As a restaurateur, your main priority should be the safety of your team and your guests. Once you have got that down, you will need to figure out creative marketing strategies and proactive ways to stay afloat during a lower dine-in business period.
In this article, we will look at strategies and tips to help restaurants minimize the coronavirus’s revenue impact and drive new revenue where possible. We will also look at the precautions that restaurants need to take to accept dine-in guests, how they can streamline operations, and promotional initiatives they can take to drive revenue.
Make your restaurant feel like a safe spot for guests.
The first step is to make sure that your restaurant is as clean as possible. It would be best if you disinfected constantly. Pay attention to surfaces that customers touch, like light switches and doors, and any system that circulates air. You should provide antibacterial gloves for your team, especially if they are handling cash.
Don’t just clean for the sake of cleaning and making your restaurant safe. You need to ensure your customers that your restaurant is a safe space from what’s going on. A way to do that is to show that you are always wiping down tables and chairs after each guest leaves. It would be best if you also showcased that you are frequent and committed to your restaurant’s sanitation. It would be best if you showcased your efforts to the patrons who come to your restaurant and broadcast it on social media so that potential customers will see your efforts.
OPEN UP YOUR RESERVATION POLICIES
There will be a lower rate of walk-ins and new bookings, which means that you should plan to overbook more than usual. It would help if you considered changing a few things from before. For example, if you charge a no-show fee for customers, you should revisit your cancellation policies and waive it to see that you want them in the door. It would help if you also considered making changes to your floorplan because some restaurants are removing tables to accommodate the social distancing regulations.
It would be best if you communicated with guests to confirm existing reservations so that you can minimize no-shows. It is also an excellent way to reassure your potential customers of the precautions you are taking, and you can even offer any promotions you have to get them through the door; you can provide a complimentary appetizer, drink, loyalty rewards, and anything else that pertains to your business.
PREPARE YOUR STAFF TO DEAL WITH SICK CUSTOMERS
General sanitization is crucial if you want to remain open during social distancing. How do you react when a customer starts coughing or sneezing? The important thing is that you don’t start to panic. You can implement something like checking customers’ temperatures at the door and denying entry to anyone who refuses or shows symptoms.
At the same time, you can also train your staff on how to react when a customer does start showing symptoms like equipping staff with personal protective equipment like gloves and masks, appearing promptly on the spot with tissues or napkins, offering the guest sanitizer or another disinfectant, preparing to put guests in touch with medical resources, thoroughly disinfecting every table, utensil, glass, and surface that the guest has touched.
Your main priority should be to protect your employees and make the other customers feel safe. You need to make sure that your team has a plan in place for dealing with a sick customer.
IDENTIFY NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR COST SAVINGS
With revenue at a low, you need to figure out ways to cost savings. Some solutions have been to reduce staffing and hours of operation, but there are some other things that you can implement to right-size your business costs.
Analyze POS data for food cost savings
You need to understand that you will most likely be ordering a smaller amount of food or supplies. You need to look at menu items that you can temporarily eliminate and which one your customers really like so you can keep it on the menu. You will inform you’re purchasing them by looking at recent purchase history from your POS system.
Partner with nearby restaurants
There should be no competition at this point; it should be a partnership of restaurants trying to help each other. So, try and find and take the opportunity to partner with a local restaurant to share kitchen space, resources, staff, and supplies so that both can stay afloat.
TIPS FOR DRIVING REVENUE DURING CORONAVIRUS
Don’t settle for reactive, defensive measures to fight the slowdown. Now is a time to engage your loyal customers and find creative ways to bring them in when things return to normal.
INVEST MORE RESOURCES INTO MARKETING
You should implement social media and email marketing to keep traffic up during this period. You can also put more inventory on booking channels. You can also promote food holiday events because even if diners are going to restaurants less frequently, they might still come together and enjoy a meal for significant events like birthdays, graduations, and more.
This is why it’s essential to market your restaurant as a particularly sanitary environment: if you can convince guests that you’re offering a safe place, where better for families to meet?
TURN YOUR RESTAURANT INTO A COMMUNITY HUB
Market your restaurant as a safe place to gather. Reach out to your local customers and encourage them to come in for a lunch promotion; print up T-shirts; make it a genuine place of social gathering — again, a refuge — and you’ll probably end up making them into long-term customers.
Take care of your locals so that they can take care of each other.
MARKET GIFT CARDS
You can create creative gift cards for your community of loyal guests to help your customers make plans to return to “normal.” You can market it as a community-minded purchase for customers who want to help your restaurant survive the crisis with a bit of cash flow.
MAKE MARKETING HYPER-PERSONALIZED
Your regulars are the ones that are going to help you out during this period. They are people that already see themselves as part of your community. You should engage with them because they are the ones you know, and you can cater to better than anyone else.
You can reach out to them through personal letters or any other contact information you may have about them. It would help if you let them know that you are open, safe and that their business is welcomed now more than ever. When they do come to the restaurant, you should personalize service and create a space where they are genuinely comfortable. If they realize that they are appreciated, they may bring more customers to you.
It is essential to use this economic slowdown as a chance to build real relationships. Your restaurant exists and is in the business of selling human experiences and connections that are more important than the food and finances. Your restaurant can be where people come to get that connection back by offering your community a safe place to come together. People are still scared to gather in groups, which can significantly scow both the economy and society. So, make sure that you provide a safe space.
While it is possible to do marketing and public relations yourself, it is sometimes just more comfortable and less stressful to hire someone to do it for you because, as mentioned before, it can be time-consuming. PR professionals are there for a reason. They know what needs to be done to create an effective marketing strategy. Companies like Pressfarm are there to make everything that a company needs from email pitches, press releases, among other things so that companies can send them out and reap the benefits. They will guide and help in any way necessary to focus on different aspects of your restaurant.