Take A Deep Breath
The stress of the unknown is understandable, but we can’t let panic run our business. Let’s level-set on our situation. Our guests aren’t gone, they’re just held captive. Know they’re equally anxious to be back at our counters, booths, and bars to enjoy a fulfilling meal, a stiff drink, and some good company. But for now we must adjust to our realities and make the most of an inconvenient situation.
Seize Your Opportunity
Tough choices are lining up at the door where your profits once stood. Many will try and weather this storm by throwing good crew overboard or jump ship themselves, but we recommend another course of action. Winners will aggressively act and throw policy and procedure out the window to offer true solutions to their customers.
Be Where Your Guests Are
Any marketing budget earmarked for the quarter, or next quarter for that matter, should be moved to digital. Literally any digital. Social distancing is driving consumers to digital channels in droves and they’re looking to supplement solitude with online remedies. Let consumers know you’re open, how they can access your business, and what benefit they can expect from your brand. Any operational adjustment you make in this environment should be supported with a robust digital spend and every message should be differentiated to stand out among the glut of delivery/to-go messaging that is sure to come. Consumers are glued to phones for outbreak updates, for work updates, to escape the grocery store line… and that gives you an opportunity to be there for them in unique and exciting ways.
Think Local & Beyond Delivery
Creative solutions will win the day when operations are turned on their head:
- Offer takeout and carryout differentiators. Kids Eat Free, Free Fountain drinks, Free desserts. Anything to entice prospective guests
- Treat receipts and bounce backs should be in every to-go order bag for immediate reorder. Ex: Expires in 5 days
- Leverage your servers as delivery drivers, helping to offset costs with third party delivery providers
- Put that food truck to work. Implement a responsible social distancing cue and get serve those who can’t quarantine
- Sell home goods like fruits and veggies in branded To-Go packaging, saving your guests a trip to the grocery store. Great PR focused opportunity
- Put out a community focused “pay it forward” program and offer to supply a meal for a family in need
- Scale back your delivery menu to cut food costs and to make sure you are offering food that travels well
- Curbside should be implemented system-wide immediately. Tell customers when to expect their food, take the make and model of their car, and post an employee in the parking lot to intercept orders
- Roll out family meals. Tiered packages, party packs, and catering options could be a huge solve for a significant segment of your guests
- Carry Out Two Meals – When you pick up or call ahead lunch orders, the guest receives a dinner for free. All lunch orders between 11-2 receive a free entrée with meal purchase
- Employee Friends and Family Cards – Each employee gets 10 cards with %10 off discount code if you call ahead or pickup your order
- Gift cards should be a big push right now. Digital ecard programs allow for purchase without leaving the house. Up selling discount gift cards to all call ahead or carry out orders could help drive traffic for the weeks to come
If these tactics make you uncomfortable, remember that in this moment it’s essential to be nimble. A “why not” attitude will help eliminate normal policy and procedure limitations and encourage deployment of your assets in novel ways. Serving your communities now ensures they’ll be there for you for years beyond this speed bump. We can already see the light at the end of this tunnel. Make the best of this moment and be better positioned for success on the other side.