As we continue to deal with COVID-19 and place our focus on recovery efforts, operators now more than ever need ways to stay relevant, informed and in business.
Attention Restaurant Owners: Implement These 6 Best Practices To Grow Your Business
1. Communication Is Key
- Staff: Get Personal
In a time of crisis, every member of your staff is extremely vulnerable. If you aren’t keeping them informed and communicating regularly, they will begin to build their own narrative, which often leads to unnecessary worry and lack of confidence in your operation. Open communication, on the other hand, builds trust, retains employees and allows your staff to feel connected. An engaged staff can be your best brand ambassadors!
- Customers: Stay Social
Your social media accounts are the digital front door to your business during crisis. If you aren’t staying in front of customers, you will lose engagement…and likely lose business, too.
Here are some ideas to help you promote and drive engagement on social platforms:
- Create short, engaging videos discussing what you’re doing (i.e. deep cleaning and updating inside your restaurant, improvements you've made to your to-go and delivery, meal kits, family-style meals, videos of your chefs preparing food, etc.).
- Highlight your daily special or drink specials.
- Remind customers of hours, the phone number to call in or an app that can be used to order to-go and delivery.
- Promote community involvement (sponsorships, special events you're involved with, etc.)
- Boost posts when you see high engagement. It’s a low-investment option with great potential to expand your audience.
- Encourage your followers to share your posts. There’s often no better advertising than friends sharing with friends.
2. Streamline Efficiencies with a Limited Menu
Creating a narrowed or limited menu can help streamline your business in a variety of ways:
- A narrowed menu saves time, money and labor and also makes menu items easier to execute with limited staff.
- Create the menu based on staff availability: what products do you have on hand and what products are available from your distributor?
- Review menu items and identify those with low profit margins that do not perform well. Is there an opportunity to remove these items?
- Can you consolidate some items in your inventory? For example, if you are using two types of chicken for items on your menu, could you just order one and use the same for both?
- Your limited menu may need to change a couple times as the industry continues to change during crisis and recovery.
3. Become More To-Go Friendly
- Update your website to emphasize your current take-out, curbside and delivery options.
- Put customers at ease by supplying a brief food safety and handling statement.
- Make sure your to-go bags are sturdy, flat bottomed, capable of holding items without spilling and tamper proof if you are offering delivery.
- Don’t forget the importance of presentation! Make sure you do everything you can when you package your food – from using the right containers to putting the food in the containers the best way possible – so that when everything arrives at its destination, it looks as good as if the customer got it to eat inside your restaurant.
4. Identify Unique Ways to Capture Business
- Work with the Chamber of Commerce in your town to help support local restaurants by promoting the benefits of placing takeout and delivery orders.
- Create food and brew combo specials, such as $50 for 4 burgers, 4 fries and a 6-pack of brew.
- Specials such as take and bake meals, kids’ meals and cocktail kits are really popular with the current emphasis on takeout and delivery. Some ideas include kits to decorate your own doughnuts, build your own pizzas and make your own margaritas.
- Provide customers ordering takeout or delivery with a discount to dine-in later.
- Create gift card deals, such as buy a $50 gift card, get a $5 gift card free.
- Surprise guests with a freebie: a free dessert or something fun like a small sanitizer with orders.
5. Build Consumer Confidence
- Clean more often, and clean even when customers are coming and going. When customers see cleaning taking place around them, it makes them feel more confident in their decision to order from you.
- Make sure to deep clean some of the places where people believe germs live most, such as door handles.
- Make sure your entire staff is up-to-date on their ServSafe training.
6. Evaluate Expenses
- Take advantage of government relief options such as grants and payroll tax deferrals.
- Review your insurance policy and carrier. Is there negotiation room on your current policy, or should you be looking at other carriers, etc.?
- Is your credit card fee structure the best one for your business? In some cases, you can negotiate fees to help them make more sense for you.
- Are you keeping track of inventory? Knowing what you have on hand on your shelves and in your coolers will help you create more economical food, beverage and supply orders.
- What does your paid advertising budget look like? Are there opportunities to reduce or cut some of your advertising for a period of time to save some money?
- Monitor to-go costs. For example, instead of giving every customer cutlery and napkins/condiments, ask if they would like them first. Most meals are being taken home, which means customers likely already have what they need at home and you can save the expense of providing these things.