Marketing

HOW YOUR RESTAURANT SHOULD RESPOND TO COVID

This short guide explains the steps you should take as a Restaurant during the crisis

March 30, 2030 - 12 min read

Adapt to thrive

As the world faces a new order restaurateurs and takeaway owners are finding themselves in a new reality. A reality that your customers, right now, cannot walk into your premises. However the reality is, this situation does not need to be businesses ending, in fact it can be the start of a whole new journey.

As a restaurateur, safety is your number one priority. The safety to both your staff and customers is above all else. However just because customers can’t come and see you does not mean you can’t operate and deliver your food, to your customers. You can. The answer is about going online. It’s time to start doing delivery.

This article will outline the strategic choices and proven tips that will allow you the restaurateur or takeaway owner to adapt and create the new routes to market so you don’t just survive, but thrive in the impact of Covid. After all, we all still need feeding. We’ll cover precautions your restaurant needs to take to take delivery orders, how you can improve your operational efficiency, how to get going with online delivery and the promotional initiatives you can take to market your new online service. As a business during these times it’s important you find a way to continue. Online Delivery is your answer to continuation and it’s important. Supermarkets can’t deal with the capacity increase they have taken on from the huge volume of Restaurants that now can’t serve their customers. Re-opening with a delivery service, means not only do you keep your business going, you are doing your bit to help release the pressure from the supermarkets.

It’s also to consider your customers, those once loyal to you may easily switch to a competitor who sets up and offers a delivery service before you. If that happens you run the risk of losing some customers forever, event when the crisis is over. We don’t know how long the situation will last, whilst warmer may slow the virus’ spread it is still uncertain. The only thing we know, people, your customers, need feeding, we just can’t get to you, so you need to get the food to us.

So how do you do that? So the first step is to make it safe. Luckily the steps to be safe and deliver safely are easily available to you.

BE CLEAN AND SAFE

The first step in combating Covid is to make your restaurant as clean and as safe possible. The UK Government has provided guidance which you can find here.

Food Hygiene

Pay attention to the sections on Food Hygiene Guidance and Food Delivery. You should be using a list of disinfectants to clean your restaurant and ensure all staff follow the latest hygienic advice, including wearing protective clothing, hand washing, cleaning and ensuring food is cooked and maintained at the required temperatures.

Pay special attention to any surface staff touch, like light switches and doors, and any system that circulates air. Provide antibacterial gloves for your team. Finally, many restaurants have scheduled multiple daily professional cleanings. Take every initiative you can to keep your restaurant disinfected.

But don’t just clean to make your restaurant safe. Send a message to your customers that your restaurant is a haven from what’s outside. Right now your customers need to hear you are taking extra precautions.

Prepare Staff

Brief staff on all available Hygiene measures and make it absolutely clear that if they feel ill, they stay home.

— Equip staff with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks

— Be prepared to send staff home if they have symptoms

In general, make sure your team has a plan in place for dealing with a sick customer. Protecting your employees and making the other customers feel safe remains your number one priority.

Avoid Taking Cash

If your restaurant takes cash, switch to touchless payment mechanisms. Luckily Online Delivery can mean neither you nor your staff ever need to touch a credit card, or credit card machine again.

For Delivery, Use Your Own Drivers

Ok we’re all struggling to get testing kits right now, but trust is still important. We recommend using your own delivery drivers right now. Delivery drivers from Food Portals visit an unknown number of premises each day. You don’t know the standard of cleanliness in those premises. Customers will come to trust your cleanliness practices and that trust is enshrined in the person delivering the food.

Adopt Contactless Delivery

This is a very simple one to setup, have your drivers knock on the door of your customers, take 20 paces back and wait – with a smile – for the customer to answer the door and collect. Following this practice will further build trust between you and your customers that you are taking this seriously.

If you are not able to guarantee sanitary conditions, consider closing your restaurant. Now with hygiene covered, you need to move to being able to take online orders.


Your Online Delivery Options

So with cleanliness sorted it’s time to start moving onto setting up your Online Delivery. This is your only means of making revenue and keeping us fed during the crisis, but also after the crisis our habits will have changed. It’s likely, very likely in fact that many of us once we become accustomed to online delivery, will continue.

When it comes to online delivery you have 3 options. Here we will go through all of them. Note, you can use more than one option, and you will see in this article, that is something we certainly recommend.

Option 1 – Switch to telephone orders

Not technically online ordering, but it’s a form of taking orders. It’s the quickest and easiest option. But it’s not really going to get you very far. Why. Because your customers don’t remember phone numbers any more. They might save your number in their phone, but in the modern digital age, like it or not, most customers prefer not to talk to someone when placing an order. So use it, you will get some customers, but it won’t be enough to keep you open.

Option 2 – Get listed with a Food Portal

Food portals like Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats are certainly an option right now. They offer to list your business on their platforms with the promise that your customers can order from you. Whilst this is true, it belies two critical facts.

  1. High Fees After introductory fees, you will pay a large proportion of your revenue for this service, between 15% – 35%. You will STILL have to market your business, even within the Food portal platform to be listed anywhere near the top of a search, this can cost hundreds of additional pounds.
  2. Loss of customer access. You will not get access to your customer data, which means if you ever chose to leave the food portal, you will not have access to all your critical customer emails, to tell them where you have gone. Rather the Food Portal will send your customers a voucher pointing them in the direction of your nearest competitor. However we certainly don’t discount joining a Food Portal, in fact when combined with Option 3, it can work wonders on your business. Option 3 - Get your own Online Delivery App + Website

It is now possible to launch your own, fully branded, ordering App + Website. One that allows your customers to order directly from you. Companies such as Greggs, Weatherspoon’s, Starbucks and many more have recently launched their Own Brand delivery platforms, with remarkable success. And now, you as a business can do the same, without any setup cost.

The main benefits of doing this are

  1. You avoid the expensive fees and dependence of the Food Portals
  2. You get to build your own brand
  3. You get to offer a loyalty system to your customers. Food Portals to not support loyalty systems.
  4. Build your brand – its your Logo that will be on your customers phone, not the Logo of the Food Portal

In our experience option 2 combines very well with option 3. The rationale is that where a Food Portal can bring you a new customer, great, take it. Then place in your Delivery Bag a Flyer informing your customer you have your own app, that it includes loyalty and discounts and guess what, that customer will now re-order directly from you. So the aim of the game is to migrate customers from the Food Portal, to your own app, where statistically they are 4X less likely to leave you.


IDENTIFY NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR COST SAVINGS

With delivery sorted, now it’s time to make cost savings. Beyond reducing staffing and / or hours of operation, here are some other ideas you might look into to right-size your business costs.

Analyse sales data for food cost savings

If you find yourself in the position of ordering a smaller amount of food or supplies, inform your purchasing by pulling recent purchase history from your POS system. Look for two things: which menu items you can temporarily eliminate (those ordered less frequently) and which meals your most loyal guests tend to prefer. Partner with nearby restaurants We are all in this together right now. Seek out and take any opportunity you can find to partner with a local restaurant: share kitchen space, resources, staff, supplies, etc. There are no restaurant competitors right now, only partners in weathering the storm.

Stay on top of stimulus options

There is lots of support for your business right now, in case you have not seen it a link to the UK support available to you is here. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses


TIPS FOR DRIVING REVENUE DURING COVID

Don’t settle for being in survival mode right now. We, the people still need feeding. Right now is a time to shine, let the world know you are still open, your amazing food is ready, waiting, piping hot and available for delivery.

Invest More Resources Into Marketing

It doesn’t matter which delivery option you choose, or if you took our preffered combined Option 2 + 3 combo, you will need to market it. Luckily this is really easy.

  1. Post your new Online Delivery option in Facebook and Instagram
  2. If using a Food Portal, put flyers in all your delivery bags advertising your own app. Let customers know your app is cheaper / offers discounts / has loyalty
  3. Leaflet your local area with flyers, people stuck at home want to know who they can order from

Social media campaigns

Use social media to stay top-of-mind for your followers. Make sure your most loyal customers can see that you’re open, see your sanitization efforts, and know about any events you’re planning.

Email campaigns

If you own your customer data, you’ll be able to pull the email addresses of your customers and send them messages to update them on your restaurant’s status and promotions. The more personal the email, the better. It’s a great way to reach people stuck inside, and there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate the invitation to come out of their houses for a safe experience.

Support Delivery and takeaway dining

Not every restaurant is going to be able to remain open during this time. Consider following the lead of Seattle’s Canlis, which closed its fine-dining restaurant while opening up a pop-up burger drive-through in its parking lot. Create versions of your food for families to enjoy at home.

Above all else, try and stay open

It’s important to do what you can to stay open, this is where delivery comes in. But staying open is important because if you close, your customers may not return when you re-open, by then they may have already got used to buying their food from your competitor. Delivery right now, is a means for you to stay open.

Offer discounts

We might all be stuck at home, but we haven’t forgotten that we still want good value. Don’t be afraid to offer discounts to your customers on a regular basis.


Conclusion

The Covid pandemic is a global crisis, with no parallel in recent memory. There isn’t a government on the planet that can tell you when it will end, or what the overall impact will be, we can only guess.

The one area we don’t need to guess with, an area of fact and reality you can deal with is the fact that your customers still want food and the reality that a delivery service is the only way of getting it to them.

Whilst this is a crisis, it does not have to be a crisis for you or your business. As humans we adapt, that is our greatest strength, as a Restaurant, you too can adapt.

Adapt by giving your customers a Delivery Service, let them know it’s a safe one and that you follow all the precautions. Do this and your business in all likelihood won’t just survive, you will thrive.


We can help

If you would like to setup your own Branded Delivery Service we can help you get up and running in days.

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