The restaurant industry has been so hard hit during COVID-19. Restaurants started seeing slowing business even before shutdowns were mandated by states around the country.
Now, even as most states have re-opened almost entirely, a lot of restaurants are still closed either because of government guidelines or their personal choice.
Many patrons are somewhat hesitant to eat indoors, and there are capacity limitations in major cities like New York.
If you’re trying to reopen your restaurant, but you aren’t really sure where to begin, the following are tips and things to know.
Work with a Consultant
A restaurant consultant can help you any time, but especially if you’re facing challenges. A restaurant consultant has an idea of the difficulties the industry can bring, and they can work with you to determine if you might need to pivot in creative areas like your concept or your menu.
A consultant might be able to work with your staff to help them learn how to connect with patrons even while wearing a mask and social distancing.
They could also work with you on creating upsells that could help you make up from some of the lost revenue stemming from capacity limits.
There are just so many ways a restaurant consultant might be able to help you redirect your business if that’s what is needed or just put in place revenue-generating tweaks.
Keep Maximizing Takeout and Delivery
No matter where your state or location is in terms of reopening and restaurant restrictions, it might be advisable to keep maximizing your takeout and delivery services.
This is for a few reasons.
First, just because you can open your restaurant, not everyone is going to feel comfortable visiting.
Plus, offering extensive takeout and delivery options is going to help you attract new customers that you might not have access to otherwise.
What a lot of restaurants are doing and have been doing is shifting to family-style meals and meal packs rather than individual meals.
A note here too—if it’s feasible for you at all, you could consider offering your own delivery service. Then you can offer it as a free service to customers rather than paying an app-based service like GrubHub on both ends of the transaction.
The post-coronavirus economy may see long-lasting changes, and home-based businesses have seen soaring demand in 2020. That includes takeout and delivery businesses and services.
Take a Look at Your Menu
While your business might be slow right now, get creative and innovative as far as your menu.
It can be the perfect time to take a hard look at your existing menu and maybe pare it down if that’s what the situation calls for.
You can use the data from your POS system to start figuring out more about what your costs are and how you can improve your margins.
If you have items that don’t sell a lot and they’re expensive, cut them out. It can be tough for restaurant owners and chefs to do that because they may have an emotional attachment to an item. Now, however, with all of us rethinking how we do things, it may be the optimal time to do just that.
Rethink Hiring and Onboarding
Unemployment rates, particularly in some bigger cities, are stubbornly high right now. Many people may be looking for work, which could be good news for some employers. You may have access to top talent.
If you hire well now and make sure you take your time to get the best people and then train them properly, you may be more profitable in the future as a result.
If you have the time, go over your training materials and manuals. If you can, transition some of your training to a video format.
Go Behind the Scenes with Your Marketing
Finally, you will undoubtedly have to shift your marketing now. One thing to consider adding is more of a behind-the-scenes look at your business, your employees, and what makes you great.
You need people to connect with you right now, personally. There’s a lot of stress for everyone, and you want to cut through some of that with elements of positivity.
You might do a weekly series on social media, for example.
Tell your followers more about how you got started, what you love about the restaurant business, and what your inspiration is. You should also talk openly and honestly about how you’ve dealt with the challenges of coronavirus.
You can do profiles on your employees too. Get creative and humanize your business at a time when that’s appreciated.