Coronavirus & The Restaurant Industry

(An open letter to restaurant owners and managers)

During this Covid-19 health epidemic restaurants are closing their doors and laying off staff, fast. Here are a few tips that some of my clients (who are in the restaurant industry) have found beneficial to continue bringing in takeout and delivery orders. 

Buying Decisions: What Your Customers Actually Want

If you’re like many places within not just the U.S. but the rest of the world, you are probably finding that a mandatory quarantine is keeping customers confined to their home. What’s going to set you apart  now more than ever is whether or not your restaurant is perceived to be safe or not. I’m 100% saying you should follow the guidelines outlined by the CDC and other state and local mandates but what needs to happen (and fast) is you need to make sure your customers know this is happening. 

Here's My Recommendation:

One of the best ways to not only set yourself apart in the fast-growing competitive landscape is to put a banner image and menu tab up on the homepage (or most visited) page of your website. This does not have to be fancy or over-complicated in the messaging but something that visitors see right away to let them know you are taking their health seriously.  

What I’ve been doing for most of my restaurant industry clients is creating a new page that has an “open letter” to all site visitors once they click on this button. 

Restaurant Tips for Coronavirus

Here's The Exact Letter on The Subsequent Page:

Below is the new page that was created to convey the messaging, as you can see it’s not lengthy and addresses the most important information. During this time a local community is going to support whatever restaurant you may have so it’s very important to come across as serious but friendly and welcoming. Below the letter are three buttons to easily call, browse the menu or start a pickup order, easy.

Collect Emails - Direct Line To Customers

This isn’t a deep dive into email marketing but something that will help you in the foreseeable future is to start collecting your customer’s emails. My restaurant client’s have a simple email form on their sites that offers to keep visitors updated and in the loop about future promotions. This is simple and to the point. 

If you haven’t started collecting emails yet, it’s not too late. Even if you spend an hour to “set it and forget it.” In the coming weeks I’ll add a quick tutorial here about how to add an email form into your site, assuming WordPress is what your site is built on (which about 90% of restaurants are using).

Takeout & Delivery Orders

Dining in is now longer an option, we know this. But customers can still come in and pick up food. You probably already have a system in place for when customers come in but what we’ve found to be effective is to have different “stations” that people can go to. Just some ideas for separate stations:

The main idea here is to streamline the various deliveries and 3rd party pickup orders that are booming. Depending on the state that you’re in some locations are allowing for takeout beer, liquor and other spirits *check with your local state laws – this is just for reference.

This alone, takeout alcoholic drinks, is a novelty that most people do not get to experience on a daily basis. Showcase this and help to increase revenues. 

Delivery Orders:

Some restaurants have their own deliveries and others solely use 3rd party drivers (Grubhub, etc.). Across the board you should control your messaging but most importantly the experience that your customers will have when your food is delivered, obviously you’ll have a bit more control over your own drivers than those of Grubhub. 

What we’ve noticed is a lot of people are asking for porch drops of their food, a no-contact experience. This however doesn’t mean that the driver can’t give a friendly call to the customer to mention the food is being dropped and hope all is well.