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  • Writer's pictureJesse Josephic

5 Ways Restaurants Can Increase Sales During Coronavirus

According to the restaurant industry research group Technomic, one-third of Americans say they plan to dine out less frequently. That is terrible news if you own a restaurant.

The World Health Organization has officially classified COVID-19 as a pandemic, the NBA suspended the season, and the US has halted travel to Europe. If that's not enough, our beloved Tom Hanks has the virus. And things are only going to get worse.

So what can you do to ensure that you can keep your customers and employees safe while paying your bills?

1. Focus on Delivery

People are going to stop coming in. If it hasn't happened to your restaurant yet, it will. To combat this, consider refocusing your efforts around delivery, which will minimize the risk of virus transmission. Maybe move some of your staff to delivery roles, where they can make up those missed tips. Offer contactless delivery and tamper-proof take-out packaging and wave the charges for it. If you can't offer delivery yourself, heavily advertise ordering through your third-party delivery partners (DoorDash, Postmates, Uber Eats, Grubhub).

2. Focus on Pickup

The other opportunity to minimize risk and maintain a steady flow of business is having robust options for pickup. One of the best things you can do right now is to offer curbside pickup, so people do not have to enter the restaurant. If that's not possible, provide quick-pay so they can pay upfront as soon as they order. Third, start promoting premade to-go containers and consider having healthy options like salads or wraps, while still offering some guilty pleasures, and maybe even create some meal-kits. Last, push the free pickup options available through your third-party delivery partners.

3. Optimize Your Website and Social Media

Number 3 is the biggest way you'll make that dip in sales back. Get on the horn with your web guy immediately and optimize your website to make its purpose aimed at selling deliveries and pickups. Even if that means promoting the third-party delivery partners.

Now, more than ever, if you aren't posting quality content daily on your social media, you are losing business. Now, more than ever, if you aren't running effective ads on social media, you are leaving revenue on the table. A lot. Revenue that you're going to need with the decrease in foot traffic. In 2020, you can expect only about 5.5% of your followers to see your posts on Facebook, so you'll need to do more than just post daily to stand out in the sea of competitors. I've recently written that the best marketing advice you'll ever get is that you only need to be better at it than the people around you.

And one foolproof way to send your restaurant sales through the roof is to use social media and advertising effectively:

Check out these official Facebook Success stories for restaurants to see what it could do for you:[0]=restaurant

4. Rewards For Regularity

Now's the time for that rewards program you've wanted to do because the statistics are very much in favor of restaurants offering customer loyalty programs. Annex Cloud's customer loyalty stats showed that loyalty programs increased their overall revenue by 5-10%, the loyalty members spent 5-20% more than non-members, and members bought 5-20% more than others. There are easy ways to implement a loyalty program, so you don't have to hire a team of developers.

5. Increase Sanitation Measures (And Communicate Those Efforts)

This one is the most important. According to Technomic, the top two ways that customers want restaurants to respond to coronavirus are giving sick employees time off and following proper sanitation procedures.

Ask your staff to stay home if they feel any symptoms and be honest with your customers if a staff member contracts the virus (while not disclosing anyone's identity). Additionally, some restaurants are rearranging their dining room to keep tables 5 feet apart wherever possible and encouraging diners to eat outside.

Increase hand sanitizer dispensers, clean shared utensils more frequently, and wipe down tables and chairs after each use with fresh or disposable cloths. Be sure to use disinfectants recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, and increase the sanitation frequency of high-contact areas, such as door handles and kiosks.

The National Restaurant Association suggests that restaurants provide hand sanitizer and tissues to keep customers comfortable. Consider having your employees wash their hands more frequently, on a schedule, and after particular actions. To help with the increase in cleaning duty, you may want to shift staff roles. To give you an idea of how serious this is being taken: Starbucks is having employees wash hands every 30 minutes and sanitizing some areas of the store as often as every eight minutes.

Keep your community in the loop on everything you are doing and plan to do. Communication and honesty are essential.

Be sure to stay up to date with state and local health departments for the latest information and advisories in your community and keep in step with the latest guidelines from ServSafe:

If any of this is overwhelming for you, we’d love to give you a complimentary 30 minute strategy session. You’ll leave knowing exactly what you need to do to grow your sales in your restaurant:

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