For restaurant owners who are striving to regain a foothold in a declining hospitality industry, the solution is to devise new strategies in a drastically altered environment. As businesses re-open, everyone – owners such as yourself, as well as your staff and your customers – will all be at a lost as to how to go about with the “new normal”. In the noble duty of deciding to stay the course, however, business owners carry a burden of responsibility in risking their finances against consequences where success leans more on uncertainty. A big part of this responsibility is in manifesting an optimistic view of operating in the present with the full view of the future in mind. This means seeing this new start as a big opportunity to explore and innovate.
Ironically, the only big certainty that these consequences have brought us is that the hospitality industry will unlikely return to its old ways 100%. Fortunately, the hospitality industry has always been known to be a vanguard when it comes to innovation. This pandemic may have caught us all off-guard at the onset, but innovators and businesses will rise from the slump that it has caused, as long as the ideals of creativity, open-mindedness and determination prevail.
We have compiled a list of 10 best ways on how your restaurant can survive these adjustments:
1. It's Time to Re-Assemble
With the slew of disruptions that this pandemic has caused across large and small organizations, this may be the best time to streamline your strategies, processes, and company roles. There is a new call for personnel and teams that can address bottlenecks to reopening through crisis management. You will have to designate trustworthy leaders that can cope with a more dynamic environment. This logical approach also applies if you want to adopt a working environment that relies on shared data, such as predominant digital marketing strategies. Assign the right, knowledgeable, trainable staff who can deal with your business’ specific requirements.
You can read more about creating a crisis management plan for your business here.
2. Your Brand Is 24/7
Your restaurant’s brand transcends its physical location, so you should always take advantage of online digital marketing. Whether your premises are fully or partially open, your digital presence is always accessible. So, it’s best to invest heavily on online platforms. Since a lot of people are mostly online at home these days, increase your visibility, especially through ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media networks.
Read more about digital marketing channels on one of our previously posted blogs here.
3. Food Service
Strict measures on social distancing have greatly limited spaces on premises and have put barriers on customer interaction and mass gatherings. You can instead transform these spaces into service spaces. But if you would want to retain stage spaces, you can utilize your venue for livestream performances. There are various innovations that you can do with your premises without compromising safety.
You can also opt to set up self-service stations for your customers or reshape your overall strategy to accommodate take-out and pick-up-only services.
4. Safety Always
The drastic changes in our environment have instilled a real, deep-seated fear among our staff and customers. By promptly addressing their fears about safety and hygiene, you as a business owner, can then also quickly get back to fulfilling your plans to return to normalcy and being back in business. You will want to post your safety policies online so be extra keen that these are strictly being observed.
Here are a few ideas on some of these safety measures:
- Replace paper receipts with e-receipts.
- You can use digital screens for your menus. Substitute paper and plastic menus with touch screens that have antimicrobial protectors.
- Always be mindful of cleaning your POS terminals after each transaction, more so after another staff uses it.
- Highlight all your advanced safety procedures, especially on social media. You can also get feedback from your customers on what measures they want to see implemented. If an idea is feasible enough to make them comfortable, then you may want to look into it.
5. Support Your Staff
Your plans to keep your business afloat will be harder to accomplish without a dependable workforce behind it. But they will also need your utmost support from the stress brought about by this pandemic, from your decision to reopen up to the foreseeable future. Ensuring their safety is one thing, but keeping tabs on their mental health from time to time, is another. Stay in touch and keep a close watch on their well-being. Conduct team meetings, both in-person or virtually, to keep morale raised. Keep your communication lines always open via mobile messaging apps.
6. Reach Out
Everyone is affected by this crisis, including your colleagues and competitors in the hospitality industry. You are all in the same sector, and some may also be in the same community, but these unfortunate circumstances call for helping each other in getting everybody back to a sustainable position. Communicate on how you can promote each other’s businesses, such as cross-selling your services and products on your respective ads or even giving out discount codes to customers who patronize both of your businesses.
For your customers, be sure you have clear, accessible lines of communication. If they have any inquiries or complaints, make it clear in your marketing materials on what numbers to call and where to send their messages. Print these on banners or posters on your premises, and have these visible on your online posts.
7. Use Your Time Wisely
If you have more downtime available, make the most of it by devising new marketing strategies, looking into upgrades for your business, practicing new tools, or training your staff. Think of delving into photography so you can upgrade food shots for your menu. Anything “Instagrammable” can be easily shared on social networks. You may also now have time to clean-up or update your databases, especially any lists coming from your POS.
8. Sell More Merchandise
Increase your catalog of offerings by adding merchandise for sale. If you can find a dependable supplier that you want to support, have them make more merchandise for your restaurant. This opens up the option of a retail component for your business if you don’t already have it. Ensure that your goods will be fully visible and easily browsable both on your premises and in your digital online catalog. At this time where everyone’s at home, these goods that carry your brand name will make it easy for your customers to order from you again because of quick recall.
9. Go Virtual
Adding new, interesting developments to your business can help you stand out. This includes being visible on popular trends on social media channels like Youtube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. You can showcase your food by making enticing videos about them. Even better is if you can sustain a channel that’s hosted by your chefs or bartenders. You can produce videos where they’re preparing famous meals, desserts, or signature drinks. Much like what we’ve mentioned before, you can arrange a space in your premises for these videos. Maybe even create fixtures or have a set fabricated where your visitors can pose on so they can share their photos on social media. Inviting social media influencers to visit your set or even endorse your videos is also a great way to gain followers and supporters.
10. Personalized invitations
It may be good to check up on each of your contacts by sending them a personalized message. Craft an email or mobile message that not only asks how they’re doing but also to promote your restaurant’s products and services. This enables you to open up new revenue streams by inviting them to come over, or even just for pickups or deliveries. Be sure you’re ready to keep the conversations going. Any reply or engagement from your contacts merits pertinent replies from you. Adopt appropriate step-by-step messaging based on their journey. Also, invite them to leave feedback on your website or social media channels.
To read a previous blog about managing your stakeholders during a lockdown, go here.
At the end of the day, resorting to several innovative measures to keep your business alive is also changing the way how the whole hospitality industry works and operates. This abrupt push into making creative ideas to ensure survival in an altered state and this can work to future-proof your business. Whether you heed the call of moving forward and away from the traditional practices of running your restaurant, or adapting to new trends, one thing is for certain: there are plenty of takeaways from our current predicament that you can use for your survival. Cultivating any of these new revenue streams is now a necessity.