These external spaces are of course a great asset to your business, which you want to make the most of and promote to attract customers both old and new. They can also make you stand out from your competitors during the ever-challenging times with the cost-of-living crisis continuing and make you a ‘go-to’ venue during the nice weather.
However, it is important to remember your neighbours as while your customers may be enjoying the sunshine and your outside space, your neighbours may not be enjoying it so much if there is too much noise and they are being disturbed.
This could mean that you find yourself in a position where you receive complaints from your neighbours in respect of noise which could, in the worst-case scenario, lead to local residents or environmental health officers taking action.
Preparation is key here and so it is important that you plan the use of your outside areas and how you manage them. Putting the work in at the outset to try and ensure everything runs smoothly can reduce the number of issues you have while using any outside areas during the nice weather.
Here are some tips you may wish to consider following to ensure a stress free summer while using your outside spaces:
- Ensure your staff are aware of the importance of your outside areas to your business and its continued success during the summer months.
- Check your premises licence for conditions restricting the use of your outside areas and make sure your staff are aware of them and enforce them. There may be, for example, a condition which restricts the time of use.
- Remind your staff of the importance of building relationships with your neighbours, customers or not, and that they should take on board and deal with any complaints from neighbours.
- Train staff in how to deal with a complaint should they get one. It is important that these are dealt with promptly and politely as this can make all the difference to how things progress.
- On the flip side you should also train your staff in how to deal with troublesome customers in your outside areas, particularly if they are being increasingly noisy. Ideally prevention is better than a cure and so if you can avoid the noise complaint then it is even better.
- Ensure that you have sufficient staff working during times when your outside areas are open so that they can monitor the area(s) to help with the management of noise.
- Make sure ALL your staff are aware of your complaints procedure. A complaint can come in at any time and so it is important that it is not just senior staff who are aware of the process.
- Keep records of any complaints and steps taken to deal with the complaint so that you have these for future reference.
- The key is to be engaged with any complainant and show an interest in their concerns. Remember, it is unlikely that if you ignore them or fob them off they will go away.
- If the complaint is escalated to a formal complaint and the local authority become involved then it is also important to engage with them, build relationships and advise of the action you are taking.
If you do not deal with noise complaints promptly and professionally then this could cause issues with future applications to your local authority if the resident objects, or the resident could bring a review against your premises licence.