The hospitality industry has been turned upside down by COVID-19, with the restaurant industry among the hardest hit sectors. While many restaurant owners have had to close their doors, others are thriving. Despite the lockdowns, plenty of eateries are finding creative ways to reopen and stay open. So how can you make your restaurant stand out amid the pandemic and all of its challenges?
Step up your online presence
Even though we aren't necessarily in quarantine anymore, people are still staying home as much as possible these days. With less foot traffic, you need to find another way to bring in diners — whether it's for takeout, delivery, or (socially distanced) dine-in.
Building up your online reputation through social media outreach and SEO practices will drastically increase your likelihood of success. If you aren't an internet wiz or don't have a Facebook account, there's no need to worry. You can hire an SEO company, like Central Florida Media Solutions, that specializes in web design, digital marketing, SEO, and social media management. They offer a bunch of solutions to bolster your online presence and drive your target audience to your website.
A few quick tips:
The importance of reviews has never been more significant — ask your guests to leave a positive review if they enjoyed their meal.
You're more likely to draw in the Gen Z and millennial customers through regular social media posts, especially on your Instagram account (it's the foodie's favorite platform).
You should use your online platforms to communicate clearly with your customers about what crucial steps you're taking to follow CDC guidelines for their safety as well as your staff members.
Get innovative and try something New
Out of chaos comes opportunity, or so they say. Many restaurant owners are using their downtime to innovate — whether it's a new menu concept, new services, or new experiences. Some examples of recent creative restaurant adaptations include:
Meal kits: Combine menu items into a family meal package to boost sales while making yourself more delivery-friendly. You could offer meal kits prepared or DIY. Customers will love the experience of making their favorite restaurant dishes right at home. Up-sell the packages to include merchandise (aprons, mugs, etc.) to further boost your sales.
Reward programs: If you're doing a lot of to-go business, a reward program is an excellent idea. It'll encourage your guests to come back over and over so that they can rack up points and score free items.
New menu items: Let your head chef run wild and come up with a completely new menu geared for takeout and delivery, or just add a few new dishes to promote. Either way, new and existing customers are sure to take notice.
New experiences: With less face-to-face interaction, you've got to get creative with hospitality. Restaurant workers at Denver's Birdcall slip handwritten, personalized messages into each takeout order. They also teamed up with local musicians to create the “Birdcall Lockdown Music Series,” where bands and DJs can play in the parking lot while guests wait for their orders. Of course, the artists eat for free!
Take over the takeout business
According to the CDC's Best Practices for restaurants, limiting service to takeout and delivery is still the safest option for guests and staff. It might seem intimidating to juggle a ton of online ordering platforms, but you have technology options to help. In fact, you can essentially hire a virtual online ordering manager at cuboh.com. With a super convenient dashboard, Cuboh centralizes your online orders by combining all of your delivery apps onto one tablet. Cuboh's state-of-the-art POS integration automatically punches in orders and prints them at your expo station, making virtual operations that much easier. Your Cuboh hub can connect to all of your delivery services, including Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, ChowNow, and more. It's already a stressful time to be a business owner — let Cuboh simplify things for you.
The most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your restaurant is to strictly follow safety guidelines put forth by the CDC as well as federal and local governments. Encourage guests to wear masks and social distance, and delay reopening the dining room for now. Focus on digital marketing and digital ordering instead. You'll be surprised by the amount of business you can drum up!