States across the country are banning inside dining at restaurants. This is all part of the strategy of “social distancing,” or the limiting of social gatherings. The idea is to slow or stop the spread of the virus by cutting down on large gatherings where people could potentially infect new communities.
If you’re like most business owners, your restaurant is your livelihood and you are panicked in this time of uncertainty. Some people are hopeful, waiting out the storm for warmer weather that might halt the spread; others are hopeful that health officials will get a hold on the virus soon.
But how does that help your business now when you are forced to shut doors to your customers? The restaurant industry thrives on rooms full of people laughing, eating, drinking, and enjoying the company they are in. As more and more restaurants are forced to close their dining rooms, they fear the loss of business and profits.
So, what can you do when you fear that social distancing and mandated dining room shutdowns will ruin your business? We are here to give you a few ideas on how to keep the money flowing in amidst this insanity.
CONTINUE TO DRIVE SALES
Don’t become a victim of this virus, stay calm and positive and get creative. Now more than ever is the time for you to engage your community and loyal customers as you find a new way to drive business.
We understand that you may be a fine dining restaurant and you don’t normally do delivery or take out, but why not? You can offer different versions of your food that can withstand delivery and takeout. Everyone still needs to eat. Try making as minimal human contact as you can by offering a curbside pick-up.
Take Custom Orders
If you haven’t done this before, this is a great time to start. Your customers still need to eat, and you still need to keep your business going. With grocery shelves empty, your customers might find it difficult to cook balanced meals for their family. Offer customers the opportunity to place custom orders. Not only will this help you out, but it will keep your food suppliers happy too!
Offer Larger, Family Style Portions
Start by offering large family style portions of your best-selling dishes to those customers who want to buy in bulk and freeze.
Start appealing to your local community of loyal customers and let them know you need help! Offer your customers the chance to purchase a gift card at a reduced rate of 10%, 15% or even 25% off. Who doesn’t love a good deal? It will help them realize normal life is around the corner all while saving money on their next meal with you.
Pop Up Drive Throughs
How about getting even more creative and setting up a pop-up drive through? This enables your customers to stay safely inside their vehicles and drive right up to collect their favorite meals.
Aside from the obvious fact that you will be reducing your staff and business hours, we wanted to put together a couple other cool tips to help minimize your business costs.
Use your POS to Focus your Menu on the Most Popular and Profitable Items
Last week we discussed the importance of POS reporting for your business. All you need to do is pull a recent purchase history from your POS system. Look for three things: which item is making you the most profit, which item is the best-selling, and which items are the worst selling? Then you can temporarily adjust your menu to make sure you are selling what sells the most and what makes you the most money.
Use What You Have
This doesn’t just mean use what’s in the fridge-that’s pretty obvious. Get thrifty and offer any of your FOH staff that have cars the option of being a delivery driver.
Stay Aware of what the Government is Doing to Help your Business
Hopefully as the pandemic spreads the government will do the right thing and step in to help your business survive. There is nothing set in stone as of yet, but you need to be on top of what all your options are if you want to survive. For example, in New York City, city government has made this financial assistance available. How about you start by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce to find out more about what resources are available to businesses in your area.
Resources to help you:
- Look here for your local Chamber of Commerce
- Hospitality Cares, is a non-profit organization for hospitality operators
- The NRA’s COVID-19 resource page
- The US CDC’s resource page for Businesses and Employers
COVID-19 is a worldwide crisis, and it is uncertain how long it will last and how much wreckage it will leave behind. What we know now is that “social distancing” is the new norm, and a lot of restaurants worldwide are being restricted on what their business can do. We hope this article gives you a bit of hope and some fresh ideas on how to adapt your business to the times ahead instead having to put up a “Sorry We’re Closed” sign.
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See you next week!
Your devoted hostess,