Regulations are changing by the minute as a global pandemic continues to unfurl in the middle of an election year. Relying mainly on dine-in customers is not an option right now. In order to stay above water, your restaurant must pivot.
Thankfully, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled 5 best practices for effectively pivoting your restaurant during COVID-19.
Listen to your customers.
The only way to ensure you’re meeting market demands is by understanding what your customers actually want. For example, if your customer base still doesn’t feel comfortable going out, you should worry about opening for dine-in service. Instead, double-down on your delivery and curbside pick up options.
Keep a pulse on how locals feel about the pandemic. Watch your order numbers closely for what your customers are craving. If you’re not sure, poll them on social media!
Pay attention to local happenings.
Be aware of upcoming federal, state, and municipal decisions that may impact your ability to do business. Anticipating new regulations will help you adjust rapidly in order to continue operating without hiccups.
You’re not going to nail a bull’s eye on your first try. In fact, you’re aiming for a moving target. Each pivot you make will teach you something new, and you’ll be able to continue iterating as you find what works. Individuals’ needs will continue to change, as will regulations — be prepared to pivot as your environment does.
Always be testing.
It’s easier to be agile when you already have a few strategies in the wings. If you’re anticipating a law to pass that limits your ability to maintain dine-in operations, have a plan on deck for new carry-out specials. Or, announce free delivery for a week.
Similarly, introduce new limited-time offers more frequently. Try out new options for meal kits, drink kits, and discounted delivery deals.
Your patrons are having just as hard of a time keeping up with the rapidly evolving regulations as you are. Make it super easy for potential customers to understand their options for dining with you. Regularly share updates on social about how customers can patron your restaurant. If you have an online ordering system, make sure it’s easy to use and extremely visible on your website.
In the event that an employee or patron tests positive for COVID-19, the best course of action is to be transparent about it. Make a clear announcement stating facts and the precautions you’re taking to minimize the impact. Word will get out one way or another — customers will be more upset if you attempt to hide the outbreak.
Start pivoting for increased revenue.
Your restaurant doesn’t have time to waste. As the election rapidly approaches and new information about the virus continues to come to light, be ready to react. You’re not going to win the lottery with your first adjustment, but you’ll learn plenty. Just be prepared to pivot again soon.
Without a strong website for your restaurant, you will struggle to convert hungry potential customers into happy patrons. Is your site up to snuff?