Normal seems a long way off, at the moment.
For all of us dedicated, hard-working people in the full-service restaurant industry, it’s difficult to envision anything even remotely resembling “normal” ever again.
And maybe that’s alright.
As we all adjust to seemingly constant disruption, challenge, and change, one thing remains certain: we will get out of this stronger than we were before. There will come a time when restaurants reopen, and people are going to have a lot of catching up to do.
So, how do we make sure we’re ready? Not just to handle the influx of people flooding back to restaurants, but how will we make ourselves ready for instilling confidence within our patrons—that we have planned contingencies for the future and that we’re well prepared?
How do we restore consumer confidence and reopen our full-service restaurants?
Studies show that restaurant brands that continue to stay top of mind with people, even during periods of shutdowns, tend to rebound faster when restrictions are lifted.
While people may have reservations about booking a table right now, the promise of patio dining, getting out of the house, and not having to cook at-home meals still offers hope.
It’s time to lean into the desires of your customers with online marketing, providing them with the answers they need to make educated decisions about who they order from, and where they are willing to dine.
Online engagements also help full-service restaurants to understand the requirements of their audience through social media engagements.
Andie.work surveyed 1,000 Canadians and determined that 21.7% of the nation feels safer on patios. Data also shows that men are more concerned with exposure to other patrons (58.3%) than women (41.7%), whereas women have more fear around lineups.
With this knowledge, full-service restaurants should tailor their online presence to speak more directly to audiences about patio dining and provide line-up solutions, meeting the needs of patrons across the board.
Brands that have an active social media presence and have made a concerted effort to “stick by” their patrons, answering questions before they’re even asked, will have a smoother take-off as things open back up.
It may take a while for patrons to shift from cooking at home to dining out, at least to the extent that they did before to the pandemic.
It’s our job to prove we are deserving of their trust and business.
To boost confidence in service and the food you make, keep a firm handle on the effectiveness of your delivery business.
Even though some patrons may still feel more comfortable staying home and ordering, their experience should not be diminished in regards to the quality of food they receive when they choose to dine at home.
Ensure your brand remains favourable in the minds of your customers by having the proper staff and infrastructure in place to accommodate potentially heavier delivery demand from patrons when things shift again post-crisis.
Financially, a redesign of your restaurant is likely the last thing on your mind during a shutdown. However, in some cases, renovations and new layouts are mandatory to meet new regulations for social distancing.
Forward-thinking FSR’s that have used this opportunity to rethink the layout of their restaurant and gather suggestions from patrons about desired features will have a leg up on their competitors.
Not only will optimized socially-distanced dining layouts have ensured you adhere to safety protocols, but they will also make your customers feel safe and heard.
Displaying your adherence to revised safety measures is required by Health Canada, but it also will set a patron’s minds at ease.
One Canadian survey determined that ‘touchpoints’ concern people the most while dining out.
These touchpoints include exposure to other patrons (32.2%), bathrooms (22%), lineups (12.6%), exposure to wait staff, the food itself (10.4%), and utensils (9.3%).
It is expected that full-service restaurants that are more transparent about all of the health and safety measures they are following to keep people safe will rebound more quickly.
“…restaurants that plan ahead to adapt and refine their restaurant model for the “next normal” will be better positioned to bring sales back to pre-crisis levels.” – Stacey Haas, Eric Kuehl, John R. Moran, and Kumar Venkataraman, McKinsey & Company
Transparent communication checklist:
Take RECIPE’s Social Safely Plan as an example.
With strategic foresight and thoughtful planning, equip your restaurant to survive and thrive during, and following the pandemic.
With recovery and consumer confidence in mind, stay engaged with your patrons, offer safe food pick-up and delivery options, consider a socially-distanced layout of your restaurant, and get transparent about safety protocols.
We will get through this and dine together again soon.
Despite the massive challenges that the restaurant community is currently facing, the Recipe Franchising Team would like to extend our message of reassurance. Having been in business for over 137 years, we are confident we can get through this challenging time just like many others in the past. We take pride and ownership in the well being, health and safety of our franchisees, associates and customers. Recipe Franchising is looking towards the future with hope and continuous growth. With the challenges at hand, The Recipe Franchising Team has adopted a new process that we like to call "Frictionless Franchising", a way for you to meet, research, investigate and explore new franchising opportunities with us from the comfort of your home. We want to make sure that we are always here to answer your questions, inquiries, and help anyway we can. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
Stay healthy and stay safe.
The Recipe Franchising Team