All 50 states have declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19, leading to city-mandated closures of non-essential businesses, restrictions on restaurant procedures, and shelter in place directives. Over the past month, these mandates have caused restaurant sales to go decrease by 80%.
Many food-related businesses are experiencing rapid declines in profits and are unfortunately having to either lay off their staff or temporarily shut down their operations. So, we’ve compiled a list of resources and information that can hopefully help your restaurant maneuver around these Coronavirus related challenges and manage your business through uncertain times.
1. Pivot to Curbside Takeout and Delivery
Luckily, digital ordering has skyrocketed in popularity within the past three years, so a majority of restaurants have already adapted to this trend. However, many sit-down establishments, from local family-friendly to high-end dining, will need to pivot to takeout and delivery overnight.
If your restaurant does not offer delivery or takeout, set up online ordering and delivery services on your platform of choice. There are many digital channels like, Toast Now, that are designed for online ordering, mobile app ordering, contactless delivery, and e-gift cards. Also, if your website is hosted on WordPress, install an extension like GloriaFood, which will allow you to create your menu, choose the delivery area, and take payment through your restaurant.
Be sure to announce your change and get in touch with your customers through newsletters, Google Ads, a website pop up, blog posts, social media, a sign on your door, or even a banner outside your restaurant. You will also want to promote your new services on delivery apps that are popular in your area, like DoorDash, UberEats, Favor, GrubHub, and/or Postmates.
Here is a great example from a hospitality group in Austin, promoting their new curbside pickup option to their followers on social media.
There are many creative ways to do this, of course, so don’t feel as though it has to be designed. A simple social media post with text will more than suffice!
2. Limit Your Menu to Profitable, Portable-Friendly Options
Due to the coronavirus, you’ve probably had to let go of a majority of your staff members, so it’s important to decrease the number of menu items available, and they should represent the most profitable and delivery-friendly ones. This will help make things easier for your chefs to get food out the door, and also lower your food inventory costs.
Remember, your customers are taking your food in a container to their home, which may be as far as 30 minutes, so you’ll want to select food and ingredients that will still taste amazing when they arrive at their destination.
3. Offer and Promote Gift Cards
Let your customers and local community know that they can support your restaurant by buying a gift card. Promote purchasing gift cards through your marketing channels like social media, email newsletters, etc. Customers can use them now, save for later, or even provide as gifts to family/friends, healthcare workers, grocery store employees or anyone else providing vital services in your community.
4. Sell Brand Merchandise
If your restaurant has branded t-shirts, hats, cups, bags, or any other type of merchandise, push the sale of these products on your marketing channels as well. If you are not able to afford to ship right now, you can tell the customer to come by and pick up outside your restaurant or offer at the restaurant for pick up when you’re open again or have the customer pay for the shipping cost.
5. To-Go and Delivery Alcohol Sales
Because alcohol sales play a big part in revenue for restaurants, many states have issued a waiver to allow restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages for takeout and delivery. Before taking part in this, you’ll need to check with your state policies and well as TABC’s new guidelines.
If you sell wine, beer or have any signature drinks, make sure to offer them for takeout or delivery! Give the people what they want. Everyone’s bored at home, hobbies only get us so far, and we miss happy hours at our favorite spots. This is a great way to generate additional sales and keep customers coming back for more.
By selling larger quantities of your drinks, for example, 32 oz or 6 servings, people can choose to share with their household, save some for another night or drink it all at once.
6. Implement “Work-From-Home Specials” or “Family-Style Specials”
Offering work-from-home lunch specials is a great way to resonate with the WFH crowd. Likewise, offering Family Style Specials is a great way to satisfy the needs of the parents who are now working from home with kids. Make their lives easier by offering a convenient and cost-effective way to feed the whole family!
7. Promote Your Restaurant as a Market
Because of the decrease in food sales, many restaurants have products that will go bad before they will even be used. Try setting up a “market” outside your restaurant to sell grocery essentials like eggs, butter, rice, flour, fruits, and vegetables. You can also provide these items in bulk through delivery or curbside takeout. This way you can get rid of your extra produce and help people who are unable to find the essentials they need in the store!
8. Live Stream Cooking Classes
Go live on Instagram for cooking tutorials! This is a great way to continue to connect with your customers and to stay at top of mind. Have a chef cover the basics on how to make simple recipes like enchiladas or pizza dough and even sell DIY ingredients kits so people can follow along at home.
Here’s an example from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, a local Austin, TX favorite, that hosted a virtual cheese tasting class on Facebook Live. Customers went to the store beforehand to pick-up the cheese plate curbside and then tuned in that night for the class.
There are a lot of fun ways you can connect with your customers through live streaming so get creative and find a way that works best for your restaurant.
9. Support Your Staff
Anything you can do to support your staff during this time will be greatly appreciated and will be well received by your community. Set up an Employee Emergency Fund to support those who were laid off. This could be a Go Fund Me that you post online or implement that 20% of all orders go directly to this fund.
If customers know what you are doing for your employees, they will want to support you whether that means donating to the Go Fund Me, adding more food to their order or leaving a larger tip. There are many people out there wanting to help in any way they can.
Here is an example of something you can post on social media to show your continued support for your staff and to ask for help from your community.
10. Plan a High-Profit Menu for Your Come Back
When this coronavirus storm has ended, and it’s time for you to open your doors again, revenue might be limited. So, you’ll want to create and promote a high-profit, smaller menu to launch back with. Your customers will be so excited to eat at your restaurant again that they probably won’t mind if the food is a tad different.
Build your prep ingredients list and plan of action a month to two months out from re-opening. The key is to stay focused on the future and plan ahead to make your reopen as profitable as it can be.
These are difficult times, and things are changing every day. Keep yourself, staff, and customers as safe as you can, and we will make it through this crisis together!
These past and upcoming weeks will be a challenging time for everyone. Hopefully, these 10 tips help you keep revenue up and costs down during the Coronavirus crisis. If you are looking for additional resources or support we would love to assist you in any marketing or digital aspects, so please feel free to reach out for help! Contact us today to get started.