The harsh truth about running a restaurant amid a pandemic
2020 began with a vast growth in the restaurant industry. A rapid jump in comparison to previous years or even decades. It didn’t take to long before existing, new or ready to launch restaurants were forced to run their business on a different model than intended. With the hit of the pandemic, around mid march, restaurants can no longer run business as usual. The restaurant market all the sudden become a ghost town with a mysterious future. Dine floors were locked up, patios shut down, and some closed down all together unable to make ends meet.
A handful of major chain restaurants kept afloat following the new laws set out for contactless deliveries or curb-side pickup. Even then overhead costs outweighs revenue generated. Some gave up and shut down till unknown further dates while others went bankrupt and some still trying to make ends meet.
Over a period of 5-6 months, a restaurant can not afford to “just” make ends meet. Even with the easing of laws and restrictions, being able to open your restaurant once again is a lot more costly then before. Following laws to ensure the safety of your customers and employees requires you to dig into a savings account or lose the money in your register. This is the case right now and the situation will not get any better for months and even maybe years to come. Your are probably waiting for a plan, a solution any kind of help. There is hope and there is help if you truly are passionate and dedicated to your restaurant.
The restaurant industry has never seen a crisis on this scale before
The crisis has hit and is here to last for a while. Not acting on it or waiting for it to just vanish on it’s own is practically impossible and a daydream that you will wake up from to realize you lost the battle and shut down your business. Taking ownership of the problem can and will help you during this time and will make your business even stronger coming out on the other side of this pandemic.
Scale “forward” not backward on your restaurant marketing campaigns
Regardless of the easement of laws and restrictions, restaurants can not longer rely on foot traffic. The new reality now is to go digital using the latest technology. This once used to be a differentiator between you and your next door competitor BUT now it is the price of entry back into the restaurant market.
How to digitally bring your restaurant back up on its feet
"Content is king”
We have heard this saying over and over, but right now is the time to believe in this and take it with all seriousness. Creating unique content on a daily basis is the best and one of the only ways to boost your brand and retain your customers full undivided attention. especially, as your restaurant adjusts its model for the post COVID era.
People in normal days love to see behind the scene of a restaurant they plan on visiting. So how about during this time, its even more crucial to show more of behind the scene, showing how your business is taking safety measures, protocols and caution to ease the customers and provide them with a sense of safety. Sharing how your restaurant is successfully coping through tough times only makes customers appreciate you that much more with the extra measures you are taking.
“Content is ONLY king when done right”
Posting random pictures with no captions, non relevant hashtags, clustered content is a downfall and only shows the general public how your restaurant is mismanaging running your business. Being able to capture attention requires branded, relevant, cohesive content graphically designed or edited to show your restaurant in it’s best form online. Don’t waste time testing different social media channels or experimenting with different content, work with an agency that has the experience and knowledge and can save you time. This is not the best time to experiment yourself and watch as your business falls behind.
“Revisit your website and optimize your online presence”
Drive by, walk-ins, your restaurant banner, street signs, all these used work in the past to draw traffic to your restaurant. This is no longer the case. Now your business is being googled and if its found online you gain the revenue, if you are not you lose it. As restrictions are lifted and consumers start to look up places to dine in, where will you be in their search?
Take the time and invest in an optimized, well built restaurant website. Make it easy for guests to find you.
- Is your website up to date
- Is your menu optimized for desktop and mobile viewing
- Do you offer an online ordering system
- Do you offer online reservations for easy booking
- Are you saving emails and building mailing lists
- Are your social media channels integrated with your website
- Is your website consistent with your brand
- Is your website optimized with a strong search (SEO)
“Marketing back up the ladder”
This is the key to success. Once this stops know that your business will stop with it. Market your return into the industry strong. Your restaurant needs to market a communication plan with consumers. A constant, consistent communication strategy with consumers online. Transitioning back into the normal may take a long time or may never be seen again.
Fuel your brand
Run multi-channel digital AD campaigns, manage a customer emailing list, run continuous automated email marketing campaigns featuring your restaurants best practices, new menus, new offers or providing insightful new news or updates.
Do not DIY “Do it yourself”
This is not the time to get artsy and crafty and DIY marketing. Don’t get left behind trying to tap into the advertising and marketing industry when your restaurant industry is at jeopardy now. Focus on business and come out strong.