For many restaurateurs, thinking about what comes after COVID-19 for the restaurant industry isn’t top of their priority lists right about now.
As one of the industries hit hardest by global lockdown measures, the restaurant industry is really struggling at the moment. But, even though it might not seem like it now, there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. By adapting to current circumstances, as well as planning for the future of your business, you can give yourself the best chance of survival when this pandemic eventually subsides and TikTok lockdown dances are a distant memory.
Katch some of our top tips to help you prepare your business for what comes next, below:
Satisfy Those Locked Down Appetites
With everyone stuck at home, delivery reigns supreme, which means an already over-saturated market has gotten even more crowded. As a result, restaurants must do everything they can to make sure customers are getting great food delivered to their doorsteps, at competitive prices. However, if you want to stand out, you need to think outside the box and give customers more! Don’t take things too seriously: Add fun and light-hearted touches to your delivery packaging and introduce that personal touch. Moreover, adapt to the new demands of the market by expanding your menu. Add family meals, sharing deals, kid-friendly treats, and more to your delivery selection, because isolating together means a whole lot of eating together.
Whether you’re hiring your own drivers or going through a popular third-party delivery app, don’t sacrifice quality for efficiency. Both should go hand in hand. Firstly, your kitchen team should continue to stick to the highest standards of food preparation, while continuously delivering delicious dishes. Standards shouldn’t slip just because the food is going for delivery, instead of straight to a guest in the restaurant. Encourage and empower your team to strive for quality, consistency and efficiency when preparing each and every dish. It’s also vital that you ensure your delivery drivers know they are valued members of your team. Then, it’s all about ensuring all dishes are delivered swiftly, safely and to the satisfaction of customers.
Shout it From the Rooftops
Of course, upgrading your delivery service is pointless if nobody knows about it. So, make sure the effort you’re putting into your F&B is aligned with a next-level communications approach. With more people than ever online, your business needs to be making the right kind of noise. Roll out fun, engaging, creative content, stay top of mind with existing customers, and execute an effective digital marketing strategy to grow your target audience.
Whether you’re posting free recipe videos, guiding your followers through your restaurant’s stringent hygiene and sanitisation practices, or simply reposting funny user-generated content on Instagram stories – letting people know what you’re up to will keep your business relevant and engaged with consumers. Even though this may seem like the least of your worries right now, maintaining a proactive communications approach is key. By raising your game now, through positive, mindful and impactful online marketing. Then, your customers will remember you for all the right reasons once the chaos of this pandemic abates.
Everyone Loves a Good Neighbour
Members of the F&B industry and customers alike are looking for positivity to get them through these challenging times. Do everything you can to show that your restaurant is an integral part of both the local industry and community! In addition to helping your own team, support your fellow restaurateurs and let them know you’re all in this together. It’s also important to show people you care about much more than the business side of things, which is why you should reach out to vulnerable members of the community. While everyone is going through a difficult time right now, the elderly and at-risk are finding it really tough. They deserve any help they can get! Even something simple, like offering discounted meals or free delivery to your neighbourhood’s vulnerable people, could make all the difference.
When all of this is over and done with, every good deed you do now will be remembered by those who needed it most, and your restaurant will stand out as something far more than a business; it will be an integral part of the community – one that people respect and show loyalty to, because, during desperate times, you were at your best. Deliveroo’s pledge to deliver 500,000 free meals to NHS frontline workers in Britain is a great example of this approach.
No matter how bleak things seem right now, this will all eventually pass. And, when it does, there’s a whole lot to look forward to waiting on the other side. As the lockdown cabin fever kicks in, you can be sure there are plenty of post-pandemic bucket lists being made. You can also bet that food-related choices are at the top of a lot of those lists. When this blows over, people will be eager to get out, about and back to their favourite bars and restaurants. Make your restaurant a fixture on those bucket lists – a place that diners can’t wait to visit after the lockdown.
Many people are finding being stuck in isolation, away from family and friends, very difficult. Thoughts of finally meeting up with the gang, socialising and going for dinner somewhere that isn’t inside the four walls of their homes are more than likely keeping a lot of those people going during these tough times. Use your online communications and digital marketing to build anticipation by talking to your audience in fun, positive and engaging ways. This will subsequently establish your restaurant as somewhere people want to be post-COVID-19. Furthermore, according to Forbes Middle East, social media usage has soared by almost 50% so far during the pandemic. Take advantage of that! You can increase engagement on your social media channels with giveaways of/competitions for free dining credits, by establishing a loyalty programme, or selling gift cards at discounted prices. By doing so, you’ll give your customers an excuse to start making post-pandemic plans, and, consequently, your restaurant will be top of mind when they’re deciding where they want to go.
No matter what comes after COVID-19 for the restaurant industry, you want to make sure your business is equipped with a next-level communications strategy. Get in touch with our teams in Dubai or London, and we’ll handle the rest!