The coronavirus pandemic has changed how countless businesses operate. Restaurants, in particular, have been closed down, opened at limited capacity, and are just starting to resume normal operations. Many of these foodservice companies have changed how they reach customers, either offering delivery and pickup options, or creating new food items to reach different audiences. Your restaurant can stay alive during the coronavirus pandemic — and it can thrive. Follow these five tips for managing a successful restaurant amid COVID-19.
1. Identify necessary equipment updates.
If you have changed your operations because of COVID-19, you may reach a point where you decide if these adjustments were temporary or are permanent. Many businesses that offer delivery services or new takeaway options have decided to keep these features to support their customers. If you decide to keep a new program, determine what equipment you need to streamline the process for your team.
For example, an Italian restaurant might decide to sell “bake at home” pizzas or pasta dishes. This means customers will visit the store briefly to pick up what they need and then leave. The restaurant could invest in a true refrigerator by the door for pickup orders to expedite the process.
2. Clarify restaurant policies.
In 2020, safety became a marketing tool. Businesses talked about their sanitization practices and boasted about new features to protect both customers and employees. You can take these steps as well to promote your restaurant by being proactive.
Make announcements on social media and on your website describing the steps you are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you are restricting capacity or adding more outdoor seating, brag about it. Highlight your commitment to mask-wearing in order to keep everyone safe.
3. Set goals for growth.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies are just trying to survive. However, now is the time to work back to your normal operating levels. Evaluate your current situation and set OKRs (objectives and key results) for your income levels each week or month. You can even look into OKR software that can track these goals for you.
If you can keep growing a little bit each week by reaching new customers and serving more people, you can meet pre-pandemic operating levels and even grow past where you were previously performing.
4. Evaluate which menu items perform the best.
During the pandemic, you may need to limit what you offer. It may be hard to get certain ingredients from vendors and your kitchen staff will need to cook items faster for takeout and delivery orders.
Evaluate your menu and see if it needs to be pared down. Ask yourself, which items are rarely ordered? Which items are exceedingly complex or require a lot of ingredients? If you need to temporarily remove a few items, you can always bring them back after the pandemic — and dedicate a large marketing push to their return.
5. Form partnerships with the community.
While you are making adjustments to your menu, consider forming partnerships with other businesses and vendors in your area to promote their brands. This could include adding cookies from a local bakery to your dessert menu or selling bags of coffee from a local grinder. In turn, these vendors will also promote your restaurant as a top place to get their items. These partnerships have multiple benefits such as allowing you to grow your audience reach while becoming a strong community partner. These intangible benefits can help your business for months to come.
COVID-19 has devastated the restaurant business, but some places have thrived and grown during this time. These tips can guide you in bringning back your customers and continue serving your community.
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