Across the United States, restaurants are once again being subjected to dining-room closures as the new wave of COVID has begun to pick up momentum. Reports across Chicago and New York of state officials taking action to restrict indoor dining and up-ending the new normal we’ve come to function within over the past year of intermittent quarantine. Governer Pritzker of Chicago being the latest to join his colleagues in their efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting dining-room activity.
Some restaurants have opted to protest these business-altering restrictions and continue to keep their dining-rooms open despite the rulings of state officials. Others, in lieu of losing their dining-room service abilities have opted to pivot their focus to online sales and developing their virtual presence. Any way you roll it, restaurants are fighting back and learning a thing or two along the way. In an article released by Detroit Free Press, Chef-Owner James Rigato speaks candidly about the lessons he’s learned during COVID:
“I’ve fed thousands of people in my parking lot, hosted dozens of virtual cooking classes, cooked in a mask in home kitchens, streamed cooking tips during virtual corporate meetings and partnered with cider and cognac brands to keep revenue coming into the restaurant. And you know what? I kinda liked it. It was twice the work for half the price, but I’ve connected with guests in a new and sincere way. I revisited what made me fall in love with cooking in the first place: the guests experiencing your hospitality.”
We all get into the restaurant industry because of our love of food, and we stay in it because we enjoy creating a unique experience by extending hospitality to our diners. And while dining-rooms are closing and restaurants are forced into exploring new options, what would happen to dining options if we were able to create that same unique experience without losing half your revenue to do it?
Create A Unique Dining Experience– Online
When dining-room closures began, restaurants everywhere had to give up their custom atmosphere and unique dining-room experience to simply selling food any way that they could. As restaurants were navigating these operational curveballs, we began thinking of ways that we could bring that unique presence to the online menu. What components of a menu can help a diner feel truly served? And the answers that came were similar to the experience a customer has in person.
Just as a hostess makes the first impression of a restaurant, we’ve created the ability for our Smart Menu to interact with your diner in a welcoming way. Visiting a new online menu can be a lot like setting foot into a new restaurant for the first time. Upon entering, the customer has yet to taste the cuisine and aren’t even sure how to get to the bar. New online menus can be similar, especially when they aren’t formatted to suit a mobile phone or other devices outside of a computer screen.
For this reason we made MenuCalc’s SmartMenu adapt to any screen, and gave restaurants the ability to customize with their own brand colors and even allow the menu to change to reflect the time of day. If it’s bright and early in the morning, customers don’t want cheeseburgers (well, most don’t). So why should the listing be stagnant? Creating a unique online atmosphere is all about customization to facilitate a personalized user experience.
Pop quiz: When a customer orders a meal, how often do they make changes or ingredient substitutions based on their preferences? Let’s be honest, it’s nearly every time. And with this meal customization, many times customers are also interested in particular ingredient information. This information could be anything pertaining to lifestyle and taste preferences to avoiding allergens as a safety precaution. Whatever the need may be, SmartMenu gives the end-user the opportunity to replicate the ordering experience of a real dining-room through the online menu. But wait there’s more…
Detailed Dining Insights
How valuable would it be to know your diner’s dining desires? What would it mean to you if you could see all the ways that your customers interact with your menu and its ingredients? That’s another benefit of implementing a SmartMenu into your online menu. (As if you didn’t see that one coming). Each time your customer interacts with your menu, whether they are removing an ingredient or opting for an allergen-free version of your menu item, MenuCalc’s SmartMenu tracks it all and gives you a bird’s eye view of your customer’s dining behavior. These diner insights are crucial for helping your restaurant make decisions about everything from new menu items to promos and even marketing efforts.
Connect and Reconnect
Once you’ve unleashed the power of MenuCalc’s SmartMenu, you’ll never look at virtual dining the same way again. One of the very best and most important parts of running a restaurant is serving your target audience. When you are in front of your customer, you are able to receive feedback in real-time. If a customer is dissatisfied with a dish, they can instantly let you know, and just the same when you are satisfied. However, in this virtual world, there are little to no touch-points with your customer. Your menu is simply connected to an online payment processing system and many pass right through checkout without as much as a single comment. And on the other end of your menu lies your “contact us” page where diners can leave complaints, ratings, concerns and so on. But what if your customers had the ability to interact through your menu? Yep, you guessed it. With SmartMenu, the interaction with your diner just became seamless.
Just because your dining room is closing, doesn’t mean that you have to be disconnected from your diner. MenuCalc’s SmartMenu allows you to take back your dining-room, right through your online men. Curious about how SmartMenus? Want to reconnect with your customer? Contact us and discover the missing link between you and your target diner.