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COVID-19 Updates & Strategy

Lunchbox Editorial

The COVID-19 is the biggest challenge the restaurant industry has faced in the last hundred years. As information is constantly changing, we want to make it easy on you by highlighting all important updates in one place. Below is a live blog with weekly updates meant to keep you fully informed!

Hey there!

I just wanted to make sure that youre giving all of your listings a second glance and making sure that they are pointing to your online ordering platforms. And if you dont have a list of them its no problem!

Heres a bunch of popular ones that you can start off with along with instructions on how to change them:

Google Business (tutorial)

By the far the one that you want to change first since it gets the most internet traffic out of all the other platforms.

Instagram (tutorial)

Projected to hit 112.5 million U.S users in 2020, this Facebook company allows you to select your own action item and link out to it!

Facebook (tutorial)

Big goliath itself has a call-to-action button on your business page that you can change to order now and set to your ordering website!
 

Yelp (tutorial)

This one can be done pretty easily as well, you just need to contact your rep to replace your call to action button to order online and provide your website URL.

Twitter (tutorial)

Everyone wants to talk about their favorite restaurants that help right now, give them a chance by making sure your profile is up-to-date.

TripAdvisor (tutorial)

A top-five review site that boasts 535 million reviews published on your site. Definitely a contender to get in front of more eyes.

Bing (tutorial)

85% of Bings users are in the U.S and over the age over the age of 35, they carry a small market share of total search volume but everything helps!

Welcome to the new week.

The white house coronavirus task force outlined guidelines when reopening businesses which includes a three-phased approach for the hospitality industry, with sit-down dining opening up first.

Multiple criteria must be met for jurisdictions to pass the first gateway into phase one, including a downward trajectory of documented COVID-19 cases and documented cases of those with COVID-like symptoms, both over a 14-day period.

Here is the Link to the guidelines and an overview of the phases to Opening Up America:

Phase One:

Large venues (including sit-down dining) can operate under Strict Physical Distancing protocols. Visits to Senior Living Facilities and Hospitals should be Prohibited. Gyms can open if they adhere to Strict Physical Distancing and Sanitation Protocols.

Phase Two:

Allows schools, restaurants, and bars to reopen with diminished occupancy. Non-essential travel can resume, and people can gather in groups no larger than 50, but teleworking is still encouraged. Visits to senior living facilities, however, should remain and hospitals prohibited.

Phase Three:

Allows workplaces to reopen with no restrictions, and visits to senior care centers and hospitals can resume, while continuing the good hygiene practices, continuing the respect for spaces between individuals.

Well continue to keep you posted on the events regarding COVID-19.

Feel free to message us here in Lunchbox if you have any questions.

Third-Party Outages – Friday, April 17, 2020

The quick and short of it is: Doordash is experiencing outages with their dasher service, the marketplace, and any merchant dashboard.

We have turned off delivery for all of our clients that are/were depending on Doordash’s dasher service. Our team has been monitoring their server responses to our system and judging by the way their main website is behaving, we recommend not using the dasher service for the rest of the evening.

Employee Relief – Thursday, April 16, 2020

We understand that a lot of operators had to layoff a lot of their staff with a heavy heart but still want whats best for them. Our team put together a list of programs that can be utilized by anyone affected by the recent pandemic especially in the restaurant space:

National Level:

The Lee Initiative

This program turned restaurants across the country into relief centers offering food and supplies to be picked-up on a first-come, first served basis.

Restaurant Strong Fund

Offering financial assistance in 20 states to restaurant workers employed for three(3) months or more.

Children of Restaurant Employees

Applicants due to COVID-19 must either have someone living within their home has tested positive or have a qualifying condition for their regular grant program. 

Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Program

Provides emergency funding to those employees/employers of restaurants/bars or restaurant/bar suppliers that are faced by unforeseen expenses that cannot or will not be covered by insurance.

State or City Specific:

California

We provide one-time financial support to cover basic living expenses such as rent, food and utilities as someone works through a crisis.

As part of the federal CARES Act, the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program helps unemployed Californians who are business owners, self-employed, independent contractors, have limited work history, and others not usually eligible for regular state UI benefits who are out of business or services are significantly reduced as a direct result of the pandemic.

Tennessee

A two-part process application offering up to $1000 grant to individuals who meet the criteria.

Texas

Assisting individuals and small businesses most negatively impacted by the cancellation of SXSW and least able to recover on their own.

Seattle

A $500 emergency relief grant for necessary expenses if you do not qualify for federal assistance or unemployment insurance, or until you receive those benefits.

Washington D.C.

Distributing care kits and family meals Monday-Saturday 6-8pm for industry workers in Washington D.C.

Access to unemployment and benefits of D.C. employees who lost a job or significant hours due to COVID-19 public health emergency.

We want to be a partner in everything thats been going on. If youre aware of other programs or relief funds not listed above, please drop a line with us.

NEW PRODUCT: Curbside Pickup – Tuesday, April 07, 2020

We’ve a got a new way for you to make life easier for your guests ????

In another step to help your guests feel safer about everything that’s going on we came up with away for guests to request curbside pickup. Here’s how you can set it up!

  • Create a menu in Toast called “Packing Instructions”.
  • Create your menu groups e.g “Curbside”, “Utensils” etc .
  • Inside the menu, group is where you want to add an item called
    “Please deliver this to my car, I will call when I arrive”.
  • You can have a different name in Toast for you staff and a different name for guests via Lunchbox

Let me know when you’re done setting this up and we’ll get this live!

Cares Packages – Monday, April 6, 2020

Were seeing sales pick up across the board for all of our restaurant partners! ????
We also noticed that some of our restaurant partners are trying to give back to hospitals and staff fighting the pandemic through various landing pages and wanted to propose a solution.

You can set up a menu dedicated solely towards collecting funds for your relief meals!

  • Start by building this in your point of sales dashboard, adjust prices as needed.
  • Add a couple of group meal tiers for relief meals (recommended).
  • For item pictures, use pictures of your drop-off events at hospitals (if any).
  • Use the descriptions to feature hospitals that youre working with.
  • You can also edit the section description to let guests know how youre using the funds.

UPDATE: CARES Act Loans – Friday, April 3, 2020

We want to be a partner in everything thats been going on. If youve been monitoring the situation, its been a little confusing with today being a false-start for most banks.

Heres a list of all the banks with various statuses on the application process/status as well. Were hearing about folks having a lot more success with getting applications approved with local/smaller banks. If you have such a relationship, we encourage you to use it for the PPP loan.

CARES Act Loans – Wednesday, April 1 , 2020

Who can apply?

The program is for any small business with less than 500 employees including proprietorship, independent contractors and self-employed individuals.

Important: Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible at the store and location level, if the store employs less than 500 workers. This means each store location could be eligible.

(more info)

How do I apply?

The application was posted on the Treasury Departments CARES Act resource page on Tuesday afternoon, download it here. The application is pretty straight forward and will need to be accomplished by the majority shareholder(s) of the business. You will also need to send the application directly to the bank that you do business with. Applications will start being processed April 3rd, this Friday.

When will the funding become available?

Steve Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary mentioned that loans will be made available starting Friday which was later confirmed by SBA officials this morning.

How does it work?

The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months with no collateral or personal guarantees required.

Make sure you have the application filled out and are in communication with your bank immediately, experts are anticipating oversubscription and the funds not being enough.

Grants & Loans – Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The recent round of layoffs have been tough on everyone from the employees to the operators releasing them. We found a couple of programs that might be able to help both in the short-term:

Employee Aid

The restaurant employee relief fund will provide restaurant industry employees who have been affected by COVID-19 a $500 grant per person. Applications will open tomorrow 4/2/2020. See eligibility here.

NYC Small Business Loan

To help NYC businesses with the economic impact of the current pandemic, businesses with fewer than 100 employees that can show at least a 25% decrease in revenue can apply for a interest free loan up to $75,000. See eligibility here

Life After COVID-19 – Monday, March 30, 2020

Over the last few weeks here at Lunchbox, we noticed a huge (obvious) shift in priority when it comes to off-premise ordering and the goals of the restaurant industry altogether.
We encourage you to exercise thinking about how life – after this pandemic – will look like so we can begin planning for it now:

Hiring becomes harder

As if it wasnt hard enough already, finding/convincing talent to stick around in the restaurant industry is going to be even harder. Workers are going to look at restaurants a lot differently.

Skeleton crews become normal

Its not just restaurants, guests are going to have a hard time rebounding from this as well. With guests becoming even more conscious of social distancing, your dine-in traffic will take a while to fill back up again.

Self-ordering your meal

With a smaller staff, restaurants are going to need to keep up with increased traffic and new hygienic preferences. Kiosks, voice ordering, and apps with pay-at-the-table technology will start to become even more appealing to build a bridge to profitability.

Digital marketing revamp

Everyones going to be thinking about attracting new customers and engaging existing ones in the digital space. ROI on ad spend and the role of marketer will have renewed scrutiny/importance in your restaurants.

Advertising Funds – Saturday, March 28, 2020

Just wanted to follow up on our last email about paid media with this one focusing on grants/credits to run those ads in the near future.

Facebook 

  • Facebook just announced this recently, they’re offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for 30,000 eligible small businesses.
  • There’s no official word on the criteria but you can make sure that you sign up here for updates. 

Google Ads 

  • Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, detailed the entire $800M fund for crisis response and small business assistance, 340M of that in Google Ads credit to all SMBs.
  • This is not happening immediately but SMBs that used Google Ads since the beginning of 2019 will see a credit notification appear in the coming months.

Social Media Strategy – Friday, March 27, 2020

Were all adjusting to the moving landscape of the current climate and that includes your social media marketing efforts. Heres how we’re optimizing different audiences on paid media ads and what offerings they should get.
*Paid media = fancier term for Facebook & Instagram ads.

Prospecting ?

  • Only start here if youve got the budget to find out who your customers are!
  • This will take most of your budget, probably around 40-50%.
  • The offering for these customers, because they are first time customers, needs to be aggressive. Weve seen $5 off for spending $25 or 20% OFF discounts work well here!
  • When youre making the creative: make sure you keep it moving, by using gifs or videos.

Retargeting ????

  • If youre looking to get sales faster and sooner, spend your budget here. These are customers that have bought from you before!
  • Leverage your existing Facebook pixel to find a guest that havent transacted in the last 14 days (before it all went south).
  • You’ll want to target people that have bought from you before by uploading a list of your buyers.
  • The offering for these customers doesnt have to be AS aggressive. Give em a free side that’s easy on your food cost. Free fries/drinks do well here.

Re-engagement ????

  • Target folks that have purchased via your platforms in the past 30 days but exclude people that transacted in the last 3-5 days.
  • Weve already set up your Facebook pixel to be live and tracking this information so it should be straight forward to set this up.
  • The offering can be a LOT less aggressive maybe something similar to 10% OFF.

Stimulus & Restaurants – Thursday, March 26, 2020

Heres a quick overview about what this bill means for restaurants.
The bill calls for appropriating about $349 billion in backing for small business loans!

Payroll assistance

  • Restaurants with less than 500 employees and more than one location borrow 4 times their monthly fees or 10 Million, whichever is higher.
  • Eligibility will not be based on the applicants ability to repay at the current time or near future.
  • Funds can be used for payroll, paid sick and family leave, insurance premiums, mortgage payments, rent and utility charges with interest rates being capped at 4%.

Loan forgiveness

  • Small business borrowers will be forgiven for the portions of their loans that are used for employee compensation and certain other business maintenance costs.
  • Specifically, the forgiven amount is what the borrower spent on payroll, mortgage and rent obligations, and utility costs.  

Unemployment payments: 

  • Restaurant employees that were laid off will be entitled to an additional payment of $600 per week for four months.  
  • More help for employees: The bill will ask provide a one time payment of $1,200 to restaurant employees and other citizens earning less than an annual rate of $75,000.

Deferred payroll taxes

  • Restaurants and other businesses that have continued to pay employees during the COVID-19 crisis will be refunded the payroll taxes paid on 50% of the wages.
  • Eligibility is limited to enterprises that have been forced to close or have suffered a 50% drop in revenues from a year ago.
  • Social Security taxes will be deferred. Half will be due on Dec. 31, 2021, and the remaining half will be due a year later.

We’ll keep sending over regular updates as they come up, until then read everything in detail here.

Meal Kits – Thursday, March 26, 2020

Some restaurants have been turning into grocery stores, and others have been creating meal kits to help their guests have fun cooking great food, all while staying inside! 

How can you do this?

  • Identify packaging for your sauces or seasoning and proteins.
  • Try to use your existing to-go packaging for the item, also a great time to utilize any catering packaging that is going unused.
  • Set up a menu section for meal-kits at the beginning of your menu and build the requirements customers need to select in the modifiers.
  • Brand it well! Pitch it to your guests and a “Dinner night special” or a “Quarantine BBQ”.
  • Sell to your existing buyers, it’s the advantage that restaurants have over meal-kit companies: people love your food!

This can also be a great chance to have a little fun with your brand in these stressful times, some restaurants sent toilet paper to their guests!

????See how Seoul Taco in St. Louis is doing it.
????Margarita kits can be your way to an amazing happy hour.

DOH Inspections – Wednesday, March 25, 2020

We’ve heard rumblings of various restaurants getting visits from the Departments of Health. Here’s a couple of things you want to make sure are being taken into account:

  • Make sure all your staff is working 6ft apart all the time.
  • Maintain in-store signage instructing guests to stay 6ft away from each other, and from your counter/ordering area as well
  • If your restaurant’s waiting areas have filled up to capacity, feel free to request your guests to wait outside for safety reasons.
  • If you have tables, make sure they are turned up so the restaurant doesn’t appear to be providing a dine-in option for guests.

We’ll keep you posted about anything else headed your way!

Great American Takeout – Monday, March 23, 2020

I came across this campaign by your fellow restauranteurs on Twitter and major food publications, here’s what you need to know: A coalition of restaurants recently got together and decided to ask U.S consumers to help the industry by ordering takeout or delivery tomorrow, Tuesday March 24th, 2020.

They’re calling it “The Great American Takeout”.

Whos part of the coalition? 

California Pizza Kitchen, Chevys Fresh Mex, El Torito, The Habit Restaurants Inc., Jasons Deli, Lemonade, Modern Market, Qdoba Mexican Eats Noodles & Company, Panera Bread and Veggie Grill to name a few.

How can you participate in it?

  • Poston social media in advance of the event, encouraging friends and followers to take part with the Hashtag #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. 
  • Engage friendsfamilyand colleagues to support their local restaurants by ordering takeout meals.
  • Order delivery or pick-up for at least one meal on Tuesday, sharing photos on social media and tagging them with #TheGreatAmericanTakeout.
     

You can also reach the coalition team on social media, including @TheGATakeouton Twitter and @thegreatamericantakeout on Instagram.

Business Listings – Sunday, March 22, 2020

I just wanted to make sure that youre giving all of your listings a second glance and making sure that they are pointing to your online ordering platforms. And if you dont have a list of them its no problem!

Heres a bunch of popular ones that you can start off with along with instructions on how to change them:

Google Business (tutorial)

By the far the one that you want to change first since it gets the most internet traffic out of all the other platforms.

Instagram (tutorial)

Projected to hit 112.5 million U.S users in 2020, this Facebook company allows you to select your own action item and link out to it!

Facebook (tutorial)

Big goliath itself has a call-to-action button on your business page that you can change to order now and set to your ordering website!

Yelp (tutorial)

This one can be done pretty easily as well, you just need to contact your rep to replace your call to action button to order online and provide your website URL.

Twitter (tutorial)

Everyone wants to talk about their favorite restaurants that help right now, give them a chance by making sure your profile is up-to-date.

TripAdvisor (tutorial)

A top-five review site that boasts 535 million reviews published on your site. Definitely a contender to get in front of more eyes.

Bing (tutorial)

85% of Bings users are in the U.S and over the age over the age of 35, they carry a small market share of total search volume but everything helps!

Marketing 101 – Saturday, March 21, 2020

We wanted to make sure that youre looking at off-premise ordering channels with a brand new perspective and consider some new digital strategies to get some wind back in your sails.

Your Advantage:

Food is still one of the most exciting experiences people can have right now.

Paid Media Marketing:

By far one of the best ways to increase sales in the current climate! Everyone is at home and spending more time on their screens! i.e Facebook, Instagram, Google, Netflix

Print Marketing

Third-party platforms are focusing on marketing their platforms now that everyone is at home. If you have your 3rd party marketplaces on, its time to piggyback off that traffic and use flyers to let folks know you have a native ordering platform! The conversions to your native platforms can help save every extra dime and nickel.

Email Campaigns

Create segments of your buyers from the last 60 days reminding them you’re kitchens are open for delivery and takeout. It’s also a great time to showcase the steps youre taking to ensure food safety for your guests.

If you need a detailed consultation with us, feel free to reply to this email and well get back on any of the topics mentioned above!

P.S. heres some good news. We all need to hear some:

  • Are food deliveries safe for your guests? Short answer: Yes. – Read more
  • Most people with COVID-19 will recover – Read more
  • Ground zero for COVID-19 outbreak reports no new cases – Read more

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