Business Insights

Building Customer Trust: Tips to help your restaurant through COVID-19 times

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Preparing your restaurant for off-premise dining

With the sudden shift to running a restaurant that offers full off-premise dining, it’s important to take stock of touchpoints that will help customers find you, make it easy to do business with you, and streamline the operations for your staff.

Consider the following as you make your plans.

1. Audit your website and online presence

Take a step back and look at your restaurant through the eyes of your customer.
Consider these few things:

  • What is that experience like online?
  • Is your website up to date with the most current information?
  • Have you claimed your location(s) on Google My Business (GMB) and/or Yelp? Make sure you’re staying up-to-date with each platform and responding to guest posts whenever possible.

Tips

  • State how you are operating and following CDC guidelines

  • Update your business hours if they've changed

  • If you've made menu adjustments make sure your site reflects this

  • Is it easy to find how to order food?

  • Clearly articulate your payment options if anything has evolved making the process more hands-free

  • Given the influx of to-go orders, consider integrating a chatbot to help with communication

2. Are you ready (for) to-go?

Do you have a process in place to handle to-go orders? Via phone or online, take stock of how prepared you are (or aren’t). Consider these:

  • Trial the process of ordering with your restaurant through every option you provide (on-website, third party, phone). Is it easy to navigate and find your featured items? Is it intuitive? Does it function properly?
  • Can customers find your business online? Make sure you’ve spent time cleaning up your Google My Business profiles and social media accounts. Are there local listings you should be a part of? Many Restaurant Associations and industry organizations are featuring lists of local restaurants. For a listing of sites to consider: click here.
  • Could you offer things differently? You may want to think about (re)evaluating your menu.
  • Do you have enough to-go supplies? You have a lot of carry-out and delivery orders, make sure you’re prepared for the influx of those types of orders and stock up on your packaging.
  • Do you have an answering message set up? Reassure your customers you’re up and running for business and that you’ll be with them as soon as possible
  • What are you communicating to your guests about potential wait times when dealing with an influx of calls?

Tips

  • Simplify your menu to save on costs, streamline kitchen staff needs and build efficiencies

  • Evaluate whether your food “travels well” and isn’t something best served immediately

  • Include a sympathetic message that’s transparent about the volume of calls being received during this challenging time

3. Remember to prioritize safety when working with third-party delivery services

A significant number of restaurants are already partnering with UberEats, GrubHub, Postmates, etc. But how can you extend your restaurant’s health safety protocols for delivery orders?

  • Use tamper-free packaging to ensure that your customers feel safe when ordering your food through third-party delivery apps. In fact, 46% of consumers say they want to know you’re using tamper-proof seals on food packages to ensure your handling their food safely.*
  • Consider including documentation on what to do when a guest receives their order, before they dig in.

Tips

  • Whenever possible, limit the surfaces the packaging touches

  • Remove from the bag and dispose of it straight away

  • Wash or disinfect your hands before you start eating

4. Implement techniques to eliminate touchpoints

It’s strange to have to think about all the ways you can eliminate touchpoints with your guests. But now’s the time.

  • Ensure you’re taking proper measures to reduce the opportunities for any physical interactions between your staff and the food, and again between your staff and your guests.
  • Communicate your safety efforts to your customers via social channels and your website (*remember that ‘building trust’ idea?).

Tips

  • Consider moving to a pay-ahead model to simplify the pickup transaction

  • Eliminate the need for pens and other writing utensils

5. Be social, human and be transparent

Share what you’re doing through your social media platforms during this time to gain trust, confidence and to reach customers so they’re aware of the measures you’re taking to prevent contamination.

Tips

  • Communicate some of the things you're doing to keep your business running

  • Communicate your safety protocols (show pictures)

  • Promote the sale of merchandise, gift cards etc.

  • Use trending hashtags in relevant posts for increased visibility (Instagram - consult the explore tab. Twitter - use the integrated search engine to follow trending topics)

  • Entice your customers to post pictures of their to-go/take-out experiences with you and tag your page with discounts or extras

  • Consider paying it forward and supporting a relevant matching or donation program, to an organization fighting the pandemic

6. Get creative

Our worlds have been flipped upside down, and how we used to operate is no longer a constant. It’s time to start assessing your customer’s behavior during this time and adapting your operating model, even in small ways to meet their current needs and lifestyles.

Tips

  • Offer individual wholesale products/ingredients

    Ex: Alcohol, ingredients etc.

  • Assemble lunch and dinner kits

    Perhaps of most popular meals

  • Host virtual classes, events, and content

    Broadcast on your social channel

  • Explore partnering with other local restaurants to offer unique "bundles"

  • Market catering to businesses looking to provide a unique experience for their employees working from home

  • Repurpose your space

    Turn your parking lot into a drive-thru (Ex: Los Sombreros)

*Datassentials

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