The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many economic concerns, especially for local and small businesses. Restaurants are being forced to close their dine-in business to maintain social distancing and adhere with ordinances that restrict public gatherings. In order to survive and thrive during these uncertain times, restaurants must be proactive. Keep reading for three ways restaurants can adapt to meet the needs of their customers during the coronavirus crisis.
1. Communicate Clearly and Frequently
Do your customers know you are still open for business? As people around the world practice social distancing, it is easy to assume that most businesses are closed for the time being. If your restaurant is operating, you must communicate that directly to your customers. The most successful restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic are those who take proactive measures and maintain constant communication through email and social media.
Take Chick-fil-a for example. The national chain has remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, and each individual location has shared updates on their hours of operation via email or social media. Chances are, if you drive past a Chick-fil-a, you will still find a line wrapped around the building.
It is also important for restaurants to communicate the steps being taken to keep customers safe during this time. From food safety practices to social distancing and improved cleaning routines, this information can help your customers feel secure when buying from you. Be sure to communicate these updates to your staff as well, so your employees feel safe and protected during these uncertain times.
2. Create an Order-ahead Delivery Process Through a Virtual Terminal or Contactless Payments on Delivery
If you are going to continue to serve customers, you will have to adapt your business to meet the needs of the pandemic. Regularly review the CDC guidelines for coronavirus to ensure you are doing all you can to protect your customers and employees, including maintaining social distancing. For many states, a shelter-in-place order has been issued, which limits the number of people who can gather at once as well as the operation of dine-in restaurant businesses. You will have to move your business from dine-in to order ahead, delivery, and curbside pickup.
In order to accommodate call-ahead orders or delivery orders, you need to make sure your website can handle an increase in traffic and that you have delivery drivers on staff. If you have relied solely on online ordering in the past, it may be time to institute other methods for ordering, such as phone calls. Having multiple ordering and pickup options can help you serve a wider range of customers. Some businesses have been able to return their business to pre-crisis levels by adapting the way they do business, such as adopting contactless delivery.
Contactless pay is essential for restaurants to survive during the coronavirus pandemic. Paper money changes hands many times and germs can easily adhere to credit cards. Providing a method of contactless pay is both convenient for your customers and an ethical business practice to protect your employees.
Businesses in North America are also taking this time to learn from other cultures where delivery services are more common. Coffee delivery services are very popular in Japan, and niche restaurants can learn a thing or two when it comes to these businesses. Even if you offer specialty drinks or frozen goods, delivery is still a possibility. In fact, many ice cream shops in New York City are launching delivery services to stay afloat.
3. Launch Local Marketing Through Geo-targeted Online Advertising
Finally, local marketing campaigns will be crucial for your success. Instagram and Facebook provide tools for geo-targeted ads through their social media platforms, so you can spend your advertising dollars on consumers in your area. Local businesses do not have to try to compete with national giants, and you can even narrow down your audience by demographics or interests to better tailor your ads.
Social media marketing can help get the word out about your restaurant, including your menu and hours of operation. This is an especially great option for local businesses that do not have a robust customer email list that they can use to disseminate information. Through Instagram and Facebook ads, you can directly target customers within a specific radius or zip code to get the right eyes on your business, whether they follow your account or not.