Given the recent spikes in COVID cases in the other parts of the world, it is quite likely that we will be experiencing our own version of COVID-19 Round 2 in the upcoming winter season. In the last 6 months, we have benefited from the option of outdoor dining. As the weather gets colder and outdoor dining is no longer a viable option, it’s important that we observe the safest operational practices possible while limiting dining indoors and looking for opportunities to remain flexible with other methods of serving the consumer. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of best practices for restaurants during COVID-19 that we hope you will find helpful amidst this transitional time.
#1: If You Haven’t Yet, Go Contactless
As mentioned in our previous articles regarding contact-less dining during COVID-19, it is important to safeguard not only your customers, but your staff as well. The most commonly shared item between your waitstaff and your dining patrons is your menu. If ditching your menus seems daunting to you, never fear, we’ve got an easy solution that will save you time and money while reducing your potential contact with any germs during this winter season.
These nifty little barcode-looking symbols have been around for a few years now and began to phase out until just this past spring when COVID hit and dining became difficult. A QR code is a code that, when scanned, can open up to a restaurant website and even a — you guessed it — menu. If you have an online menu already in place, your customers can easily use their smartphone’s QR scanner (which comes standard on nearly every android and iphone) and link directly to your menu. Your customer can easily order their food and complete checkout without having to place a finger on your menu.
#2: Pare Down Your Menu
In the last few months, appetizer sales have decreased so dramatically that many eateries have opted to just remove them from the menu completely. And where family style meals were a more cost-effective option during the spring months, there has been a steep decline in the amount of share-ables being ordered by families. Now the trend is to order a simple meal that is cost effective and created for an individual to consume without sharing.
Simplifying your menu to rely on staples that don’t require a lot of ingredients to prepare makes it much easier to supply the demand of this new diner trend. As we well know, diners are also craving clean ingredients that can positively impact their health and improve their immune systems. Relying on fresh vegetables and simple ingredients will not only prove to be cost effective for your profit margins but in your overall ordering process with your food vendors.
#3: Create a New Way to Dine
For the longest times, restaurants have sold far more than delicious food. It has been their mission to provide an unforgettable experience each time a patron visits their dining room. However, now that COVID has changed the way we dine, restaurants have been challenged to extend that experience from their dining room into our homes. Many marketing teams have found success in offering virtual date nights through their social channels.
For example: Buffalo Wings & Rings has held a themed virtual happy hour each week through Facebook Live. The events drew 80,000 participants and increased sales by $40,000 through delivery and takeout orders from the participants.
#4: Stay Flexible
Restaurants who have mastered the art of the pivot are the ones who have managed to thrive throughout this pandemic. Broaden your horizons and offer options in addition to your menu offerings such as toilet-paper, fresh fruits and veggies as well as other staples that customers can quickly pick up along with their curbside order.
As the threat of the second wave of COVID looms around the corner, we’d do well to remember the empty shelves and limited options at grocery stores everywhere. Creating opportunities for consumers to meet their needs and feed their bellies in one quick swoop will keep them coming back for more as the months get colder.
Want to learn how to make your menu more flexible? Check out MealBuilder. Our menu-customization platform allows the diner to customize their order and view their nutrition information in real time while you track your online traffic with custom analytics. Sounds great right? It is. Contact us to learn more today.