Being a restaurant owner or manager is currently one of the world’s most challenging jobs. A few months into the Coronavirus pandemic, most states imposed lockdowns and bans on sit-in dining were. As their customers stayed home, these establishments saw their revenues go into a steep decline.
Some states have eased dining restrictions, but the guidelines placed to minimize the disease’s spread mean fewer tables. Of course, fewer tables translate into lower earnings. In the midst of all this, restaurateurs still have to think about rising competition as more and more dinners turn to online ordering from third-party apps.
Is there a way for you to turn this tide? Yes, there is. Try out these ideas for exciting new promotional campaigns you can run to draw dinners back in.
- Offer an Outdoor Special
With customers still cautious about dining indoors despite the implementation of socially distant dining measures, you can take your restaurant out to them. Some restaurants have converted their parking space into additional outdoor seating under tents. Besides helping restaurants maximize available space while obeying social distancing protocols, outdoor dining will allow your customers to enjoy the summer sun. A Portland restaurant tripled their daily takings by introducing outdoor seating.
You can drum up interest in your outdoor seating with some outdoor signage or by having an usher to guide patrons there. You can also upload some enticing pics of your tented seating onto your social media handles to spread the word. Make these pictures all the more captivating by draping your furniture with eye-catching tableware or printing on your tents.
- Heat-and-Eat or Meal Kits
Instead of focusing on getting customers through your door, take the dining experience right into their homes. You can do conventional takeout if you have items on your menu that travel well. If you don’t, you can either rejig your menu or package your meals innovatively.
Consider borrowing a leaf from restaurants that offer the heat-and-eat option when delivering meals that become soggy or lose their appeal when packaged hot. Such meals are pre-cooked and then frozen before being stacked onto delivery vans. All your customer has to do to enjoy your offerings’ unique taste is pop the package in the oven for a few minutes.
Meal kits can be sent to those customers confident enough to recreate a dining experience in your restaurant in their homes from scratch. In this DIY takeout model, you deliver the ingredients and instructions on recreating their favorite dish. It is a fun way for families or couples to spend time as they try to rediscover the taste that they know and love away from your premises.
- Rewards Program
It is always satisfying to see one’s loyalty rewarded, and you can generate this feeling of satisfaction among your dinners without hassle if you have the right restaurant POS system. A rewards program will make your customers feel appreciated, ensuring that they always choose your restaurant over the competition. When you make your customers feel special, they’ll be sure to tell their friends about you or take them out at yours. Signing up your customers for rewards programs also allows you to collect precious data on them that you can use to make their dining experience even more personal.
- Host a Charity Event
Holding an event that brings many people together amid the coronavirus pandemic may seem implausible, but it can be done. Provided you follow the guidelines put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has categorized meetings according to the level of risk they present to facilitate the spread of Covid-19. However, the exact numbers allowed to congregate are determined at the state level.
Hosting a charity event, particularly one that benefits people who have been adversely affected by the pandemic, bodes well for the image of your restaurant. It shows that you’re not just after folks’ money; that you care about their well-being. In addition to this, it will make your eatery begin to feel like part of the community’s fabric. When people want to be associated with what you stand for, you can bet they’ll also want to be seen dining at your tables.
While the coronavirus may negatively affect your operations and cost you revenue, it has come with a window of opportunity. If you’re willing to re-strategize and expand instead of recoiling, you could be in for an unexpected windfall. Experiment with these promotional ideas and watch adversity turn into profitability.