK: +44 207 5626 827; AU: 1300 366 386; LAD: 52 559 178 3146) | chat | or request a call back.

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