HOW RESTAURANTS CAN RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGES POSED BY COVID-19?

Coronavirus pandemic has impacted millions of people around the world. The virus has also affected lakhs of people in India, leading to several lockdowns to curtail the transmission of the virus.

These lockdowns have severely affected various sectors throughout India, chief among these being the restaurant industry. If the coronavirus pandemic lasts for a long period, people may get habituated with the idea of not dining out, which will inevitably take the industry longer to recover.

In India, the restaurant industry has faced numerous challenges because of the COVID-19 outbreak: the end of group dining at restaurants, protecting the health of both the employees and the customers, following the safety regulations laid down by the Government, working with a limited number of workers, running expenditure without revenues to match, etc.

Restaurants can address these challenges by actioning the following:

  • Focus on takeaways: Group dining has become a thing of the past due to the coronavirus pandemic. In this situation, focusing on building the business via takeaways would be a wise decision. This would promote social distancing and would prevent the virus from spreading while ensuring operations are sustained.
  • Collaboration: Restaurants can collaborate to benefit from each other’s strengths. This would not only reduce cost but also increase the number of customers (combining the customers of both the restaurants). The merged restaurant can prepare their best dishes (for which they are famous) and focus their efforts on selling these (which would also result in zero wastage). Collaboration would also help in merging the workforce and have more people available for extensive cleaning and door-to-door delivery.
  • Social media marketing: With the onset of COVID-19, traditional marketing wouldn’t prove to be fruitful. On the contrary, it will be expensive. Owing to the lockdowns, people are getting time to surf on social media. Thus, social media marketing would catch their attention. Restaurants will also be able to connect directly with their customers to build effective customer relationships.
  • Opt for online food ordering: Since people cannot go to restaurants, the only way for these businesses to operate would be through food delivery. They can list themselves on Swiggy, Zomato or other food delivery aggregators to increase sales. They can even opt for food orders placed directly through phone calls. This would reduce costs and create a revenue stream.
  • Create a social awareness program: The restaurants can create a social awareness program around frontline healthcare workers of COVID-19 by supplying them food. Apart from the element of social service, this can also be marketed or advertised on social media and other digital platforms to create goodwill amongst customers.
  • Follow the norms laid down by WHO on hygiene: There are operational challenges in the wake of the pandemic. To overcome those, restaurants should maintain hygiene by extensively using hand sanitizers. They should bear in mind that food safety should be their priority. The working stations should be wiped down at regular intervals using a bleach solution. The executives and valets should be cautious during food delivery and opt for contactless payments.

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Implications of GST for Services

The new Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a unified tax structure that was implemented by the Government of India on 1 July 2017. The new regime has ushered a significant change in taxation levels and rules associated with it. On an average, we see the tax slab increasing from 15% to 18% for most of the services. While this may translate to higher cost of services to the end consumer, GST also presents a whole lot of opportunities, pushing ease of business.

Services Sector in India: An Overview

India is a strong services-led economy with the sector generating a significant chunk of employment opportunities and contributing to the GDP. It contributed around 66.1% of India’s Gross Value Added (GVA) growth in 2015-16, is the biggest magnet for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and an important net foreign exchange earner. Some of the core areas of service are IT and ITES, banking and financial services, outsourcing, research and development, transportation, telecommunications, real estate and professional services.

Some of the positive impacts of GST on service providers are:

Clear distinction between goods and services: The old regime does not clearly distinguish between goods and services, leading to many instances of double taxation. For example, software is often treated as a good and as a service. The new regime clearly distinguishes goods from services, and also defines principal supply, composite supply, and mixed supply separately. For example, when an individual books a Rajdhani train ticket which includes meals, it involves a composite supply wherein the ticket and the meals cannot be sold separately. Since the transportation of the passenger is the principal supply, the rate of tax will only be charged on the ticket. Alternatively, for items that can be sold separately, but are sold together, like a hamper of snacks and aerated drinks, the rate of tax applicable on the higher product will be levied on the composite supply. There are also separate definitions for supply of software, works contracts, and leasing transactions to bring in more clarity and transparency on their taxation rules.

Streamlining of taxation for intra-state service providers: Due to the state level taxes being subsumed, it will become easier for service providers that operate within the state to know their tax obligations better. Such companies can move away from multiple tax calculations. For example, a CD with software incurs Excise, Service Tax, and VAT under the old regime; this is simplified to one unified rate under GST, making tax calculations and administration easier for intra-state service providers.

Input credit facility: VAT payment under the old regime was not eligible for setting off against output liabilities. The input credit facility is now made available to service providers as well, wherein tax paid on any inputs can be claimed and adjusted against tax paid on output. This will result in direct cost savings for service providers and may even offset the expected rise in end pricing. For example, an AC fitter who paid tax on the raw material for AC fittings (pipe, tape, solder etc.) will be able to claim that tax, and end up spending less on the cost of fitting the AC. This cost advantage can spill over to the customer as well.

Regularised return filing: The old service tax system required two half-yearly returns for services businesses. Under GST, this has been replaced by a number of returns provisions, depending on the type of taxpayer and the type of business:

Return Type of tax payer Timeline of filing return
GSTR 1 For outward supplies of sale (for registered taxable person) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 2 For inward supplies received by a taxpayer (for registered taxable person) By 15th of the next month
GSTR 3 Monthly return for registered taxable person (except for Compounding Taxpayer) By 20th of the next month
GSTR 4 Quarterly return for Compounding Taxpayer/Composition Supplier By 18th of the next month
GSTR 5 Periodic return by Non-Resident Foreign Taxpayer By 20th of the next month
GSTR 6 Return for Input Service Distributor (ISD) By 13th of the month succeeding the quarter
GSTR 7 Return for Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) By 10th of the next month
GSTR 8 Annual Return for e-commerce operator By 10th of the next month

While a shorter timeline for filing returns might seem overwhelming, regularisation in return filing will result in better streamlining of taxes. Since all these returns are required to be submitted online through a common portal provided by GSTN, the process is simplified and will help the government weed out regular defaulters. This in turn will result in a major boost in the contribution of the Service sector to the GDP.

Service providers, however, are concerned about the following aspects:

  • State-wise registration will be required: In the old regime, a service provider could operate with a single place of registration, since services were taxed only by the Central government. For example, if an IT services provider was present across states, they could carry out tax and delivery transactions from the main location. However, now a service provider that is offering services across states must register each place of business separately in each state. This is because the new GST regime entails taxation of services at “location of service recipient”, which will differ for different states. This means service providers will need to register afresh in new states and then carry out tax transactions separately in each state. For example, an IT company like TCS that has a widespread presence across states will need to decentralise service delivery.
  • Decentralised reporting will add to costs: Under GST, the “location of service recipient” is the key criterion for how a service will be taxed. Tax considerations will be related to the place the service is being delivered, and even a pan-India service provider with several “locations of service” will need to maintain state-wise records of input credit, audits, service consumption, etc. For example, earlier a service provider like TCS would enter into a single contract with the client, based on its main location, and then would discharge service tax based on the single-service tax registration model. GST will decentralise service delivery models, ensuring various TCS units adopt their own tax reporting and tax management. While this need for decentralised tax tracking and processing is an immediate cost to service providers, it presents a very real opportunity to streamline reporting and compliance measures for the future.

GST offers clear benefits to the services sector, and while some of these measures entail additional cost and effort in the short term, businesses can look forward to simpler operations with the new taxation laws.

All in all, services industries must gear up for better ways to manage business. Now is the time for them to equip themselves with the right people, processes and technologies, and emerge as service providers of the future.

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Oct 24, 2018

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Why buying a big house is a bad investment

To take a trivial example, which of us ever sed undertakes laborious physical exercise except to obtain some advantage.

Oct 24, 2018

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Top 5 Benefits of Business Loans That Can Help Expand Your Business

Are you a dynamic entrepreneur whose ultimate goal is to turn your passion into reality? Are you looking at starting or expanding your small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)? Do you believe that all you need is a push to fulfil your dreams? In that case, you can look at any of the several sources of business loans – banks, non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), government institutions, venture capitalists –  that are here to work with you as a partner to help actualise your business ideas.

In the current economic climate of India, SMEs are in constant need of funds to expand their businesses, meet working capital needs, or make optimal use of business opportunities.  Business loans, either from traditional sources or from FinTech companies such as Capital Float, can provide an optimal solution to meet such financial requirements.

Such loans, besides their obvious benefit of the right funds at the right time, carry several advantages that make their choice a good one. Here is a look at the benefits of availing a business loan for expansion:

1- Helps with the cash flow

Business loans can be either utilized to boost revenues or to gain competitive edge. So a company may look to open a new branch, launch a marketing campaign, add to inventory for seasonal demand spikes, and so on. Any money can be good money, provided it is used efficiently and wisely. You can opt for short- or long-term financing, small loan or large, whichever works well for you. The idea is that the income generated from such avenues goes towards repayment of the loans, and leaves a tidy sum for you to use otherwise. You get to achieve your business goal without having to spend your cash.

Banks are generally the first choice when it comes to applying for loans. Their primary advantage lies in their accessibility and familiarity, especially for long-term customers. Although it is tough to get a loan approved, you carry home the satisfaction of getting away with lower interest rates. Also, unlike venture capitalists and angel investors, you need not part with either ownership or profits from businesses.

2- Simple and speedy loan disbursal process

New age FinTech companies in comparison are catering to a huge demand for business loans by focusing on start-ups and SMEs. With government support and positive economic outlook working in favour of such ventures, there is massive scope for funding new businesses or expansions. Digital lending platforms tap this market by providing business loans, which work well for the borrower as well as the lender. The loan processes are simple, friendly and hassle-free. Capital Float is one such company that offers small business loans in a simple 4-step electronic process, ensuring enhanced customer experience.

All you need to do is fill up the online application form by visiting www.capitalfloat.com from anywhere, anytime, and upload the required documents. The minimal, hassle-free, and user-friendly documentation process is followed up with on-time finance disbursal to borrowers. Specialised companies like Capital Float ensure that your loan is disbursed within 72 hours.

3- Customised solutions for SME needs

Business loans can give the ultimate boost to your company in an efficient and effective way. Banks as well as Fintech lenders like Capital Float believe in the uniqueness of every business, and provide a wide range of flexible, tailor-made loan products that cater to the specific business needs of SMEs in India. You can choose the most suitable option that meets your requirements.

The repayment options are equally flexible. Based on your financial needs, most lending companies provide you business loans ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore for varied tenures. For example, you can avail business loans for a tenure of 1-12 months with no pre-closure penalties and extremely flexible repayment options (ranging from 12 months to 36 months) from Capital Float. These features are designed to specifically cater to the needs of SMEs in India. SMEs taking loans against receivables can repay it in a single “bullet” instalment at maturity, while those taking unsecured loans can repay through EMIs.

4- Competitive interest rates

Not only banks, certain NBFCs and other lending companies can also offer business loans at competitive interest rates. Capital Float for instance provides business loans to small and medium businesses in India at very competitive interest rates, nominal processing fees, with absolutely no hidden charges. These features make FinTech companies like Capital Float some of the most preferred lenders in the present small business loan market.

5- Collateral free finance

Business loans provide financial support to a very wide range of SMEs, such as B2B service providers, manufacturers, traders, or distributors. Companies like Capital Float work as a partner to provide seamless support to SMEs in fulfilling their dreams. You can avail collateral-free finance, which doesn’t require you to pledge any property or asset to get a business loan. Your business is evaluated based on the strength of your cash flows and expected receivables. Any SME with a minimum of one year of business operations can avail of such business loans.

Very few lenders really believe in embracing new ideas with open arms. New-age lenders however are more willing to invest in new ideas. Capital Float, for instance, provides small business loans to new-age businesses in India along with financing the needs of traditional businesses.

Oct 24, 2018