The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought most of the globe to a complete standstill affecting restaurants and businesses across the board. The question now is how to effectively use the time at hand, to ensure your restaurant’s long-term success and prosperity.
Most countries have enforced strict lockdowns resulting in a complete shutdown of all non-essential businesses and housebound residents. While this is a very effective method to curb the spread of the virus, it will also have a grave impact on the economy.
Others still have sufficiently low cases to allow businesses to remain open, but there are special measures in place to enforce social distancing and to protect these communities.
The measures that are being taken worldwide will have a direct impact on people’s habits and behaviours when it comes to social interaction. In the future, restaurants will need to adapt in order to accommodate their client’s new needs.
There are a number of things you can start doing today, during the shutdown, to help your business grow, to ensure you remain relevant, to improve on how you operate in the future and to allow you to continue to serve your customers and community however possible.
Cut The Excess – Specialize
Now is the time for restaurants to specialize in priority items in order to keep their doors open. While business has been sluggish since the Coronavirus outbreak, some restaurants have become quite creative in their approach to stay open.
A Steak & Wine restaurant in South Florida decided to close their restaurant and turn it into a temporary butcher shop. This creative approach has attracted new customers and allowed them to remain open as an essential service.
Another fine example of creativity in challenging times comes from an Asian restaurant in Florida. When they noticed sales dropping, and produce going off, they decided to turn their restaurant into a fresh produce shop and were able to keep their doors open.
Even though people are hesitant to “eat out” these days, they still want to support local businesses and they’re actually encouraged to shop closer to home. By adapting, restaurants can continue to serve their communities and navigate these difficult financial times.
Pivot to Take Out or Frozen Meals
Even in countries where restaurants have been allowed to remain open, many still find that their customers are reluctant to sit down for a meal. Although daily life seems to continue as per normal, people are cautious and don’t want to risk contracting the virus. Some restaurants reported a huge loss in revenue due to declining customer number and for this reason, they have in response, started to focus on Take-Out’s or Frozen Meals.
One Restaurant which has done this successfully is The Greenhouse in Mississippi. They have reduced their operating hours, but now also offer take out, curbside pick-up, and online ordering. And for those clients that don’t want to leave home, they suggest using delivery apps like Uber Eats or Waitr.
Restaurants can also consider combining their new Take-Out service with an option for Frozen Meals. This would be ideal for larger families on a budget.
Introduce New Software and Business Solutions
It’s often impossible to introduce new and improved software and business solutions while in operation. However, technology is constantly improving and there are numerous applications and tools that are more efficient, easier to use and probably cheaper than you’re currently using. Use this time to research the latest business solutions and decide which could serve you better.
POS (Point of Sale)
Point of Sale Software creates a direct link between your servers and chef. Although this isn’t “new technology” there have definitely been some nice additions over the past couple of years. Some systems link up with smartphones making its ease of use incredible. This allows for payment apps to be combined with the POS systems making stand-alone terminals unnecessary.
In the restaurant sector, Payroll can be a frustrating task. With ever-changing shifts and odd hours, it can take forever to work out wages. With the right software, the process can be very simple and it doesn’t need to be a time-consuming task.
If you’re still using old school methods to keep up with your accounting, now’s the time to make the shift. Modern Accounting software solutions are cloud-based, offer invaluable analytics and seamless integration. You’ll never look back.
Keeping track of your stock is one of the most important aspects of running a restaurant. After all, if you don’t have it you can’t sell it. Invest in reliable stocktake software to ensure that you don’t have waste and always have stock on hand.
No Spoilers is a cloud-based inventory management solution for hospitality businesses. The simplicity of the cloud-based application, the ease of use, and the unbelievable AI backing your stocktake decisions will be revolutionary. We promise.
Focus on Marketing
The restaurant industry is fast-paced and there isn’t always time to sit down and update your marketing material. Now that business is slowing down it’s critical that you spend the time to focus on your marketing strategy.
Update your website, or if you don’t have one take the time you have available to get your business online. There are apps you can use that will allow you to create your own website for free, such as WIX, Squarespace – or if you want something specifically designed for restaurants, consider Gloriafood.
This is a wonderful and free way to market your restaurant. If people can’t visit your restaurant now, keep reminding them of what’s to come. Upload mouthwatering photos to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and publish new blog posts about what you’re doing and planning for the future.
The shutdown is the ideal time to focus on staff and management training. Online MOOC’s (Massive open online courses) have made it possible for anyone to study from anywhere – and the quality of the training is excellent.
Coursera has become one of the leading platforms in terms of free online training, and they have one specific course on Food & Beverage Management that will give you an added advantage.
EdX has teamed up with some of the best universities out there to offer students across the globe access to quality free education. Their course on International Hospitality Management is especially good, focussing on integrated marketing management and new technologies and innovations.
Typsy is geared towards hospitality training. They have a wide variety of short courses anyone – from the server to the manager can benefit from. In an effort to support their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Typsy has made their pro subscription free of charge until the 30th of September 2020, and if you don’t want to continue after that you can simply cancel your subscription.
They have all the expected courses on offer like Food & Beverage Service, Hygiene and Safety Solutions, Hospitality Management and more. The most interesting course at the moment is one that focuses on how restaurants should operate responsibly in terms of the coronavirus.
Knowledge gained will never go to waste, and there has never been a better time to upskill yourself and your staff.
The next few months will be tough, but it doesn’t have to be a complete standstill. Focus on what you can get done while your restaurant is experiencing some “downtime”, and ensure that you are new and improved when things start to pick up again.