Can a restaurant survive Covid 19?
The restaurant industry, like many others, is facing the biggest crisis it has seen for many, many years. The question is, can a restaurant survive COVID-19? It will certainly be the culling of the weaker restaurants and the survival of the fittest restaurant. But what exactly does the fittest restaurant mean? Does that mean all small restaurants will fail and only the biggest will survive? Not necessarily. It means the businesses that have a strong restaurant marketing strategy in place. Those that have a loyal customer base and who have taken care of their good reputation, their customers and their staff. Basically, Win Win restaurants will weather this storm.
On a personal note, this crisis hits home. My husband’s restaurant is, and will be for months now, hit not only by the quarantine, but also by the withering purchase power of restaurant goers.
After the first week of shock and closed doors (and let’s be honest, relief from the grueling life of a restaurateur), we realized that we needed to act. Not only act, but also make lemonade out of these lemons.
Luckily his restaurant has a strong reputation, a loyal following, and …here’s the kicker…a thorough, established restaurant marketing strategy which means he’s prepared with a solid business and customer base underfoot. He been gathering people’s contact details and communicating with them for years. The perfect scenario to allow us to change tack, and begin marketing restaurant delivery services.
Restaurant delivery and take out is the quickest and most efficient way for your restaurant to survive Covid 19. And while you have a head start if you’ve already been doing strong marketing, you can still make your way in this new adventure even if you don’t have a strong existing base.
In order to help fellow restaurateurs put in place marketing restaurant delivery, I’ve put together our quick restaurant delivery strategy that has been relatively easy to carry out and very effective to make sure our Restaurant survives Covid 19.
Here are our 20 steps for marketing restaurant delivery
- Partner. You don’t have to do this, but why not? It gives you wider reach and a more complete offer. Plus is makes it like an ‘event’. We paired up with a wine cellar, but you could also do so with a bakery, brewery, whatever fits your business. Agree your terms. We shared delivery and each got a small cut of the profits for any of the other’s products delivered. We also did co-marketing, sending out emails to our respective databases, and posting on our social media channels. The great thing about this strategy is you are increasing sales for now, but also building awareness and restaurant marketing for the future, when your restaurant is open and back to normal.
- Should you use Uber eats marketing or Deliveroo marketing? You can try it, and depending on where you are it might be interesting if that is the only way you can open up to restaurant delivery. However these businesses are just that – businesses. And they often gouge or take an enormous amount of the margin. Why not try delivering yourself? After all, your staff need the work.
- Use your staff. We got our staff involved. It’s been really hard as a business to watch all of our loyal staff struggle with the cut in hours and the uncertainty. Besides saving the restaurant for ourselves, we knew that saving jobs was important. Even more reason to make the marketing restaurant delivery work. We kept a few of the staff on board to do the delivery for us, avoiding the gouging some delivery companies are doing, as well as allowing them to pick up tips. We also have some helping from home with marketing restaurant delivery, but also preparing the marketing for when the restaurant opens. Let’s face it, there are always restaurant marketing activities that get put aside because we are too busy. This was the perfect time to catch up on all those restaurant marketing ideas you’ve been meaning to get to. In addition the staff even helped with the packaging and prep work. This also prepares for the future. Treating your staff Win Win will make them even more loyal when you are up and running again.
- Messaging is key. How you present this is important. We were straight up. Telling people that we missed being a restaurant as much as they missed being our guests. We told them that we were conscious of the importance of staying home, but also how hard it is. So we wanted to support the community in its efforts to stay home.
- The food. We rotate the menu every few weeks to keep people interested (a repeat customer is more efficient than getting in new customers). We also try and create dishes that most people don’t bother to do, either because of lack of knowledge (ethnic foods, etc) or the length of preparation.
- Selection. We are including things like sauces that customers to make life easier when customers are cooking for themselves and to encourage larger orders.
- We use food prep technologies like vacuum packing to make sure that people can purchase more than just one meal at a time, aiming to up the spend per person and delivery.
- Attractive and fair pricing. While not cheapening our brand or offer, we made sure the pricing was fair, no gouging. We give free delivery for 50 dollars or more, which means delivery is worth our while, and encourages people to discover that they could order more than just one meal’s worth of food.
- We deliver only one day a week, making it the most efficient for us (cooking and employee), and since people are home all the time, it’s fine for them.
- Taking orders. We put together a landing page in about 1 hour using a free Mailchimp account. We made the messaging clear, included the details (delivery and payment details), menu and a contact call to action. Orders are sent to one of our ‘stay at home’ staff who sends the orders to the chef.
- Orders. A simple excel sheet in a Google Drive folder is enough to keep the orders straight and the chef informed. As the staff member takes the order he integrates it into the excel sheet so the chef can follow the orders. And since we deliver only on one day, we can be prepared.
- Restaurant delivery kit. Have a kit prepared with everything you need – invoices, bags, packaging, as well as a word of welcome, suggestions on pairings, and directions on how to reheat. Include some goodies, like mints, sweets, stickers to stick in the bag as a little surprise. And make sure there is a card in the bag that they can pop on the refrigerator (even better if you can have magnets made) to keep you top of mind!
- Getting the word out. Of course we reached out to friends, colleagues and partners not to ask them to buy, but to spread the word.
- We began sending out emails with just a short catchy description and a link to the landing page. Here’s the important thing – we sent just a few at a time so we could manage the flow of orders.
- We started posting on social media, in local groups, on our own site, asking friends and influencers to help us spread the word. And we keep it up. One of our staff continually posts the new menu, photos of the food, even of the delivery staff to all social media pages.
- We ask people to post their images, and to send us photos of them enjoying their meals, with tables set. We even have images of our delivery staff with bag in hand. This helps create an event, build community and gives us images and content for continued marketing.
- We are creating ‘events’ to keep the deliveries going. We all know that events are a strong driver for filling downtimes in restaurant marketing. So create some virtual events – date night, surprise someone on their birthday, virtual friend meals, etc. Some people are even inviting their friends to dinner by picking up the check before hand. With such a strange time, and everyone pretty open to the craziness that can ensue, you can get creative.
- With a whopping 70 % repeat business we are putting in place a ‘subscription’ and a loyalty module. More on that later.
- Use the restaurant marketing strategies you normally use at your restaurant – a referral program, a loyalty program, birthday emails, etc.
- We make sure to reconnect with customers every few weeks to remind them of our service and present our latest menu to keep things fresh in their mind and attractive.
The reception of our restaurant delivery service has just been astounding. Not only are people appreciative of the food and the ability to continue life at home, but they are impressed by the flexibility and entrepreneurship we have shown. Maybe we’ll even keep doing and marketing restaurant delivery after the Coronavirus situation is over?
This marketing restaurant delivery has certainly been Win Win.
Get the Win Win Restaurant Marketing System for more ideas and done for you resources throughout the restaurant lockdown and beyond.