Series: How To Pivot Your Restaurant After Coronavirus

Restaurant owners everywhere have had to get incredibly creative to respond to the Coronavirus crisis which has only accelerated certain trends. As restaurants are shifting away from the more traditional model operators must continue to be nimble and innovate. At Capital Rivers we understand the importance of the “Intelligent Restaurant” and have created some tips to help.

By Capital Rivers

Image: a restaurant employee wearing a mask as he takes an order. Learn how you can pivot your restaurant in the wake of Coronavirus.

In part one of our two-part podcast series designed to help restaurants pivot in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, our Director of Sales and Leasing and co-founder of Krush Burger International, Joe Blanton, sat down with Paul Somerhausen, founder and CEO of SactoMoFo. They shared advice born from years of experience and industry savvy design to help restaurants and food trucks adapt in the wake of COVID-19.

Here are five ways you can build off of what you learned in this episode to help your restaurant adapt and thrive. 

5 Ways To Pivot Your Restaurant After The Coronavirus Crisis

Krush Burger makes ordering online easy right from the home page of their site.

#1: It’s Time To Embrace Tech

If you haven’t already, it’s time to look to technology for new opportunities. Here are a few key things to do to help your business meet the needs of customers who expect to be able to do everything online:

  • Set up online ordering. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Square. They make setting up online ordering quick and easy. And online ordering isn’t just for brick and mortar restaurants – food trucks should offer it too!
  • Enhance curbside pickup. Can customers text or message you when they’re ready to pick up? Think about how you can use your online touchpoints to make curbside pickup a smoother, easier process. Check out new programs like SWIPEBY where your customers can order online and your restaurant knows exactly when the customer has arrived by using geofencing technology. 
  • Create a branded delivery experience. By thinking beyond DoorDash and Postmates to look at how you can create your own delivery system, you can create a system that extends your brand experience to the guest’s home. At a minimum, include a personal thank you note and share your “company culture” to enhance the delivery experience for your guests. 

By looking at these options you can take the lessons your business is learning from this crisis and carry them on to create a more tech-savvy, internet-friendly business moving forward.

Monk’s Cellar uses social media to highlight exciting daily specials.

#2: Get On Social Media

Social media is the best way, if not the only way, for regulars who love your food to keep in touch with you. We’re seeing restaurants that have nourished their social presence over the last couple of years have significantly more success than those that didn’t. Don’t be left behind.

A great way to get started is to use your social profiles to highlight regular specials. These specials catch people while they’re scrolling through social media and keep them ordering again and again. Also, take time to highlight your culture and what makes your restaurant special.

Bacon and Butter features an employee in a mask on their Instagram profile.

#3: Let People Know You’re Committed To Good Sanitation

You may have already noticed people asking more questions about sanitation and hygiene than ever before. Step up your sanitation program, and let people know about it to answer their questions before they’re even asked. 

The National Restaurant Association has a guide to sanitation and responding to the COVID-19 crisis that can get you started. When your process is updated, don’t be afraid to make a statement letting people know about your commitment, or update your social profiles to highlight team members properly outfitted in masks and other protective gear.

You should also implement curbside non-contact pick up as fast as possible, and food trucks can set up cones in line to help enforce social distancing. 

This helps to build trust with your guests. 

SactoMoFo works with local food trucks to donate meals to front line healthcare workers at UC Davis Medical Center.

#4: Give Back To Your Community

Especially in times of crisis, it’s important to come together and support each other, and that can reflect well on your brand too. People like to see restaurants give back during hard times. 

You might look into donating meals, partnering with a local non-profit, or contributing a certain percentage of sales.

#5: Make Some Menu Changes

Look at how to make your menu more efficient to focus on the options your customers love and try to look at recipes that use some combination of the same ingredients so you can reduce waste and buy select ingredients in bulk. 

On the other hand, offering new items strategically can help you bring in more orders. For example, family meals that feed four or more have a unique appeal to customers isolating at home with multiple people. 

Adapting to the current crisis and looking forward into the future is essential to your restaurant. You may even find yourself adapting and then re-adapting the following week. Once you get a better feel for the new normal, look at your next 6, 12, and 18 months. Looking at how you can prepare for the future ahead can help you position your restaurant to be as successful as possible.

Not sure what steps to take next? Reach out to Capital Rivers. We are here to help.

“They stay in contact with you and give you good ideas on how to pivot and offer opportunities to put you in front of customers. That’s something I didn’t expect; it wasn’t part of our contract when we signed it, it’s been a very pleasant bonus.”

– Paul Somerhausen, Capital Rivers Client