How should owners prepare their local restaurants for re-opening after Covid19 lockdown? With the good news that many parts of Canada and the USA have passed the peak of COVID-19 infections, restaurant owners are increasingly thinking about the future. They’re looking for ways to keep their businesses profitable, and they’re trying to serve their loyal customers to the best of their ability while they wait to fully reopen.
Despite the unexpected obstacles that food service businesses are facing right now, savvy restaurant owners are finding ways to adapt and thrive during this crisis. They know they can emerge from the pandemic with a more agile, streamlined business model if they rise to the challenges at hand and employ the right strategies. In the guide below, we’ll cover some of the best ways you can prepare your restaurant for reopening after Covid-19:
4 Essential Post-Coronavirus Strategies for Restaurants Owners
Continue to expand your online presence.
As you wait to reopen, the single best thing you can do for your restaurant is to create a strong online presence, complete with an interactive menu. Having a fully-functional online portal will allow your customers to find you easily and order their favorite meals, so they don’t experience any service interruptions. Not only will this protect your business by ensuring steady profits, it will keep you connected with your existing customers throughout this difficult time. After the pandemic has ended, your name will still be fresh in their minds, ensuring a quick return to “business as usual.”
Your online business model should consist of at least three parts: First and foremost, you’ll need a website that showcases your culinary expertise. It should include professional photographs of the food you serve and provide all of the information your customers need to contact you and arrange for a pick-up or delivery order.
To maintain the consistent and convenient service your customers are used to, your website should be paired with an interactive menu that allows customers to order food online, without using a phone. This system makes the ordering process much quicker, and reduces the likelihood of errors. (Some ordering apps, like the new ConnexMenu app, even allow restaurant owners to keep track of their delivery drivers, for a truly seamless ordering experience.) Right now, ease of use is key to customer retention: Most people feel stressed and overwhelmed, so the simpler your ordering process is, the more it’s going to appeal to consumers.
Finally, don’t forget to retool your digital marketing strategy to reflect the needs of your customers. Reach out to existing customers with gestures of solidarity and support (e.g., offer digital gift cards or specials), and keep trying to actively grow your customer base. Write social media posts, keep uploading photos on Instagram, and update your blog regularly. Finding new customers online will help you mitigate some of the losses you may be experiencing due to reduced foot traffic at your location.
Consider how you’ll adapt your premises to accommodate social distancing.
Though it would be wonderful if we could just flip a switch and return to normal, the reality of life after COVID-19 will probably be profoundly different than what we’re used to. Until an effective treatment or vaccine for the novel Coronavirus is found, we’ll need to keep at least some physical distancing measures in place to prevent a resurgence of infections.
To both “future proof” your business and reassure your customers, you should therefore look at ways to adopt physical distancing and hygiene measures within your restaurant. Consider placing tables further apart, installing hand sanitation stations near every doorway, and giving customers ways to get their meals without coming into direct contact with a waiter.
Look at flexible staffing options.
Currently, no one is completely sure how people will react to the end of strict physical distancing laws. Some experts believe that most Canadians will still be cautious to venture out, while others suggest that people will be eager to embrace their freedom. For restaurant owners, this uncertainty creates the potential for staffing issues: Should you make sure you have a lot of staff on hand to handle a rush of customers after lock-down ends? Or should you be operating with a skeleton staff until business picks up again?
Ultimately, the best solution probably lies somewhere in the middle: Utilizing flexible staffing options will let you gauge demand after lock-down ends, without spending more than you need to. You may want to ask if any of your staff are willing to work on an “as needed” basis, or you can operate with limited hours for the first few weeks post-lockdown. If business starts buzzing, you can gradually scale up from there (while making sure that both your staff and your customers stay safe).
Stay connected & communicate with your customers.
Weathering a crisis along with your customers is stressful, but within this difficult time, there are opportunities to build dialogue and reinforce trust in your brand. Make your customers feel valued and cared for by polling them on what safety measures they would like to see when you reopen. Ask them how they think their dining habits will change as a result of this crisis, and ask how you can serve them better while they cope with the pandemic. Implementing customer feedback is the best way to encourage brand loyalty, especially during a time when people need to feel like they have direct influence on their safety and surroundings.
Need Help Getting Your Restaurant Online? Talk to Us!
Greatly expanding your web presence and adopting new tools is challenging, even when we’re not in the midst of a global crisis. That’s why the team at AllinBrand specializes in providing Toronto restaurants and food service businesses with affordable, easy-to-implement digital marketing, web design, and interactive menu services. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business survive and thrive – no matter what the future holds.
Nail salon and spa owners are already well aware of the importance of maintaining a hygienic workplace: To keep their clients safe, they frequently sterilize their equipment and clean their premises to prevent the growth of bacteria and the spread of infection. Still, the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 will pose challenges for even the most fastidious business owners, so you’ll need to update your list of best practices before you reopen. Likewise, because salons and spas can’t operate through a delivery or pick-up business model, you should have a solid plan in place to support your business while you wait to reopen.
How Should You Prepare to Reopen Your Spa or Salon Safely?
1. Review your existing hygiene protocol with your staff.
Spa and salon staff are already required to clean and sterilize each piece of equipment they use in between clients, and particular tools must be disposed of after each use. In between clients, equipment should be stored in sterile containers, and the interior of the spa or salon should be completely cleaned at least once per day.
Realistically, salons and spas tend to be hectic workplaces, so staff may occasionally forget some of these steps, or forget what order they must be completed during the day. (For example, a staff member may not remember that equipment should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent before it’s sterilized.) It’s, therefore, a good idea to have a virtual meeting with your staff before you reopen to review your existing best practices, to make sure everyone is on the same page. You may also want to discuss making the sterilization process more visible to clients (e.g., by sterilizing equipment where your clients can see it) to reassure them after you reopen.
2. Discuss ways to update your hygiene protocol to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Depending on which province or state you work in, you may be issued guidelines for how to reopen your business while COVID-19 is still circulating safely. However, even if no legal guidelines exist, you should always do your best to alter your work environment to accommodate physical distancing. Doing so will protect your staff and show your clients that you take their well-being seriously. Consider placing stations six feet apart, or only using every other station, and ask your team to wear gloves and a mask when they interact with clients. (If your staff find working with gloves on awkward, they can practise on a mannequin at home until they get used to it.) Likewise, remember to disinfect the entirety of each station in between clients, rather than just sterilizing tools. You’ll need to clean the client’s chair, any nearby surfaces, and the debit machine your clients use to make payments.
To make this complex sterilization process more manageable, limit the number of clients allowed in your workplace at any given time. (If this requires changing your booking protocol, be sure to let your clients know via email or SMS.) Before you reopen, post your new hygiene guidelines in several prominent locations around your spa or salon, both to help your staff remember them and to show your clients that you’re proactive about their safety.
For a complete list of COVID-19 best practices for spas and salons, check out this comprehensive guide created by Barbicide. You should also contact your local regulators to ask about specific laws that may apply to your region.
What Should You Do While You Wait to Reopen?
Temporarily closing a business invariably causes financial distress, but it also provides an opportunity to catch up on tasks you may have neglected while you were busy with clients. Using the strategies below, you can help your business grow from behind closed doors:
1. Work on your digital marketing plan.
Though most salon and spa owners market themselves digitally, many don’t have the time to sit down and create a comprehensive, long-term marketing plan. If you haven’t done so already, this is a great time to plan your holiday promotions (including a relaunch event) and measure which social media channels are working well for you and which aren’t. You should also revisit your Google Business Page and make sure all of the information and photographs have shown there are up to date.
2. Consider revamping your brand.
All businesses should periodically update the “look and feel” of their brand. Lockdown creates ideal conditions for this kind of work: Your staff are freely available to help you brainstorm, and your workplace is already empty, making it easy to update displays and perform other renovations. While you wait to reopen, think about expanding the list of services you offer and work on making your location as attractive as it can be. Now more than ever, you want your clients to feel like they’re entering a restful oasis when they visit you.
In addition to making your physical workplace more appealing, you should examine your website and online branding materials for possible areas of improvement. Does your logo need modernizing? Does your website have the same features as your leading competitors, such as online booking, Google map integration, online product ordering, and a gallery of “before and after” photos? If your website doesn’t have these modern features, you can work remotely with a web design firm to bring it up to speed.
3. Keep in touch with your existing clients while you’re closed.
Even if you can’t take bookings right now, there’s a lot you can do online to maintain the connection you have with your loyal customers.
As always, the best way to keep people engaged is to offer them content that has real value:
Update your social media accounts and blog with at-home styling tutorials
Create useful product reviews, host live online Q & A sessions
Provide online consultations & tutorials.
Offer delivery of nail removal & instruction kits to your existing clients for self removal
When you aren’t actively posting, keep the discussion going on social media by encouraging your clients to share their at-home beauty routines.
Finally, don’t forget to offer your customers an incentive to return when you reopen, e.g., by sending out gift vouchers or having a reopening special.
Need Help Revamping Your Website or Marketing Strategy? Talk to Us!
Updating your website, marketing strategy, and branding materials require more than just time; you also need the right tools and expertise to get the job done. If you’re looking for an affordable all-in-one digital marketing, graphic design, and web design solution, look no further than AllinBrand. Our affordable, comprehensive services will help your Toronto spa or salon reach a larger, more engaged audience – to get started, contact us via email or by phone at +1 416 886 8855.
Why LOCAL SEO (search engine optimization) matters?
According from one Google’s survey in Feb 2019, “82% of Canadian shoppers who visited a store in the last week said they used online search prior to going in-store”. Thus, even if your customers end up making the purchase in-store, your business’ online presence on search engines will ensure you’re prominently there (and being helpful) when they research their purchase.
Download the Local SEO Guide for Small Businesses in Canada
It’s time to bring your website to where your potential customers are searching! And, there is no sustainable way to go about this challenge other than doing SEO. Download our curated insights on Loal SEO Guide specifically dedicated for Canadian local businesses and start growing your website traffic and improve your business’ online presence.
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Want to know how well have you “𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗲𝗱” your restaurant marketing efforts so far? Contact AllinBrand team for a free audit of your online presence and how to maximize them to gain more customers and raise your brand to the next level of success!