Now is probably the toughest time in recent history to be a restaurant owner. The initial measures to curb the pandemic were already tough on restaurateurs, but the recent set of restrictions could deal the final blow to many businesses. If you’re struggling right now and can’t see how you’re going to make it, don’t despair. Some things could help you not only survive this pandemic but thrive through it. Here are a few of them.
Protect Your Employees and the Public
The most important thing you have to do is look after the health and wellbeing of your workers and the people they serve. This means enforcing every mandated measure and going a step further if you can. If you can have the entire place sanitized by a professional team a few times per week, then do so. Invest in plexiglass barriers for your cashiers and get n-95 face masks and shields for kitchen staff and waiters. You should also consider having everyone wear gloves and teach them to replace them often.
It would be wise to inform yourself of the recent rules regarding restaurants and omicron as well. Yelp has a great article on restaurants and omicron we suggest you check out. They explain the different regional measures that have been enacted to curb the spread of the variant and how they may affect your restaurant. They also have a few safety tips for businesses and recommend tools that could help you stay compliant.
Diversify Your Revenue Streams
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you need to look at how you could diversify your revenue. One of the ways you could do this would be to create a separate brand and operate it as a virtual restaurant. This is an especially good idea for restaurants that rely mainly on sit-down clients for business. Many of these restaurants tried to move to a delivery format during the pandemic, but this is not always the best move. This is because a large part of the sit-down experience is actually being in a restaurant. A great pasta dish is always nice, but the experience is much different when you’re eating it in a nice restaurant versus getting it in a Styrofoam box and eating it on your kitchen table.
This is where opening a virtual brand with a completely different menu could help. Try to make the menu short and simple if possible and only pick products that translate well to delivery. You will still be able to use your kitchen space and staff. You will have to teach them the new recipes and have a clear system to let them know which orders are for who.
Sell Derived Products
Another way that you could diversify your income during this pandemic would be to sell derived products. These products could be sold directly from your restaurant, online, or in local markets. If you have something you are well known for, then creating a product that is related to it could work. If people constantly compliment you for your pasta sauce, for instance, you could always bottle it and sell it. And, if you think that would be complicated, you should know that there are plenty of services that will prepare and package it for you. All you’ll need to do is give them your recipe and they’ll handle the rest.
Be More Creative with Marketing
You might also want to revise the way you market your business as we assume that your marketing budget is extremely tight at the moment. This is the perfect time to ramp up your online marketing efforts if this is something you’ve been neglecting or overlooking so far.
Start by building a stronger presence locally to increase brand mentions. You also need to work on building a content marketing strategy. The goal is to increase the number of incoming links to your site as it will increase your visibility on search engines. You should also make sure that your site is up to par and properly optimized before you start so that your efforts won’t be in vain.
Next, we suggest you start looking at things like geofencing. Geofencing allows you to set a virtual fence around your business and have text offers sent directly to people’s phones when they pass by. You can also set up geofences around specific areas around the city. You could target something like a sports arena parking lot, for instance, and send time-specific offers to people after a game. The possibilities here are endless and geofencing seems to be tailored-made for restaurants, so give it a closer look and see how you could use it.
These are all things you have to be prepared to do if you want to make it out of this pandemic in one piece. Be open to new ideas, diversify, and always remember to treat your long-time customers like gold.