When disaster strikes, how will your restaurant handle it?
In a world rife with natural disasters, recessions, and pandemics, restaurant owners must be flexible and agile enough to withstand uncertainty, while still having a plan in place to survive and recover whenever these events strike.
In these instances, it’s no longer about understanding customer desires and capitalizing on trends. It’s now about taking care of needs and ensuring the safety of your customers and your business.
In order to survive such dramatic shifts in customer demands, you need to combine agility and creativity.
Evaluate Cost Centers and Cut Where Possible
Making cuts to any area of business can be difficult. Sometimes, however, it is inevitable. In order to protect your business, weather the storm, and be able to come out of a disaster ready to operate at full force, you must be able to make sacrifices somewhere. Review your labor and inventory data very carefully to understand where you can afford to make cuts and where you can’t.
In the event of recessions or pandemics, when fewer people are going out to eat, you’ll need to evaluate which positions are mission-critical.
If customers aren’t able to enjoy a meal on your premises, it won’t be cost-effective to keep FOH staff at full force. Perhaps schedule employees for fewer days or shorter shifts. In extreme circumstances, furloughs may be necessary, though it is wise to refrain from letting employees go completely. Once the disaster is over, you may need them in order to operate effectively and you don’t want to burn those bridges.
If you have the right restaurant technology like a POS system, you can use the data and management tools it provides to help optimize labor and streamline tasks so you can reduce labor costs without cutting too many hours.
It’s important to take inventory of everything to see what you have on-hand. Try to adjust your menu offerings to include meals or ingredients you have on hand and stretch your current inventory as far as possible to prevent waste and spoilage. You may need to create new specials and promotions to entice customers to order items that need to be moved quickly.
Invest in an inventory management system before old, wasteful habits come back. Now is the perfect time to assess your old processes and identify any sources of waste within your inventory so you can better optimize it. An inventory management system can help you increase inventory accuracy, reduce waste, cut costs, and improve the overall quality of your inventory management.
Now is also a good time to reach out to your vendors to see if they have been affected. You will want to know whether orders will need to be delayed or canceled under these circumstances.
Reconsider Your Go-to-Market Strategies
Your customers are likely spending a lot of their time online. That’s where you should be directing your marketing. With social media, post early and post often. The more you post, the wider the audience you will reach. Consider social media advertising, which can put your brand in front of new audiences instantly. Find local community groups on social platforms and join them to help get the word out about your business. It is important to both communicate and listen to customers on these platforms. When faced with disaster, it’s important to recognize that your customers’ needs evolve very quickly. For this reason, you must adjust your message to accommodate, and ensure that you are delivering that message through the most effective channels. Every restaurant should know their customers, and should be reaching out and communicating with them through a variety of methods.
It is beneficial for restaurants to have a loyalty program through which they can communicate with customers. These are easy to implement with the right technology, and can provide valuable customer data that you can use to engage customers. With Star Micronics PromoPRNT, promotion printing technology, restaurants can reward their loyal customers by printing coupons or promotions to be attached to their take-out or delivery orders that can be used for their next order.
Email marketing is also an effective way to boost your marketing efforts. If you are offering any new promotions that can address customer needs or save on packaging costs like family-style orders, leverage drip campaigns to your customer database. Implement a monthly newsletter or some other form of communication campaign to engage your loyal customers and keep your business top of mind. You can also do this to get the word out about online ordering, adjusted menu items, or changes in your hours of operation.
Focus on Existing Revenue Centers: Online Ordering, Pickup, and Delivery
Continuing to operate in some form or another could be your saving grace. You may be able to run your operation as a ghost kitchen, allowing customers to place orders through your website, mobile app, phone, or third-party service.
Every restaurant needs to exist online. Online and mobile ordering has become a necessity. Utilize your website as a tool to communicate with and engage your customers. Many sites are static and do not encourage customers to continue coming back. Dynamic websites allow chefs and owners to make changes and update menus daily or weekly, keeping customers engaged with new recipes, offers, and specials.
With solutions like Star Micronics CloudPRNT, you can get online ordering capabilities set up quickly and efficiently if you don’t already have them. This frees you up to redirect more of your efforts on pickup, to-go, and delivery. Reallocate some of your front-of-house staff to courier and delivery operations. For pickup, you can offer in-store, drive through, or curbside depending on your needs and capabilities.
Integrating online payments into your website can facilitate contactless pickup or delivery in the event of a viral pandemic. For contactless payments curbside, mobile receipt printers can be used to print receipts while tablets can be used to carry out transactions. You can also set up tools that text or call customers when orders are ready so they can run in and out to pick up orders without the need for face-to-face transactions.
Adapt to Overcome
When faced with disaster and uncertainty, you must do what you can to remain in business. That requires you to develop the agility and flexibility to adapt to new circumstances that arise and overcome the challenges that you face.
With any disaster, prepare for consumer preferences and expectations to change. It’s important that you align your technology to help you evolve alongside these changes. Star Micronics offers easy, intuitive solutions like CloudPRNT to help you incorporate online ordering quickly into your operations. For more information on how you can adapt to meet current events, contact the experts at Star Micronics today.