As grim news spreads across the country even the most optimistic of restaurants are finding it more and more likely that they’re going to face another form of a shutdown. This time it’s going to be different everywhere and a restaurant’s ability to adapt as quickly as things change is going to be key to their survival.
“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail” is the old saying and now that you’ve already been around the block once you should, unfortunately, be quite familiar with this situation. But how can you prepare yourself for a second wave of limited operations, shutdowns, or something different?
What Did We Learn?
The first thing any management team should do is sit down with a pen and paper and ask the following questions: What went well? What went badly? What other equipment, be it PPE, to-go boxes, software, or hardware, will make this experience better for our staff and our customers? What do we need to work on? What actions or undertakings have we seen in other businesses that we can use in our own business? The answers to these questions will help you plan for any eventualities to come as well as to keep improving, no matter what the world throws at you.
You might sit down as a management team but you should also propose these questions to your staff. As frontline team members they may have key insights, for both their own and the customer’s experience, which you do not. This also shows them that you’re thinking about them during these trying times.
Contactless, Contactless, Contactless
As an emphasis on masks, hand washing, and sanitizing increases the general public is becoming hyperaware of anything they touch, or any contact they have with another person outside of their family or household unit. Promoting contactless pickup and delivery is one way in which you can provide your guests with peace of mind.
Another element of contactless-ness to add to your arsenal are contactless payments. We discussed contactless payment in a previous post and with the rise in awareness of, and aversion to, communal items such as pin pad and pens offering contactless payments are an excellent way to make your customers feel at ease. Many machines already have this function built-in but if your’s doesn’t Toast’s Toast Tap™ contactless payment solution is sleek and easy to install.
Increase Your Ordering Options
The transition to pickup and delivery was just the beginning of everything for restaurants at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This part of business is now as familiar as serving tables but how can you elevate other elements of your business to increase customer satisfaction and comfort?
Firstly, you need a first-party app service like Lunchbox then, using their additional add-ons, you can take advantage of things such as in-app ordering to reduce the number of contact points between your staff and customers sat at your tables. You can also choose to add kiosks to your location so that customers can safely and securely place orders without having to interact with a member of staff; these kiosks are excellent for people placing to-go orders outside!
QR Code Menus
Instead of burning through huge batches of paper menus every day why not have QR codes on your tables and in your windows so that guests can easily download and view a copy of your menu on their personal device. If you’re using a first-party app service then you can even have this direct them to your menu on your app so that they can order directly from their device, thus increasing the likeliness that they’ll actually place an order with you, rather than just peruse your menu and move on.
Increase Your Presence
With fewer people out browsing the high streets getting out in front of potential customers is imperative to a restaurant’s survival. For those that are still out there make sure that you have signage -out on the street if possible- displaying your offerings and how those customers can order from your business. You should also use your window space to display to your customers the practices you’ve put in place to ensure the safety of them and your employees.
With more and more people at home screen-time and usage for all social media apps on the rise. This means that online adverts are going to hit more potential customers. Making sure that you’re regularly posting to your social media accounts will also garner you more attention and show your followers that you’re still open and there as a dining option for them.
You, hopefully, have an email marketing strategy connecting you to your most loyal customers. Use this platform not only for targeted adverts, but also to let them know what is going on with your business; whether your patio is open, whether you’re doing contactless takeout and delivery orders, and anything else you may be doing to keep them and your other customers safe.
COVID-19 is, again, going to turn the world of many restauranteurs and workers upside down. Being prepared for this is crucial to any location’s survival and taking the above points into consideration means restaurant managers and owners can ensure that they’re on the front foot as soon as any restrictions are imposed in their locality. One of the main focuses of your strategy should be customer and employee safety and promoting this element of your strategy will be a key part in its success.
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