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Thriving, Not Just Surviving: A Comprehensive Guide for Restaurants in the Post-Pandemic World

June 08, 202310 min read

“We are in the midst of a restaurant evolution, with many embracing delivery services, ghost kitchens, and virtual brands..” - Brandon Q, Co-Founder EatUp

Introduction:

Covid-19 affected various industries, including restaurants. During the pandemic, we saw restaurant evolution, with many embracing delivery services, ghost kitchens, and virtual brands.

Though lockdowns negatively impacted this industry, chains have continued to grow. As states open their post-pandemic, restaurants face a new battle- getting people into their dining room. Competition is heightened with new players, such as convenience options that bring food to dinner home, still penetrating the market.

The data from the National Restaurant Association indicate that over 110,000 drinking and eating establishments permanently or temporarily closed when the pandemic hit the economy hard in 2020. Though this statistic may seem bleak, the analysis showed food service and restaurant industries are on the rebuilding track.

As many people get vaccinated, and restaurants begin to open their doors, there is light at the end of the tunnel with some consumers sitting in restaurants for the first time after more than a year of alternative options. Restaurant brands’ re-entry will succeed post-pandemic when they embrace technology as they juggle between in-restaurant diners and those who want to eat from home. Let’s consider some tips to help bring customers back to the restaurant.

8 Reasons

Post-pandemic tips to bring customers back to your restaurant:

As the economy reboots, restaurants begin to get in full gear post-pandemic, but with intense competition, you need practical tips to bring customers to your restaurant. Here are some examples:

1. Update your Business Plan

Since the Covid-19 outbreak hit the globe, the food industry has been adversely affected. Lockdowns led to the permanent closure of some big-named restaurants since management found themselves operating at losses. Restaurant businesses often run on incredibly thin profit margins, and disruption from the pandemic chip on the margins even further.

In the post-pandemic error, you may still experience cash flow issues until your business rebuilds. You do well to stock take and revise your business plan. As you rework your plan, pay attention to your financial plan and business model to determine how much revenue you intend to make. You could also focus on reducing expenditure and promoting growth.

What matters in reworking your business plan is to make it effective, streamlined, and lean. You want to have clear plans that can be translated into actions and results. Some tips to improve your business plan include:

  • Focusing on deadlines, dates, responsibilities, key performance measurements, tasks, and people. Ensure you make specific updates on your restaurant’s projected costs, sales, expenses, and cash flow.

  • Emphasizing the process by making schedules and regularly reviewing meetings.

  • Focusing on measurable results by emphasizing performance goals

2. Abide by the CDC Guidelines

The world is not out of the woods with Covid-19, and the CDC intends to keep a keen eye on the situation. They have released detailed guidelines indicating how restaurants should operate in the initial stages of post-pandemic.

Furthermore, several states also have supplementary regulations that encourage limited seating capacity and distance seating for in-person dining. Ensure you familiarize yourself with the new regulations as the world shifts to the post-pandemic era.

Though some states and countries have lifted several pandemic-related restrictions, abiding by health standards helps customers trust that they will be safe. You will likely get valuable reviews online that may attract more customers to your restaurant.

3. Use Technology

As restaurant owners plan to reopen their doors and attract loyal customers, how they bounce back is important as when they do so. Fortunately, innovations have made it possible for restaurants to access valuable technological resources as never before.

Approximately 50% of restaurants have added new services and products because of the pandemic. Some technological innovations have propelled restaurants' success, helping them face new challenges head-on.

Streamlined Payment Options

Consumers in the post-pandemic era want fast and digitized payments at a restaurant. Statistics show that 84% of consumers love restaurants that accept contactless and digital payment methods.

Post-pandemic, we see a rise in digital payment solutions for various businesses, including restaurants. Most restaurants embrace technological payment, with 55% indicating that digital payments are valuable in their future operations. Wix Point of Sale (POS) solution is one of the streamlined payment solutions restaurants can adopt.

Besides helping businesses to manage online orders, POS systems also provide useful information about customers. The data from this system can help restaurant owners identify customer trends and patterns. For instance, it can give you insight into which menu draws more people and which ones do not. This knowledge can help you determine which area or menu in your restaurant needs improvements to attract more customers.

Augmented Staffing Solutions

Many restaurants lost their employees during the pandemic, meaning that some tasks were not taken care of. How do restaurants cope with this labor shortage?

Some embrace autonomous solutions such as conversational platforms, chatbots, and call assistants to fill the lacking workforce. These innovations allow the management to track call volume to inform their staffing decisions. Interestingly 90% of restaurants say that using automation removes the weight on staff to focus on important tasks.

4. Revamp Your Website

Operating a restaurant post-pandemic could involve introducing new policies. If you have not incorporated these changes on your website, you could include these changes on the website.

You could include a section on your website for Covid-19 response where you share a message with your customers about the safety precautions. You could also include alternative dining options you may have, like deliveries. Additionally, you could add useful features to your websites, such as an updated menu and online ordering. Update your photos and videos to remind your customers of the quality food they will enjoy at your establishment. A website will help with your visibility, grabbing search engines’ attention. Google and other search engines prioritize a well-built website with more valuable information than social media pages.

If you have a website, search engines will likely give your website link to people who search for your services before presenting social media links. A higher ranking will help you attract potential customers. Websites are also a source of crucial information for customers. A restaurant’s website should help prospective customers learn about the restaurant’s location, foods on the current menu, the drink you serve, special promos and offers, and contact information such as emails, phone numbers, and social media.

5. Send Your Customers Welcome Back Emails

People are still apprehensive about visiting restaurants even as countries open up their economies. You can reassure your customers that you have the necessary precautions to enhance their safety. You could also tell them what they will find when they come to your restaurant via email.

Let your customers know your policies to improve services and make them feel safe. Your emails should come from a real person on your team, like the CEO, and not automated. Studies show that a message from a real person has a 27% unique click rate.

Personalized welcome back emails encourage a one-on-one buying experience, thus increasing loyalty and trust. Most marketers (74%) agree that personalized emails enhance customer engagement rates, delivering six times the transactional rate.

By sending the welcome back emails to your clients, you inspire confidence and make them feel loved and remembered. It enables your former clients to try your post-pandemic dishes and probably ditch alternatives to your in-restaurant dining.

6. Adopt Check-in Apps

Most diners love checking in and showcasing photos of the special dishes they have ordered. You can leverage this by ensuring your restaurant is connected to such sites as Uber Eats or Yelp! You can encourage your customers to use these platforms by offering discounts to those who do so.

Additionally, you want to pay attention to your reviews on various dining sites. If you notice several negative reviews on your site, respond promptly to correct the situation and ensure your reply is customer-centered.

Facebook is also an ideal platform, allowing you to frequently post discounts and other special offers to customers who check in. Promote your online presence by posting a sign inside and outside your restaurant, reminding dinners to check out your website and social media pages.

If your regular customers checks-in using one of the apps, you could offer them free desserts or appetizers. Loyal patrons undoubtedly love your food; that is why they keep coming and providing positive reviews. You can bank on these reviews to influence their friends who see them dine with you.

You could employ an omnichannel POS platform to help engage with your clients and organize customized loyalty programs tailored for certain groups of customers. Antavo’s Global Customer Loyalty Report 2022 showed that 2.1% of the surveyed restaurant owners agreed that rewarding loyal customers helped them continue engaging their customers during the pandemic.

You could reward your customers for referring friends to your restaurant. You could also focus on big loyalty programs with email promotions based on customer purchase history, thus ensuring the program resonates with your customer base.

7. Join Other Businesses

After a lengthy shutdown, everyone is struggling to recover and get back to their best. You could join forces with contemporary business, as you mutually help each other. For instance, you can team up with movie theatres and offer a movie and dining package. You could also work with farmers who sell fresh ingredients or contact a local florist. There are endless lists of organizations and businesses that you could team up with, especially those that resonate with your business model.

The dual business discount can be challenging for some establishments; however, you can work with what works best. The secret is to keep the arrangement direct and simple. For instance, if we take the restaurant-movie theatre arrangement, you could stipulate that a customer brings a movie ticket to get a 20% discount on their meal. They could receive a similar discount at the movie theatre by presenting a receipt from your restaurant at the movie theatre.

8. Contact Local Influencers

Do you know local influencers with great taste in food? These influencers could be individuals who frequently dine out and post their reviews on sites like Google or Yelp! If your local influencers have thousands of followers, you can leverage their following and improve your sales.

Track down active individuals on social media in your locality to sample your food and post reviews. You could offer them complimentary meals for their honest reviews. Local influencers will also help promote your restaurant brand awareness, introducing your establishment to those who have never heard of it in your geographical area. Since local influencers can deeply connect with their followers, they will likely generate more meaningful engagements.

Furthermore, using local influencers is a cost-effective way to promote your brand. You only need a few incentives to entice them to sample and share your products with local followers. Your restaurant will tap into their followers, meaning you will get new followers and tap into a wider market near your restaurant.

Most viable customers live within your locality, and you need local influencers to get the locals to your restaurant. Local influencers also increase authenticity since the review comes from outside the restaurant. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing strategies, especially from influential individuals.

9. Ensure a Safe Environment

As you practice the above tips, remember to focus on your customers’ safety. Ensure you regularly check CDC guidelines for your area and go the extra mile to provide cautious customers with alternative dining arrangements.

You can have all these precautions you take to run in the background. Instead of having a customer focus on them, ensure your services and food are top-notch and at the center of your operations. Make your customers comfortable that what they remember is the quality food and service. Don’t forget customers who don’t feel comfortable coming to your restaurant but would prefer deliveries at home. Show these customers that you care for their needs by helping them enjoy your meals at their homes.

Bottom Line

The pandemic hit hard on the restaurant industry; however, there is light at the end of the tunnel with most economies opening up. Restaurants can apply various technological tips to attract customers post-pandemic. It is possible to overcome the stiff competition in this industry and make your restaurant successful.


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