This article is part of our "Road to Recovery: Restaurant Reopening Tips" series, sharing information on topics surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic and food service, from the future of the industry to operational advice and more. Business regulations may vary by state and locality, please consult local government resources before making business decisions.
Many states across the United States have begun the process of re-opening their economies for business. For many restaurants, this means opening their doors at limited capacity so that diners can remain six feet or more from anyone else. Even once restrictions are completely lifted, it may be a while yet before some customers feel comfortable in a crowded dining room. This is far from optimal capacity for restaurants, and so delivery and takeout orders will remain a part of many peoples’ dining experiences for a while yet. Once the dining rooms have reopened though, how can you keep delivery orders stable until the dining room fills back up?
1. Offer delivery promotions to dine-in customers
You can offer delivery promotions to dine-in customers to incentivize them to repatronize your restaurant. This also reminds customers that there are faces behind who they’re supporting!
2. Have a plan for when the dining room is at capacity
If state regulations require that your dining room only be filled to a certain percentage of its normal capacity, you don’t want to be caught on the wrong side of the law. But even if your dining room is limited to half capacity or less, your kitchen can still run at full capacity. If your dining room is full, explain to customers the potential wait time and, if necessary, offer them carry-out food instead.
3. Enlist front-of-house (FOH) staff as delivery drivers
Rather than having FOH staff fight over who gets to cover the limited amount of tables that can be seated, enlist FOH staff as in-house delivery drivers if they have the ability to do so. This not only allows staff that may have otherwise been furloughed to have some income, but also ensures they can get tips through other means.
4. Communicate with third party app representatives
While third party delivery apps such as GrubHub and UberEats faced a number of criticisms during the COVID-19 pandemic, rising stock prices illustrate their influence in keeping restaurants afloat. It’s okay to get advice if you're still learning the ins and outs of these delivery apps.
Continue communicating with the sales representatives of these companies that represent your region to ensure that the demand for continued marketing activities such as push notifications and promotions is known!
5. Keep promoting pro-delivery social media movements
Movements like the #LeftoversChallenge and the #RallyforRestaurants hashtags on social media provide visibility to the struggles of maintaining a restaurant. Using your social media presence to keep up the awareness around these movements helps communicate to your customers that the restaurant industry is not out of the woods yet.
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