Restaurant Guide: What to do when crisis hit home?

Adversities come and go - but some stick around for a while, just like the notorious COVID-19. Truth be told, encountering adversity is inevitable. It is a part of our human life. But how do you think successful businesses are able to overcome the setbacks? The math is simple - they evolve. 

In our recent survey, we asked restaurants what the biggest challenges they faced when during a pandemic shutdown? What do they fear the most? How certain are they about the future of their business? How helpful were restaurant technologies in keeping the business open? The results weren’t surprising. 

52% of American restaurants confirmed that getting customers to order from them became the biggest challenge during the pandemic outbreak. Trust and hygiene became the two most harrowing issues that needed to be addressed. 

32% of operators agreed that creating an adversity-proof restaurant business that is backed by technology has become more important than ever. 

71% of restaurant operators agreed that pivoting to technologies such as online ordering, mobile ordering, and contactless solutions helped them stay afloat during the crisis. 

Keeping in mind the shift in consumer behavior and subsequent demand, it is important for restaurant operators to take note of the changes happening around them, the evolving needs of their customers as well as the tools and resources available.

In the age of high-connectivity devices, it’s no longer a challenge to keep a track of market trends and adapt to the changes, henceforth. Understanding what to do, when to do, and what not to do can help you stay firm so you can thrive well. 

The things that restaurants should do during a crisis 

Cut short your menu - As a restaurant, you cannot be everything to everyone. Even if you offer a multi-cuisine experience to your customers, having fewer than 50 items on your menu is the only way to ensure optimum food quality and a smooth customer experience. There are a number of benefits of having a small menu, but more importantly, it helps boost profitability, which can definitely save your falling restaurant!

Offer value meals - You know what’s The Greatest Menu Hack for Budget-conscious customers? Offering budget combo meals that can feed a family of four or five. The decreased purchasing power of customers due to furloughs and ruthless layoffs has drastically increased the demand for Family Meal Kits. Making them a part of your menu will definitely attract sales, as well as reduce inventory costs. 

Offer Curbside Delivery - One cannot deny that during emergency situations like COVID-19 waves, people usually refrain from dining out. Dine-in at a restaurant is supposed to be a fun, and relaxing experience that may not be achieved during stressful situations. However, your customers still want to continue having their favorite meals from your restaurant. Hence, starting a curbside pickup is one of the best options to add to your sales channels. It is also an excellent way to boost the bottom line as restaurants don’t have to invest in delivery and logistics infrastructure. They can use the existing infrastructure coupled with an online ordering system to enable curbside ordering. 

According to COVID-19 And The Future Of Commerce, a survey by Medallia Zingle, 87% of respondents believe restaurants and brands should continue to offer curbside pickup and limit in-person interactions. 

Invest in Right Technology (if not done already)- Technology has been instrumental in helping restaurants survive the pandemic and also be prepared for further challenges. There's no better time than right now to integrate technology into your restaurant's daily operations, sales, performance management, and guest retention.

An exclusive online ordering system like Restolabs, offers high-powered features like easy delivery management and control for multi-restaurants, simple to use menu configuration dashboard, real-time order notifications, QR scan ordering, payment gateway integration with various providers, and much more. Get a complete list of features here

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Right marketing strategies - The business is not usual during adversity. There may be additional costs restaurants have to bear that may include delivery vendors, sanitization, PPE Kits, medical insurance, etc. It is important to create a marketing plan that works during such a crisis. It would pay to create campaigns that directly communicate with your audience and keep your brand on top of their minds. During adversities, businesses that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs can gain loyal customers for life. 

Things restaurants should not do

Do not compromise with food safety - Since most restaurants are working with reduced manpower, there have been many instances where daily inspections and food safety checks are missed. As an owner, you should not let that happen.

Get an instant overview of food safety compliance at your restaurant, get organic supplies and also offer only fresh ingredients. According to the American Frozen Food Institute, 72% percent of frozen food consumers combine frozen and fresh ingredients.

Do not compromise on general safety - You have to ensure all your staff's temperature is checked twice or thrice daily. According to COVID-19 And The Future Of Commerce, 46% of respondents said they would be more inclined to visit a place if it communicated its health and safety protocols proactively, while another 39% rated that as somewhat important.

In case of any signs of covid symptoms, get them tested and even another staff member. Also, check the temperature of all customers coming to your restaurant. Keep the sanitizer at the entry door and on all tables. Ensure every staff is masked all the time and there is minimum possible contact with customers.

Do not overspend without a plan - We don't know how long any adversity or crisis will continue, and hence you should not overspend on marketing and promotions. Maintain a budget forecast sheet and prepare for the worst-case scenario. It is essential to mention that not overspending does not mean that you do not invest in the right places. Make sure to invest in the right technologies, infrastructure, and staff if that helps you stay relevant and open.  

DON’T give up on your restaurant. It’s might seem difficult to pivot or change business strategies overnight, but that doesn’t mean you should give up! Look out for options and invest in sales channels that allow you to expand your offerings. Mobile Ordering, Curbside Ordering, Online Ordering are a few channels you can add to reach your customers, as well as attract new ones. 

Conclusion

Making changes according to the current situation is about repurposing what you are doing currently. You don't have to reinvent the wheel or do something out of the box. You just have to be agile and honest with what you do. One important thing is to tread ahead in a caring, and empathetic manner to create real connections that will outlive the social and economic impacts of the crisis. 


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