We are currently truly facing a “1 in 100 years” event..an unthinkable business crisis and an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the travel and hospitality sector. The Government, Public health organisations and self-proclaimed influencers may all offer their advice or guidance on how to deal with the virus, but there are many lingering questions as to how to deal with the fallout.

In this article we share some of the advice we are giving to our restaurant and food service clients in these turbulent times.

Ideas to keep sales and protect the business

Right now, we are dealing with government forced closures of services (and even borders), consumer fear, public health advice to maintain social distancing and an overall panic mode. This, in return has brought about declining consumer confidence, less disposable income and continued health concerns – not to mention the potential societal changes that may result in long term reductions in travel as companies have been forced to manage in (low-cost) remote working modes.

As a Marketing and Online service provider, we are forced to ensure our customers stay afloat and find ways to maintain some form of revenue. So let’s have a look at some ideas that may help your restaurant and perhaps shield your business to be able to overcome this unparalleled event.

Promote Restaurant Reviews

Promote your Google and Facebook as well as TripAdvisor to get more reviews accumulated in this time when people are online. Email your previous customers, create a dedicated page on your website (similar to the Greek Deli here or  MANE here) or simply ask them to drop you a review in this difficult time.

Employ Reservation System

If your restaurant does not employ or use a reservation system for your bookings, now is the time to look into it. You have time on your hands and data (bookings) to analyse the volume of visitors you get. So sit down, take a pen and paper and go through some reservation systems that may work for you. We would advise considering Resmio and ResDiary who are partners of CFM Group.

Ask Customers for Dish Ideas

Create and curate a variety of social media posts about customers sharing their ideas about dishes you could add to our menu when your restaurant re-opens. Ask them to review your current menu and let you know of tweaks or ideas they may have already had from some of your existing dishes.

Add a Newsletter Subscription

Add a blog to your website where you can regularly blog and inform people of your news, updates and how you are coping this period. It allows people to stay longer on your website, adds content which helps with your Google SEO ranking and provides the ability to create a Newsletter for people to subscribe to and you to collect email addresses.

Promote Gift-cards & Vouchers

Create posts and videos promoting your gift-cards and vouchers. Many restaurants have turned to encourage customers to buy gift vouchers for future visits or gifts, which is a great idea. This will bring cash in the short term, and ensure that you will have guests in the restaurant in the future. You could then offer a percentage of your takings from them or simply match the voucher purchase and offer it to the NHS trust of your choice (or your customers choice to create engagement). Being kind and considerate in this difficult time can go a long way with your customers, especially if many of them are key workers.

Curate Supportive Posts

Create generic posts and advice about the pandemic, how you and your employees are coping at home and how we are all united in this and need to be united. At adverse times like this, being understanding, communicating and simply ..talking to your customers can help you retain your client base and create a community feeling on your social pages.

Be Innovative with Recipe Boxes

A step further on from the delivery and collection opportunity, you could look to offer recipe boxes with the items needed to cook guests’ favourite items on your menu.

Post About How You Are Coping

Inform your customers on what you are working on the past weeks, how you – as a restaurant – are coping with the pandemic and what measures you are looking to employ.

Keep Fans & Customers Engaged

Just because things are tough now (for all) does not mean they will be like this forever. Keep a positive note on your social media posts, emails, newsletters and blogs and remind people of the good times had and ..to be had at your restaurant in the near future.

Promote your Website and Social Media

Promoting all pages on your website along with your gallery and story as a company and team. Everyone is online these days so this is the time to make use of your social media channels and run relevant promotions, boosts or campaigns to keep your audience and fans engaged and interested.

Create a Competition

Create a competition where people can sign up by giving you their email and they get a chance to win a table at your restaurant worth an £x amount to enjoy at better times and have something to look forward to. This can not only create engagement but also shares. What is more it allows your company to collect email addresses which can be valuable in times like these.

Email Marketing

Whether you use a reservation system or not you should be able to export or have a database handy) of all your customers that have booked with your restaurant the past few years. Drop them all an email (within GDPR practices) and assure them of your restaurants longevity and ability to come through this as well as keeping them engaged with links to your social pages, blogs and competitions as mentioned above.

Look into Delivery/Collection

Consider Takeaway or Delivery again as it is currently a massive stream of revenue for many restaurants. Re-focusing your restaurant to be able to offer a deliver or takeaway (ideally both) service, could be the key to riding out the corona-virus storm. Feel free to click here to have a look at our previous article and options available.

Social Media marketing

This is the time to make use of that Facebook pixel you have had installed for ages now. Create clearly targeted campaigns by designing Lookalike campaigns to target an audience similar to them that have already shown an affinity or interest to your business by visiting your website. These times may be hard but remember everyone is online now so..Social Is King.

Create low key reasons to visit

With major events being cancelled and potential health concerns around big gatherings, you could look to put on low key seated events on a local level – keeping numbers manageable and distance between the tables.

What is more, here are some little extra Business Ideas for your and your restaurant at this difficult we advise to all of our existing customers:

Business ideas:

  1. Speak to your Landlord about rent
  2. Identify new opportunities
    1. Analyze POS data for food cost savings
    2. Partner with local businesses nearby and create a Hub
    3. Create an NHS promo to support our health workers nationwide
    4. Stay aware of government help and funding
  1. Speak to staff about offering takeaway or delivery
  2. Use this time to identify issues at the restaurant you can fix via your Reviews online as they offer a good indication
  3. Have a plan for when the restaurant re-opens and how you will drive business
  4. Take care of your staff

The corona-virus pandemic is a worldwide crisis, unprecedented in our lifetime and possibly never to be seen again in the next 100 years. No-one at the moment, from governments to businesses, can speculate or estimate how long it will last, nor what the global economic impact will be. All we can foresee as a business that works with a variety of companies in many sectors, is that if social distancing remains, the scars on both society and economy will last a very long time.

Use this “temporary economic pause” as an opportunity to build real relationships. Your restaurant is in the business of selling experiences — human experiences and connections that transcend food or finances. The current pandemic is a bizarre and unprecedented crisis in the sense that it deprives us of the one thing that helps people adapt to crisis: each other. Your restaurant can be the place people come to feel that connection again.

From everyone at CFM Group to our people in the hospitality industry: stay safe, stay connected, and let’s all get through this together.

CFM Group works with over 25 restaurants nationwide and is able to not only provide unique custom websites but also Social Media advertising as well as an Ordering System for our clients to support their operations. Simply have a look at our many clients on our portfolio or contact us on the links below to arrange a FREE Consultancy meeting, send me an email at [email protected] or Follow me below on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram