Restaurant’s Guide to Survive a Second Covid Lockdown

We are in the middle of the second wave of covid19. Even though we knew it was coming, especially with most kids back to school, it seems like many businesses were in denial and did not prepare for this.

Let’s face the fact, restaurants will always be in the group of businesses that can affected with restrictions and lockdown. But that doesn’t mean food and beverage business owners can’t thrive in these times.

Here are a few tips on continuing to make money during the second wave, especially throughout the harsh winter.

Take Advantage of Christmas Meals (Think Ahead – New Year’s Eve Meals)

Many people are not celebrating Christmas or the holidays in any normal way this year. Which means, you will see lots of frozen turkeys sitting in the grocery store instead of being gobbled up. But that is a good thing for restaurants. Plan a Holiday Meal Kit NOW! Think of ways to serve your community with these meals. Include meals that are good for two, four or even six people. But don’t go too big. Also, think of meals that will cater to various dietary needs – Gluten free, vegetarian, etc. And include a dessert too. Normally we don’t think about Christmas meals until probably December. But this year, all rules are out the door. The earlier you plan, the better.

Office Party Gifts/Meals

Along with the above Christmas meals ideas, many companies are not taking their teams out for big holiday meals this year. Many of them are looking to buy their employees a gift instead. An easy option is to offer gift cards to these businesses. You can even offer a discount, if they purchase over $200, they get 10% off. An incentive for them to buy from you instead of another company. Another great way is to offer the packaged meals for Christmas but just market it to the office crowd. For the companies that do have employees inside an office setting, they might want to provide their employees with individual meals instead of a pot luck type of meal.

Partner with Other Brands

If you sell cheese, find a company that sells wooden boards, jams, cured meats for example and put a package together and sell it together. The fewer stops people have to make, the better. If you are able to provide both delicious food and convenience, you are winning. Plus you can also gather the marketing power and audience from all the businesses you are partnering with and potentially speak to thousands or more people.

Continue to Use Social Media

I see so many businesses that just seem to have given up on social media. But more than ever now people are glued to their phones. Which means you can really get in front of a lot of people and get your products in front of them. People often look up businesses on social media before they even look them up on Google. If they cannot find you on social media, or worst, they find you but you haven’t updated your feed since March, they assume you are not around anymore or active. Make sure you are also updating your hours and any changes to your COVID procedures on social media so people can feel safe making the choice to dine with you.

Offering Delivery As Well As Take Out

Most places offer take out which is great. But make sure you are using a platform that can handle your take-out and delivery orders. There are many options, find the one that works for your business and profits. A bigger thing to focus on is delivery. Many people want to try a restaurant and would spend the money, but they do not drive and cannot get to the restaurant to pick up. If you don’t offer delivery, you are essentially removing them from your potential customer lists forever. This may be okay pre-pandemic times, but during the pandemic, you need every single dollar from every single potential customer. Don’t miss out!

Offer Something Fun For Your Customers

Whether it is a cookie decorating kit or a cocktail making kit, think outside the box to keep your customers engaged during the winter months. Not only will you be making some money but your customers can have ways to support you during the pandemic in a fun way. You can even host a Zoom meeting with your restaurant bartender where they can demo some drinks. 2020 is the year to think differently and try anything and everything. You have the your customers’ undivided attention right now and they are all for supporting their favourite local businesses.

Offer Some Sort of Subscription Program

I have seen restaurants offer wine subscriptions which is a fantastic idea. Think of what your business specializes in and offer a subscription for your specialty item. For example, a bakery offering a baked good subscription. Every week, the subscriber gets a baked good surprise delivered to their door.

Reconsider Having a Brick & Mortar Location

Being realistic, 2021 will still be very tough for the restaurant industry. Even if within a few months, there is a vaccine that works and everyone is safe from covid, people have changed. Covid changed the behaviour and patterns of human beings and we cannot be naive in thinking that everything will go back to normal. If you have a brick and mortar location, think if it will be worth it for you to continue to have the physical location. That is not to say, shut down completely. But maybe you can operate a ghost kitchen and split the cost of another restaurant with another business owner. Maybe you rent out a commercial kitchen and scale your menu and staffing back that way and only offer delivery or curbside pick up. Think how successful Pizza Hut still is. They use to have physical locations all over the world and now they mostly operate in small take-out only models in North America. It might be hard and painful to scale your business back this way, but it might be the only way to survive the pandemic. Food for thought!

Lastly, Marketing is Your Friend…

Whatever route you decide to take during the second wave to stay afloat, you need to still promote it and market it properly so customers know what you are trying to sell! If you decide to start doing delivery, put a marketing campaign behind that plan and make sure you are communicating it well. Often times, ideas fail not because the idea was bad but the marketing excution was bad.

As always, if you need any assistance in your food marketing game, reach out to me and we can chat further!