2020 has been a tough year for restaurants. The coronavirus pandemic hit the food industry particularly hard. Many restaurants suffered significant losses and struggled to generate enough revenue to continue operations. Those restaurants that have opened since then now face new difficulties with adjustments to local protective measures.
Many restaurants have struggled and been forced to close or severely reduce business and cut staff. Meanwhile, some others saw great success. Those that have boomed during the pandemic have had a few secrets in common. Here are some things they did right to grow in 2020:
When restaurants were forced to close in-person dining operations, customers shifted to takeout orders. Businesses that had clear, updated online menus had an immediate advantage. Separated menu categories that made it easy to find lunch from dinner options, for example, made the experience smoother.
Others had difficult menu experiences. Menus that were scanned in and at a small font were too difficult for some customers to navigate. Some customers tried to place orders and found that certain food options or pricing was outdated. Many dining options that had very little online presence before had to adapt quickly or face losses.
Many restaurants in the early pandemic stages were forced to close temporarily, change their operation hours, or had reduced availability of certain dishes depending on food supply shortages. Restaurants who took steps to make sure their customers were informed about their changes before ordering had happier, and more consistent, diners.
Some restaurants posted clear visible signs about their policies for those who try to come in-person. Online notifications, including notices on a website or social media page, can be helpful to let customers know what to expect.
Restaurants may not have control of changes or their timing, but communication with customers is key. As restaurants have continued to make changes according to local pandemic policies, those who have kept their customers updated ensured that they had business throughout open hours.
Digital ordering requires a different strategy: a clear website that is as easy to find and navigate as an in-store experience. Customers need to see contact information at a glance and know whether they need to place an order over the phone, online, or have options for both. The right ordering system should make the process easier for you as well as for your customers.
It’s important to utilize effective online ordering technology to manage incoming orders. Having a system that integrates with phone ordering can be huge in keeping simultaneous online and food orders organized and processed on time. The best systems offer end-to-end integration with your restaurant management software.
Diners are likely to have concerns around their safety in the ongoing pandemic. Whether dining in or ordering out, customers want to know that their restaurant has been following sanitation procedures. Restaurants that make it clear to customers that they’re taking special precautions make them feel more comfortable.
Restaurants that have policies about mask wearing, table spacing, and extra sanitation should communicate this to customers. It’s essential also to let customers know how your restaurant handles the situation of an employee becoming sick. Customers want to see that restaurants have an intentional response to COVID-19 so that they feel safe with the food, interactions with employees, and coming into the location.
Many restaurant experiences don’t transition well to takeout. Even when quality food is delivered, there can be a lot missing that restaurants put into the regular in-house experience. Some restaurants may try to find ways to incorporate little details of their brand and experience to include in takeout orders.
An example is restaurants that have created family meal pack discounts to try to duplicate the family experience. Others have offered meal kits for make-at-home pizzas or cakes to create an activity to do at home. This sort of ingenuity and flexibility has huge dividends for restaurants who are able to see a need for at-home family activities for those who are looking for things to do.
In constantly evolving stages of the pandemic, local regulations change and restaurants are forced to constantly adjust. Those that have taken advantage of these few secrets have been able to see more success and growth in difficult times. ToGo Technologies can help your business with a quality online ordering system that can keep you ahead of future changes in the food industry.