A Dose of Positivity During the Pandemic
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who isn’t ready to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind them, particularly restaurant owners and operators whose businesses have been impacted. And while there are glimmers of hope that the worst is over, many of the adjustments to the dining experience that were made out of necessity have actually improved the dining experience and should remain a part of your operations going forward. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Industry report, around 25 percent of fast-casual and quick-service restaurants say they plan to keep their COVID measures in place going forward.
Here are a few systems and processes that are here to stay:
Contactless ordering and delivery
Beyond the added safety of contactless ordering and delivery, many people simply prefer the convenience. They’ve gotten accustomed to enjoying their favorite meals in the comfort of their own homes, and have no intention of giving that up. You probably put together a pick-up or delivery system at the outset of the pandemic in Spring 2020, but is it as efficient as it could be? Invest in technologies that streamline incoming orders and provide an at-a-glance view of all active, upcoming, and completed orders, separated by delivery and to-go. Take a second look at your process and smooth out any pain points.
The QR code is the comeback story of the year. While there is something to be said for the pleasure of perusing a beautiful, physical menu, there’s no denying that giving guests the ability to access a digital menu from a QR code at their table has a slew of benefits. Online menus eliminate waste and printing costs, are easier to update, and give hosts and servers one less thing to keep track of, all while reducing the risk of transmitting germs. If you haven’t yet implemented this option, now is the time to think it through and engage with technology partners who can make it happen. Another option is to use a QR code to link to your reservation system, which allows customers to get on the waitlist without setting foot inside and keeps them updated on wait times.
The increased importance of social media
You do have a social media presence, right? Nothing new there, but the pandemic brought a new need to communicate with customers beyond posting pics of mouthwatering dishes or Happy Hour specials. Hours of operation may vary more due to staffing shortages, or safety measures such as limited capacities and mask policies can be more quickly updated on a social media feed than on a website. Establish a regular posting cadence (long periods of inactivity mean fewer eyes on your next post) and vary the content among product pictures and specials, and informational posts. And don’t forget to check your DMs and reply to comments to continue to engage with your audience.
We’re all experiencing a bit of “pandemic fatigue”, but the good news is these past couple of years have caused a domino effect of innovation and change in strategy within the restaurant industry. These changes have inspired actions that will remain a part of business strategies in restaurants to weather any future “unprecedented times”.
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About the Author
As Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Ashley manages the teams in both North America and EMEA, helping to expand the company’s global presence. He is a passionate advocate of improving guest experience within the hospitality sector and his team’s consultative approach to business has enabled QSR to remain at the forefront of technology innovation. When he isn’t working, you can find Ashley training for cycling events in both USA and Europe, spending time with his family, walking his dog Jax and supporting Manchester United Football Club.