13 quick tips and ideas to operate your restaurant as efficiently as possible to navigate during COVID19.
- Use existing inventory. Create a new online menu that only includes all of your existing products, so not to order any new inventory.
- What types of food travels very well? What types of food will maintain their quality as carry-out item such as salads, pizza or sandwiches?
- Consider changing your business model tocreate new menu items that are family-style dinners/portions. Include protein/vegetable/starch etc. in a meal-kit. Also, ask customers what they would like – either informally on the phone, social media, or doing surveys. Many businesses make the mistake of producing what they thinkcustomers want when it may be more beneficial to your business to just ask.
- Include individual sanitizer wipes in the carry-out packaging.
- Add a small table outside of your door with hand sanitizer, wipes etc. for customers to use on the door handle before entering for their pick-up.
- If you are considering adding delivery, be sure to call your insurance company to add delivery service to your plan.
- Don’t assume customers know that you are open. Use social media and email to engage customers with daily specials and menu updates.Send out an email update to your subscribers, update your listings on all social media and also sites like Google My Businessand Yelp, and place signage in and around your physical location. These updates should contain basic information like: changes to your restaurant’s hours, updated service availability (likely takeout and/or delivery only), precautions you’re taking to keep customers safe.
- Navigate the crisis together by being collaborative with your neighbor restaurants. If you have bulk inventory such as extra cases of carry-out containers, offer to sell or trade a case or two to another neighborhood restaurant business. Set up a private group “supply share” FB or Slack page.
- Take videos of your kitchen and staff showing what safety and cleaning measures you are taking to assure safe and healthful working conditions at your business. Take videos with cooking tips, processes, to keep social media engagement without “selling” in each post. Become a resource to your patrons so they not only see you as a place to eat but as a business that’s informed.
- Set up online payments or pay by phone so no money/card exchanges are needed when order is picked up
- Set up an online store to offer items other than food and beverages such as branded merchandise. Create brand recognition by encouraging patrons to post photos on social media of them wearing your restaurant’s shirt, hat and other swag as another option to support your small business.
- Gift Cards – be mindful of pushing the sale of gift cards. Buying a gift card can be helpful, but only in the short term. While gift cards can provide immediate relief for fixed-cost expenses like rent and utilities, be prepared to figure out a way to make sure your business reopens with the same profit level at some undetermined point in the future because you will have to honor past gift card purchases. Gift cards could present a potential problem of cash flow issues once business resumes if there is an influx of customers wanting to redeem them. A suggestion for a restaurant that is still operating is to put an early expiration date on the cards so that customers can use them within the next few weeks or save those funds as a cushion to cover expenses for when they return to full operations. Running out of cash during a rebound would be a very unfortunate predicament. Best practices for restaurants and all businesses is to conserve cash for reopening transition.
- Keep your message positive! Reinforce the love you have for your customers by writing hand-written notes on your carry-out boxes.
Links to more information:
SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
Pennsylvania Department of Health COVID-19 Information for Businesses
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
Need guidance? We’re here to help. Contact The University of Scranton SBDC today to set up a time to discuss your business disruption concerns.
The University of Scranton SBDC