As officials rush to get ahead of spreading coronavirus and mounting public alarm, restaurateurs are finding themselves on the wrong end of a worldwide lockdown.

As a restaurateur, your priority is obviously the safety of your team and your guests. But after ensuring a safe environment, you’ll need to get proactive — and creative — to stay afloat during the current period of lower dine-in business.

This article presents strategies and tips to help restaurants minimize the revenue impact of the coronavirus, and for driving new revenue where possible. We’ll cover the above-and-beyond precautions your restaurant needs to take to accept dine-in guests, how you can streamline your operation temporarily, and promotional initiatives you can take to drive revenue.

In these surreal times, remember that this situation is a chance for you to leverage and deepen your connections with customers and your team.



Shift marketing to local

In a tourist-filled industry and airlines cancelling most flights, you must quickly shift your planned marketing to local and at-home residents that will be able to support your business.  Use this opportunity to capture those local customers while getting fresh air around the neighborhood.  This will create loyalty and ensure you meet your customers  in the neighborhood, who may not usually be home during the day but still need food, and coffee.


Maintain marketing budgets

Most business will be thinking of cutting costs, but now is the time, if possible – to adjust and increase,  With less customers to capture, you need to flex your budget to the local neighborhood and shift your target customers as needed to cater your message to them.  This new audience can be your new long-term customers and become your regulars with a great experience and product from your business.

Create a sales and selling plan

As stated above, every customer counts during a crisis or economic downturn.  You must have your team members selling to each and every customer in a thoughtful, genuine way to maximize average spend per customer and increase sales.  Creating bundle offers can provide a great deal and can increase ticket.

Offer reservation re-booking with an offer
As customers cancel reservations, have your team ready with a great offer to re-book their reservation in the future once you re-open.   Some restaurants are offering free-dessert to book their same table in a month or so for that next special occasion.  This works well to keep them thinking of your team and once everything re-opens having them choose you and come back often.


Try to maintain your prices and specials
Value your products and menu well, and try your best to maintain your pricing if possible.  Also, offering the same specials that drew customers in during the closure, once you re-open will encourage them to return and keep your relationship with customers well.  Create a plan and start advertising re-opening specials and or deals that they may have missed, to come back once open to redeem those offers!


Reassure your guests
Use email connects and social media to highlight wherever you are going above and beyond to ensure guest safety.  Examples include nightly or weekly deep cleaning of kitchen, café, washrooms and restaurant areas (e.g. deep cleaning rooms or professional sanitization.)   Choose a local company to help clean can support them in this economic downturn.  It is also worth re-iterating that you’re following local Governmental guidelines and best practices to minimise risk.

Prepare for the bounce back
The restaurant and hospitality industry is resilient and you must be too.  Once the virus is eradicated you can be sure that everyone will want to get out and celebrate.  With travel being cancelled you must be ready for those local shoppers to choose you and spend time in your business.  Connection and great service is key, so having a plan to capitalize on re-opening will position your business to hit the ground running.

Preparation and planning are key during tough times.  Those businesses that adjust and are quick to communicate how their business can and will support their customers and teams during this challenging time will be the ones that can best survive.  Make health and safety and caring in a genuine way for your customer part of your brand and show it.  Do everything you can to make guests seek out your restaurant or café as a place of refuge, even if only offering take-out! 

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