Living in a post-pandemic era, the restaurant industry has had its ups and downs– closing locations during the lockdown, adjusting to outdoor dining and new government health regulations and finding different approaches to increase revenue from adding delivery and take-out options to making meal kits for customers to create their own high restaurant quality-like dishes at home. Restaurateurs may be looking to grow sales and increase their customer base at this time to stay afloat until they can fully operate inside.

We’ve compiled a few tips on how you could stay afloat and grow your restaurant business during a global pandemic:

Display outdoor furniture that is optimized for cooler weather

Autumn is here– as the weather is transitioning to cooler temperatures, it becomes essential to invest in heaters and furniture that is going to keep your customers warm such as heat lamps and tents that allow air movement. Starting September 30, New York City has allowed restaurants to open indoor dining at 25% maximum capacity. Despite the new regulations, many restaurants are still cautious about opening indoor services. According to Dezeen’s article, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio will announce “guidelines for restaurants to heat outdoor areas during the cooler winter months” by the end of September. In the meantime, you can read Colorado’s Guidance for Outdoor Dining Structures to see how other states are preparing for the cold season. 

Invest in eco-friendly takeout packaging options 

If you are using plastic bags or any other non-recyclable packaging for your delivery and/or takeout orders, you should start looking for eco-friendly alternatives. According to Nielsen, over 80% of global Gen Z and millennial consumers expect businesses to invest in environmentally conscious programs. And caring about the environment is becoming a more pressing issue this year due to the increased numbers of fires and hurricanes. There are many sustainable food packaging options available: Beyond the Box, a blog site of EBP Supply Solutions, published a helpful article on eco-friendly takeout container options for your business. 

Many restaurants are getting creative with their packaging, and in such a competitive environment like hospitality, investing in creating a brand is always helpful. Brooklyn Chop House transitioned to biodegradable to-go packaging with their logos after customers requested the restaurant to be more eco-conscious with their containers. Using sustainable packaging will not only decrease your ecological footprint but leave a positive reputation for your restaurant. 

Be transparent with your cleaning and sanitizing strategy as much as you can

People say wearing masks has become a new norm. As we have been adjusting to new etiquettes for keeping everyone healthy, restaurants have higher demands from switching to contactless orders, sanitizing and cleaning their locations to training staff, and paying rent when sales are down. James Michel, Bio Recovery’s senior estimator, claimed that customers feel more at ease when they know the restaurant they walk in is cleaned and sanitized. Some ways to publicize your restaurant’s safety practices are: 

1. Have sanitizer available at the entrance and on each dining table

2. Post pictures/ videos of a professional cleaning service cleaning your restaurant areas on your business social media account

3. Display your restaurant’s COVID-19 safety practices at the entrance and/ or on your website.  

Use government grants and organizations fighting to keep restaurants afloat 

When the COVID-19 crisis hit in early 2020, restaurants were unprepared, and unfortunately, some had to close their doors permanently. Major restaurant chains have created solutions to support local restaurants during the crisis. Recently, Toast launched Rally for Restaurants for consumers to support their local restaurants by sharing on their social media accounts. To become a participating restaurant, you can visit Add Your Restaurant page to add your restaurant in the directory. Also, Resy announced that they will provide 100% relief on all Resy product and service fees until December 31, 2020, to existing and new restaurant partners

To find more information such as relief funds and grants, COVID-19 support resources, and recorded webinar, please read What Now? COVID-19 Survival Guide for Restaurants.

Try referral marketing

The most ideal way to operate your restaurant, in the long run, is to lower customer acquisition costs (CAC) and increase revenue. Word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful that it “leads to 20-50% influence decision making of 20-50% of people”. Using referrals from previous customers is a sustainable and cheap way to gain new customers that will love coming to your restaurant. Referrals are made between friends that share common interests, so it’s easier for them to enjoy your restaurant if their friends and family love it too. Read our blog to learn more about how referral programs lead to an increased number of repeated customers

Our solution is an innovative and automated way that incentivizes your current customers to share your business with friends and family, in exchange for a referral fee you pay when the new referred customer visits your restaurant.

If you are ready to give the referral marketing app a try, sign up on btwn for free now!

Last update: October 13, 2020

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