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.