When you’re getting ready to leave your home, how many of you are doing the same mental check that I do now? Keys. Check. Wallet. Check. Mask. Check.
For most of the year, our nation has dealt with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The mask that we cannot leave the house without has become part of our new reality and a searing reminder that the way we go about our lives and conducting business has changed. No one knows if we’ll “return to normal” or what our new normal may look like when this is all over.
Among other industries in this country, the restaurant industry has been hit the hardest in terms of sales and job losses, according to the National Restaurant Association. The industry has lost more than $185 billion in sales between March and August, and more than 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed during the same time. These numbers are quite jarring.
There’s so much about the pandemic and its impact on our lives that we cannot control. So, I say, let’s focus on what we can control. Control the Controllables. The restaurants that are surviving, or indeed thriving, during this time are not trying to maintain the status quo or wringing their hands over their circumstances. They are pivoting. They are innovating. They are looking at their business models and finding new and different ways to serve their communities. If you are reading this, and you are unsure about your next steps, keep reading for a few ideas, and contact us for an in-depth discussion about the best ways to pivot your business to survive the pandemic.
Ask yourself what are you doing each day to grow your business? You owe it to yourself and to the people you employ to keep your business operating at a sustainable level.
1. Bring the restaurant to the people. Local and state regulations may limit your dine-in capacity, but not your delivery, take out, and catering.
2. Use your social media to leverage your strengths. Among the advantages independent restaurants have over chains is that they can use social media in a way that drills down the audience to the people you serve. Speak to your community.
3. Your staff is the ultimate asset. Your employees, from managers to the busing staff, are invested in your success. Your growth not only improves their financial situation, but if you manage well, they also support you as a leader. They will have your back and promote for you. They could have killer ideas that can help. All you have to do is ask and show appreciation.
4. Adapt your menu. Trim items that do not sell and highlight what does. Also, bringing seasonality into your menu that will help keep your offerings fresh.
5. Love your customers a little more. As simple as this sounds, it is imperative we treat our customers better regardless of how the customers get their food. If you give them 5-star service, they will reciprocate by returning and telling their friends.
As I said earlier, Nisa Consulting Group has the insight and ideas to customize a plan for your business to succeed beyond COVID, Contact us for an in-depth discussion about the particulars of your circumstances. We hear this all the time now, probably because it’s true. We’re in this together, and we’re stronger together.
How many times have you walked into a restaurant and waited several minutes before being acknowledged? How many times have you had your mouth set for a particular menu item, only to hear that it’s out temporarily, leaving you to order something else or nothing at all? How many times have you asked restaurant staff a question only to be met with rudeness, or worse yet, indifference?
These are the primary reasons why people don’t return to a restaurant. The trust has been broken. When a new customer walks through your doors, for the most part, they are taking the chance that they will be met with good food and an overall positive experience. In other words, they are trusting you. Once you’ve broken their trust, the chances of them returning are close to zero.
At Nisa Consulting Group one of our core tenets is Building Trust with Consumers. The worst kind of restaurant is one that does not engender trust with its staff and customers. No matter how exceptional your food is or how aggressive your marketing is, once the word circulates that your restaurant is not to be trusted, it’s a difficult climb to regain market share.
Have you ever wondered why some restaurants stay busy while others close their doors soon after opening? The successful ones put a premium on customer service. As an independent restaurant adopting trust-enriching behaviors will help set you apart from other eateries in your area. The restaurant that earns and keeps their customer’s trust will stand the best shot at remaining open for the long haul.
Here are a few ways that you can enhance the experience at your restaurant and instill trust among visitors.
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In 1989, I was captivated by the movie, “Field of Dreams.” It was the heart-warming, tear-jerking story of Iowa corn farmer Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner), who ardently followed that voice that seemed to flow from within telling him that, “If you build it, he will come.”
Since the movie’s release, those words have taken on a life of their own, as businesses have adopted that phrase and transformed it into their mantra, “If you build it, they will come.” The thought is that if you simply open your restaurant, people will immediately flock through your open doors. However, the truth is that unless you are opening an established brand like Chick-Fil-A or Shake Shack, that is not likely to happen.
“They will come” if you build and execute a marketing strategy before you even open your doors. When it comes to restaurants, building a customer base takes time. It takes strategy. It’s the “business” part of the business. And while the quality of your food is certainly of the utmost importance, the quality of your service needs to resonate with your customers. Quality food, friendly service, effective operational procedures, and enticing marketing—these are the building materials that will make your restaurant dreams come true.
As you go forward with planning or reviving your restaurants, I want you to consider a few concepts.
Are you a new restaurant owner who needs guidance? Are you an existing restaurant looking to relaunch your brand? Nisa Consulting Group is here to help. Click here to schedule a free consultation.