The economic impact of COVID-19 has been felt by many, however, most can agree that restaurants have been amongst the hardest hit. There is no doubt that this has forced the hospitality industry to change and adapt, and it’s up to restauranteurs to decide whether they want to embrace this change or fight against it. During this time, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to stay in business, but there are some things that you can do to make life a little easier for yourself and to ensure you come out the other side even stronger than before.
These are our tried and tested strategies to help restaurants and cafes stay afloat during the Coronavirus crisis.
Upgrade Your Take Away Offer
The spending and shopping habits of your customers have undoubtedly changed during this time. Most are conscious of how much money they are spending on food, and this can cause them to be choosey about where they shop. Make it easy for them to choose you by adding extra value to every order. Whether it’s making ready-made meals for your online shop, upgrading your meals to family size so that portions can be easily kept for meals later in the week, or throwing in a little extra for free, these small gestures will keep customers coming back to you.
Make Ordering a Breeze
Let’s face it – these days most customers hate picking up the phone to make an order. They want to be able to do it from the sofa in under five minutes so it doesn’t eat too much into their Netflix show. So, the quicker and easier it is to order from you, the more sales you will make. Instead of sending your customers to a third-party app to order your food, make it easy to order from your own website. Using an online ordering platform allows you to seamlessly integrate take away orders into your menu. Not only will you be removing an unnecessary step and cutting out the middle man, but you’ll also be saving yourself from the large commission that many apps take.
Sell Alcohol Online
The government threw a lifeline to pubs and restaurants by allowing them to sell alcohol to take away. As people aren’t coming in to dine at your restaurant, chances are you have bottles of wine, beer and spirits that are sitting lifeless behind the bar. Put this to good use by creating an online wine shop, or adding alcohol to your take away ordering system. Adding beverages to food packages is a nice way to upsell and get your customers to spend more with you while providing great value. For example, “Get a free bottle of wine when you order a set menu for four people,” is an offer that’s hard to pass up.
Get Insights From Data
If you’ve been ignoring your customer data up until now, it’s time to fix this. There are valuable insights to be found in your database and there’s much more to it than just names and phone numbers. You should be collecting other stats such as date of last order, food preferences, size of order and more. All of this information allows you to target certain customers with offers specific to them. Personalised messages go a long way and make it easy for customers to order again. For example, if a customer has ordered from you five times, but it’s been two weeks since their last order, you can send an email to entice them back.
Creating automated emails to be sent to customers who haven’t ordered from you in a while should be part of every restaurant’s marketing strategy.
With more competition than ever, it’s never been more important to reward loyal customers. People are more likely to order food from places they know than to try new ones. Use this to your advantage and make it easy for customers to re-order. For example, when a customer orders the same meal for the third time, let them know their fifth order is free. Then, when they order for the fourth time, send a reminder that their next order is free. This will help you become part of the customer’s routine and they’ll be more likely to choose to order from you over another restaurant.
Offer Discounts On Vouchers
By now, people are chomping at the bit to get back into restaurants and bars. The novelty of the new normal has worn off and extraverts and introverts alike are ready to start socialising again. Add to the excitement by creating a compelling offer for gift vouchers to be used once you have re-opened, for example, “20% off gift vouchers over $80”. This will put you at the top of their list of places to visit once restrictions are eased. Vouchers can be used by the purchaser, and you can also encourage gifting of vouchers for Mother’s Day, birthdays or other celebrations.
Make Your Website User-friendly
Many people underestimate the power of a website. Your restaurant website is either working for you, or it’s inhibiting you from being able to win customers and make sales. Make sure it flows easily and that menus are easy to find. If you haven’t already, create a pop up to let people know your current trading hours and take away/delivery options. Don’t force people to have to go looking for the information they need.
Don’t Forget Social Media
Harness the power of social media to keep your restaurant seen, even if you are temporarily closed or your offering has changed. Share quality, positive content to keep people engaging with you throughout this time. Each post is an opportunity to remind people that you are still here and to keep your customers up to date with new menu items, hours, delivery options and more.
We are living in unprecedented times and many businesses are struggling right now. Ensure that you are doing as much as you can for your restaurant by taking action on the above tips. You’ll also find these tools useful as you move out of the crisis and back into the day-to-day operating that you’re used to.
If you picked up a marketing tip to help get you through these times, check out these other articles:
- The Essentials of Hospitality Marketing
- 7 Practical Strategies to Promote Your Hospitality Business
- 3 Actionable Marketing Tips for Seasonal Businesses