2020 presented a crisis in the restaurant industry that nobody was expecting. Restaurants across the country had to close their doors, limit their hours, and come up with creative and safe options for service. As restaurants are beginning to reopen, here are some ideas to keep your restaurant safe, compliant, and open for business.
1. Allow customers to participate through engaging DIYs. QSR Magazine highlighted Blaze Pizza’s innovative idea of using Blaze stores to build community as locals pick up their favorite pizza ingredients and create their own pizzas from the comfort of their own kitchens. Blaze’s website highlights this opportunity by explaining how the “Double DIY Pizza Kit” allows you to “share a fun activity with someone else.” This is a brilliant way to cultivate community and build up local morale. Does your restaurant have any DIY-type initiatives in place? Think about how you can best serve your community, and implement fun community-building ideas such as Blaze’s DIY initiative. Having customers come in for a quick pick-up is a good way to slowly open your business back up and get customers to come to your storefront without feeling that they have to stay for a long period of time.
2. Clearly communicate about your efforts and services. Since customers are looking online more and in-person less, you must clearly show them (whether on your website, social media page, or Yelp results) that your business is safe, accessible, and ready to serve them! Ryan Olohan, the Managing Director of Food, Beverage & Restaurants at Google, wrote that there is a “650% increase in search interest for ‘is food delivery safe’ across the U.S.” and a “285% increase in search interest for ‘take out’ across the U.S.” in his article on Think With Google. Clearly, customers want to know that your take-out options are safe and ready for them to use. Thus, it is crucial to ensure customers that any dine-in options are safe and sanitary! One helpful way to educate customers on your safety policies is to install safety infographics where customers are waiting in line. This way, they can see your efforts as they wait to be served. Additionally, don’t forget about customers ordering takeout. Since they will likely be ordering from their computers or phones, make it easy on them by including information about your delivery options and safety from the start (this will encourage them that it’s safe to come to your restaurant in person as well). Additionally, have a trusted and helpful Customer Service line that can assist any questioning customers. By clearly answering your customers’ concerns, you will be building trust and creating new customers.
3. Be proactive about implementing safety, no-contact, and social distancing practices. In her article on the WebstaurantStore blog , Janine Jones shares a detailed checklist for restaurants wanting to reopen. This checklist includes the idea of implementing “social distancing practices and contactless procedures” through mapping out a routine customers will take through your store, using disposable or digital menus, differentiating an entrance door from an exit door, and creating space in your lines so customers can maintain a 6-foot distance. These practical suggestions will enable you to reopen ahead of the curve and will allow your customers (and employees) to feel safe and comfortable. Helping customers to feel involved, informed, and safe will allow you to successfully reopen your restaurant. As you slowly begin the transition from remote to in-person, give your customers time to adjust as you start opening your doors once again. As you engage with customers, show customers that you care, and implement safe practices, you will be building up your community and establishing yourself as an effective restaurant that truly values its community and customers.
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