Surviving the Challenge

Your restaurant CAN survive the fallout from COVID-19. I’d like to offer some solid tips on creating a manageable takeout and delivery program — even if you already have had one in place for years.

This information will hopefully help you attract and maintain sales. It will also allow you to keep a partial workforce in place.

I am under no illusion about the damage COVID-19 is doing to your business, and because I make my living working with restaurants, chefs and food companies, my business has come to a grinding halt as well. It’s going to be bumpy for quite a while.

Yet I believe we will all ride out this storm, and we need to help out and give back if we can.

What you do now with take-out/delivery will likely continue in the future. Engage now or plan your engagement if you have chosen to close during this period.

Here are some ideas:

If you are offering takeout, be sure to be added to timefortakeout.com if you are located in SoCal or search your area for local resources.

Keep your menu simple and easy to produce, reducing labor costs. Promote the handful of menu items that hungry diners can’t find anywhere else. What is your differentiation?

Make sure the communication you release to your guests is not so much self-promotion as community driven or it could be off-putting or may backfire. For example, suggest gifting a meal to an elderly neighbor couple at a discount, or offer a roll of toilet paper free with every order.

Consider offering ‘family meals’ or ‘heat and serve’ meals; lasagna, enchiladas, soups, chili, sheet pan desserts etc., that may feed a family of four or more for more than one day. Include a ready-to-toss salad, bread, bottle of wine and dessert in the package for a complete meal out-the-door. Post photos of your family meal on social media both in the package as it’s delivered as well as the plated meal ready to eat showing both the convenience and the appetizing final result.

Assuming you are already set up for take-out and/or delivery, POS systems can help, as well as websites, social media and more. Make sure your website and social media platforms are up to date with what you are offering during this time. Keep in mind that people stuck at home are absorbing social media like never before!

Uber EatsGrubhub, Postmates and DoorDash might be worth the investment if you have been hesitant in the past. Many are offering discounts or zero cost to join them now – take advantage.

My friends at KYNBO app just added a to-go filter and icon to help diners quickly find all restaurants offering to-go/take-away with a tap.  They have waived all costs and suspended all paid subscriptions, and increased staff to help restaurants update/add to -go/take-away menus during this challenging time.  ANY restaurant can be on Kynbo and use this service.  Check out their website for more info or email support@kynbo.com.

Is a subscription plan an option for your business? Think coffee (beans or brewed cups to go), wine club, beer growlers, all the makings of a signature cocktail, etc. How would that work/look? Be sure to check your local laws – some require a food purchase with alcohol purchase.

Do you have a rewards program? Are you using it to its full potential right now?

Pop-ups, co-ops, chef cameos and more, are a few ways to consider attracting more people to your business or supporting it when it returns. There are lots of opportunities with these, consider them or talk to me about how this might work for your restaurant.

Experts in the restaurant industry are saying it is likely not a V-shaped curve return, but a gradual return. Do you have your long-term plan in place?

Consider if a part time staffing solution where you re-hire more of your part employees might be a better solution than re-hiring fewer at full time.

Join your local Restaurant Association and other local and national associations. Keep your ear to the ground as opportunities for your staff and your business are coming from all corners to help you maintain your livelihood.

Build partnerships with your suppliers and consider planning events together for the ‘celebration of normalcy’ we all look forward to.

Talk to your suppliers about product with a shorter shelf life that you may be able to purchase at a reduced cost that you can turn around quickly (and safely, of course). Think over ripe produce for that signature cobbler you offer.

Market yourself now more than ever – we are all reading and consuming a lot on social media platforms and news outlets.

Love them or hate them, Yelp & Google review sites are just as important now as ever, especially as people are spending more time on-line. What are you doing to build this audience and secure good reviews?

Support your team, look for opportunities for meals for them or provide them at your restaurant through cooking, gift card re-purposing or becoming a drop-off for other services providing meals. Consider trading gift cards with other restaurants to share with your team and the other restaurant can share with theirs.

Help your team enroll in unemployment, Restaurant Association programs, and to secure local loans.

Reach out to your local Representatives, Mayors, Governors and Federal government and advocate for help. #saverestaurants

And remember …

Together we’re stronger. Together we’re better. Together we rise. Stay safe and healthy everyone!