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Marketing 360® Blog

Out-of-the-Box Tips for Restaurants Impacted by COVID-19

Restaurants are facing big challenges that require creative solutions.

The coronavirus pandemic has left many small businesses facing an uphill battle. Although lots of restaurants have been able to keep their doors open by offering take-out or delivery, many have had a difficult time making the transition, or would like to be doing more.

The most difficult problems don’t always have simple, one-size-fits-all answers. Often, it takes a little creativity to solve the toughest problems. And, restaurants all over the United States have stepped up to find creative solutions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Creative Ways Restaurants Can Cope with COVID-19

#1. Repurpose your staff.

Without the ability to provide in-person service, many restaurants have had to lay off their servers, bartenders, hosts, bussers, etc. But, if you’re still in business, you might be able to utilize some of your employees in other ways, rather than letting them go.

Delivery and carry-out have been the saving grace of restaurants across the country, but that has left many restaurants with no other option but to turn to third-party delivery apps, like DoorDash and Uber Eats, which come with high fees. If you have employees on your staff who are willing to deliver, start offering in-house delivery for your customers.

Make sure that you consult local labor laws in your area to learn about any additional steps you need to take in building an in-house delivery system.

#2. Sell groceries or kits.

Not all meals are designed to be good for take-out. In fact, it could be argued that most meals are best when you can eat them hot and fresh in a restaurant. However, if that’s the case for the meals you serve, you can always help your customers recreate the experience at home by offering kits with everything they need to make their favorite menu items at home.

Many restaurants that have found themselves with too much food for the reduced demand have pivoted to start selling that food to the people in their communities that need it. While these restaurants aren’t bringing in the revenue they were before the pandemic, this allows them to keep bringing in some money, while also being a source for quality ingredients when the community needs them.

#3. Rethink your menu.

As I said before, not every meal is picture-perfect for take-out, especially if it will take more than a few minutes for your customer to get home to enjoy it. If your menu consists of meals that taste much better fresh out of the kitchen and can’t easily be recreated at home with a kit, you might want to consider changing up your menu.

There may already be items on your menu that are ideal for carry-out or delivery, and you should make those the stand-out items on your menu. You might also be able to tweak other items to make them better for carry-out or delivery, or you might be able to create brand new items using the ingredients you regularly order.

#4. Offer online ordering.

Online ordering is a must these days for any restaurant that wants to be able to offer carry-out or delivery options without having to rely on expensive third-party apps. It also gives your customers the option to place an order online rather than having to call you to place an order.

With online ordering, you’ll be able to provide your customers with options. And, the more options you can provide for your customers, the more likely you’ll be able to meet their needs accordingly.

Is your website equipped to handle online orders? If not, start building a more effective website for your business with the Websites 360® website builder today!

#5. Expand your services.

As a restaurant owner, you have more to offer your customers and community than just great food. Chances are, you have a lot of experience in the kitchen, and now is the perfect time to start sharing some of that experience with others.

A lot of people are, for the first time, relying on themselves to get food on the table for every meal. This has proven to be exceptionally difficult for the nearly 30 percent of Americans who say that they can’t cook.

By creating online cooking classes for your customers and community, you can show them that, with a little know-how, cooking can be easy for anyone. You can even help people make the most of what they have by producing content centered around creating a meal when you have near-bare shelves.

#6. Sell gift cards.

No matter how many safety precautions you take to keep your customers and employees safe, some people are still going to be nervous about ordering food while the infection is still spreading so much. However, even if they don’t feel comfortable ordering food, they can still support your restaurant by buying a gift card for future use!

#7. Get the word out.

There are many different changes you can make to the way you do business that can help your restaurant stay afloat during the pandemic. However, regardless of the changes you decide to make, it’s imperative that you keep your customers in the loop.

Here are a few ways that you can, and should, get the word out about any changes you make:

  • Send updates out via your email marketing lists.
  • Keep your community in the know about any changes via social media.
  • Update your Google My Business and other listings to reflect new hours and options.
  • Make any changes to your business clear on your website so that, no matter what page someone lands on, it’s not difficult for them to figure out how they can support you.

There’s no point in keeping your restaurant open if no one knows you’re there, so whatever you do, make marketing a priority within your business. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend an arm and a leg on your digital marketing efforts, but you shouldn’t take the gas off of the pedal.

Whether you need help transitioning your restaurant for life and business amid the pandemic or you’re looking for professional restaurant marketing guidance, learn how Marketing 360® can help today.