How Restaurants Can Pivot & Thrive During a Time of Uncertainty

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager looking for guidance on how you can continue to generate revenue and repeat business during the shutdown, then I'll outline strategies you can implement right now so you can increase sales.

YOU MUST PIVOT: It comes as no surprise you’ve been forced to change the way you do business during this time of uncertainty. The biggest challenge restaurants are facing is how they will adapt to a ‘new way of selling’. The concern is how customers will buy from you, as you can no longer generate in-store foot traffic.

Restaurants are rushing to social media, hoping the posts they are making will make up for the lack of foot traffic. However, you’ve probably realized there has to be more effective strategies to utilize marketing channels to generate business.

In this brief read, I’ll provide strategies on how you can:

  • Increase your To-Go/curbside/pick up orders
  • Generate more delivery orders
  • Drive more online in-house orders

LOCAL VS CORPORATE & FRANCHISE RESTAURANTS

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve talked with a lot of local restaurant owners, and many realized they were not fully prepared to transition to a new way of selling, because they neglected key marketing channels that corporate and franchise chains have implemented for years.

The most neglected marketing channel local businesses failed to cultivate is a ‘customer database’- a list of customers info such as email, name, mobile phone number

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION: you’ll notice the major chains are leveraging customer lists that they’ve built, and are communicating their new buying options via text message and email. It’s important you actively build a list of your customers because it serves as an asset to communicate your delivery/takeout/curbside pickup, online ordering, etc. I’ll provide deeper insight on how to build this, but let’s touch on ‘right now solutions’

WHAT STRATEGIES CAN YOU DO RIGHT NOW?

Add no-commission online ordering

1-ONLINE ORDERING: the very first thing you should do is set up an in-house food ordering system that will allow your customers to order directly from your website. It’s important you find a zero-commission service, so you can eliminate fees and keep more profit. Online ordering will only increase. According to Statista, 34% of consumers spend at least $50 per order when ordering food online. Digital ordering and delivery has also grown 300% faster than dine-in traffic since 2014.

 

2-GET ON THE POPULAR DELIVERY SERVICES: Add your restaurant to Grubhub, Doordash, & Ubereats. The benefits of these services is brand name and familiarity. Simply adding your restaurant to these platforms will help you generate more orders. The negatives of these ordering platforms is the high fees they charge. It can be as high as 30% they take. You may be wondering, why would I suggest this? The best way to leverage delivery services is to build a ‘customer list’ from your deliveries. Meaning, you want to add coupons in the delivery bags that can only be redeemed by joining your restaurant vip club via email or text message.

 

Add ordering to all platforms

3-UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS EVERYWHERE: now that you have an in-house food ordering system, and you’re on the popular delivery services, it’s now time to update your business in all the places people can find you, by adding your online ordering website, and links to the delivery services. You want to update Google my business, yelp, Trip advisor, and your Facebook page.

4-ADVERTISE YOUR RESTAURANT ON FACEBOOK™: it’s important you get the word out through social media advertising. There are two types of ads  you want to do immediately. You’ll want to advertise these ads locally in your community, and only show the ad within a 10 mile radius surrounding  your restaurant. At the moment Facebook™ advertising costs are extremely cheap, and you can get your business in front of 1000’s of people for less than $10/day. The types of ads you should consider:

  1. CLICK TO CALL ADS: these ads are designed to get your phone ringing, so you can generate more takeout & curbside pick up orders. This is an ad that shows only on a mobile device when people are scrolling Facebook™.
  2. PROMOTION ADS: these ads are designed to help you generate more sales through your online ordering platform. We typically structure systems that capture the customer information, so we can communicate with these customers ongoing via text message and email. They work really well!

 

5-CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION: access to customers is one of the most impactful strategies you can implement to drive repeat business almost immediately. Once your in-house ordering system is in place, and you’re building a list from new customers you’re generating from advertising, it’s now time to communicate with your customer list. We call this list a VIP club. You can now send marketing messages via text message and email to your customers. You can promote your delivery services, online ordering specials/discounts, etc. The reason your list is powerful is because it’s a direct, guaranteed way to reach your customers. Customers may not see your Facebook post, but they will NOT ignore your text message.