The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, even outside of lockdown. Customer numbers are down, restaurants are short-staffed, and owners are stressed out trying to keep up with restrictions and measures to keep everyone safe. Here are a few tips to help you survive until you can open as normal again.
Pivot Your Business
You need to keep an income coming in, even if you’re getting funding from the government. It’s also a good idea to keep yourself at the forefront of your customers’ minds, so they’re raring to come back and see you as soon as you can open again. How can you pivot your business to help you stay afloat and hold onto your customers?
Lots of restaurants have started offering delivery, but is there anything else you could do? Could you create ‘cook at home’ boxes of some of your most popular dishes, for people to finish cooking at home? Can you help your suppliers by allowing people to order ingredients like quality meat from you? Could you sell tickets to online cookery or chef skill classes? If you’re bringing people back to work to cook for delivery or dine-at-home boxes, you might need access to a private Covid test, if only just for peace of mind.
Hit Social Media
Get on social media and keep posting. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and anywhere else your customers are. Use social media to talk about what you’re doing while you can’t open as usual, the safety measures you’re putting in place, and share promo codes for whatever you’re offering instead of dinner in the restaurant.
Share pictures of your staff. This humanizes your business and makes people more likely to want to help. Share content from other small businesses that you like or that share your local area. This can extend your own reach, and you might be able to help each other out.
If you’re sharing content from other businesses, think about whether there are some ways that you could team up with them. For example, if you’re sending out meal kits, could you partner with your local off-license to send out a great wine to pair with your food.
Is there a hospital near you? Ask if they’re accepting meal donations for their frontline staff. If they are, add an option on your menu that lets people donate a meal to the NHS, and make it clear that you’ll deliver it. People have been very generous to key-workers, so are likely to love the idea of sending a delicious lunch to someone on a tough shift. You get another meal ordered, and get to do something good at the same time.
The current situation is going to be a real challenge for all kinds of businesses, especially in the world of events and hospitality. With some creativity and a hard focus on customer engagement, you can make survival more likely, so you still have a viable business left when things return to normal.