20 Oct

We all have been talking about how impacted the hospitality industry has been and will continue to be due to the pandemic and the measures the governments were forced to take to overcome the virus.

What we need to do now, as restaurant owners, is to start looking into the future and to start getting acquainted with what we need to do to adapt, reset and get the most out of the next few months, due to all the challenges that we are going to be facing in the short and long term.

One of the main challenges is facing the past and current unpaid bills. According to the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association during these times and since the introduction of online platforms the average profit margin of businesses has reduced from 10% to 2-4%.

Some of us were lucky to have been able to negotiate a rent relief period from our landlord, as well as being eligible for government grants and benefits. This has helped us stay afloat the past few months, but the reality is that even with the payment plans or the rent reduction our debts continue to grow, our fixed costs need to be paid and they all will keep adding up.

Therefore, we need to keep an eye on our costs; menu pricing, and how we manage our assets can make a difference.

There are different strategies restaurants can implement based on their business model.

Mandatory bookings

Organising your bookings can make a big difference, on one side you can guarantee to have customers during every single time slot but at the same time, you can organise it so not everyone arrives at the same time and make the most out of off-peak hours.

Specifying seating times is one of the best ways of guaranteeing the rotation you need to have so you can get as many customers as possible. Allow time for the wait staff to properly sanitise the tables and space.

If your restaurant doesn’t take bookings, an organised waiting list system can make a difference, so you can guarantee not having too many people gathering together waiting for a table which can increase the risk.

Menu structure

Customers will understand if you change your menu during the first few weeks after opening. Minimising wages and the number of staff can make a difference, so reducing the menu, establishing set menus, or having a minimum spend per person can help you with your costs.

Structure your menu so you can be as efficient as possible as well as guaranteeing that your customers have the best experience in the time slot they have.

Comfort and trust are the new black

Another main challenge that public venues will be facing and that is completely new in terms of aspects to take into account and learn how to do, is the fact that we need to build trust and regain customer confidence.

We need to implement strict hygiene and sanitary practices to guarantee the safety of our patrons and staff as well as to give the right message of trust so our customers can have a great experience just like in the old times while feeling confident enough to come back.

Putting into place sanitary procedures is one way of covering this aspect, so the staff know exactly what to do, guiding the customer, and showing confidence in the way everything is handled. Remember, that your staff safety is key, so prioritising your procedures taking this into account can be a good start.

Implementing several visible sanitising stations, staff wearing masks, implementing clear social distancing, limiting the number of customers served, more rigorous and frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces in common areas, and employee training of health and safety protocols are the most important safety precautions customers expect from a restaurant (Gursoy et al., 2020)

The new era of contactless dining - How Loop can help

Practices like having digital menus and contactless payment is a good practice to implement, so the staff can still interact with the customer, but reducing the actual contact between them and the patrons. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 64.71% of restaurant customers believe that the use of various technologies in service delivery will be necessary for the COVID-19 environment.

Getting on board with technology such as the Loop app can make your life easier and can help you get the most out of this new era:

Check-in

With the Loop app, as soon as your customers download the app and place their first order, you already have all your customers' data. This feature can be used to comply with Government regulations easily.

Virtual menu

You have all your menu items and specials in the app, and customers can order individually (avoiding split bills) or in groups without needing to give them any physical menus. This will save you time and will discard the need to clean menus constantly.

Contactless payments

Your customers will have the option of paying through the app or over the counter. Remember, Loop doesn’t charge a commission for every transaction, so for you, it won’t make a difference if they pay in-store or through the app.

Increase your customer experience

As soon as your customers use the Loop app, they will be part of your reward program. They will start getting points based on the automated goals that you have established; this will enhance their experience, encourage them to come back and it will give you a direct way to contact your customers any time in the future.

We need to make the most out of these next months, we need to think ahead and we need to start looking into the future. Luckily, we are not alone, and we have the tools that can help us overcome these difficult times.

Marcela Rodriguez
Loop

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