The food and beverage industry has had little time to react to the global pandemic that is COVID-19. Just a month ago, it was business as usual for restaurants across the country. But, as we know, the situation deteriorated rapidly over the course of March. Few restaurants were prepared for such a cataclysmic change. With inside dining banned for the duration of social distancing ordinances, those restaurants that chose to remain open for takeout face a daunting task. High labor costs and a decrease in demand have led many restaurant owners to shut their doors completely, uncertain if they’ll ever open again. Restaurants that rely on the high-profit margins of alcoholic beverage sales are among the hardest hit. Below, we outline some strategies that have proven effective for restaurants during this unprecedented moment in time.
Proactive communication with customers
Having an online presence for your customers is more important now than ever. Many restaurants already command a sizable following on their social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube). Providing constant updates on business hours, takeout menus and delivery options will keep your followers engaged, and increase the likelihood of conversion. On Google, there has been a 285% increase in searches over the past few weeks for “take out” across the U.S., and the similar term “food delivery” has risen 100%. Even if you do not have a heavy social media presence, it is still important to update customers wherever you can. Post updates on your website, send emails to your newsletter subscribers, update your hours on your Google business profile and websites like Yelp.
Emphasize safety and sanitation
Perhaps the most striking Google search trend for the restaurant industry, “is food delivery safe”, has spiked 650% over the past weeks. Consumers across the country are clearly concerned with the safety of their food above all during this public health crisis. Communicate to them the specific steps you are taking to focus on the safety of your food. Requiring masks and gloves for your employees, addressing time off for ill employees, more stringent cleaning procedures, and updated training materials. Your pre-emptive communication on these measures with your customers will help give them peace of mind and instill confidence that your food is safe.
Explore all avenues for revenue
Ordinances relating to COVID-19 differ depending on the location of your restaurant. States, cities, and counties have all had varying responses to the outbreak. In Virginia, for example, Governor Ralph Northam OK’d takeout/delivery beer and wine sales last month. Just yesterday, he issued another order greenlighting the takeout/delivery of mixed-beverages. This could be a game-changer for many restaurants across the state. Be sure to on top of the laws in place in your local jurisdiction as they have a huge impact on your strategy.
Use this downtime to update your online strategy
Ask yourself how you’re using social media, email, and text messaging to communicate with your customers. Are there areas in which you can improve and coordinate communication with online tools. Are all of your landing pages, menu pages, and reservation pages mobile-friendly. Are you making it easy for customers to use new tools like Apple pay, Google wallet to facilitate easy communication and touchless transactions? Do you use search engine optimization tools to assure your locations, menus and hours of operation are all up to date?
Now is a great time to answer these questions and explore affordable solutions. ApolloBravo Is offering free website reviews and social media presence evaluations for restaurant owners during the current pandemic. We want to see you bounce back stronger than ever and service your customers in this rapidly changing retail environment.
Stay safe and we will see you soon.
Contact us for your free evaluation. ApolloBravo is a digital agency in Alexandria Virginia that specializes in customer engagement, digital marketing, Google ads, and Facebook marketing, with a focus on mobile devices.