The Covid-19 pandemic has foisted a “new normal” on all of us, and businesses are not left out with many of them trying to adjust to the new way of living. This is even more important for restaurants as you have to “keep the fire burning” and try to maintain the connection with your clientele now and as you plan to reopen your business.

Currently, communicating with your clientele should be a blend of what you can offer them and how you plan to keep them safe. Especially as they are as eager as you to get the restaurant back on track; they’ve missed the meals and you’ve missed serving them.

However, the fact that your customers can’t dine in with you, does not mean they have to completely miss out on your meals. If you have delivery or take-out options, this is the best time to let your customers know. As businesses start to open up, dine in services at restaurants will be at a decreased capacity. This is because a lot more people will be doing take-outs.  And this is what your business will be depending on, at least for the short term. 

Finding various ways to engage with your customers will help ensure that they’re always thinking about your brand in addition to getting them pumped up for your restaurant’s re-opening. 

In designing and implementing a digital response strategy for your restaurant, here are some tricks you might need to have at your fingertips.

Website Content Strategy: Promoting Online Conversions and Special Offers

For the next couple of weeks and months, restaurants will have to focus more on creating awareness around their hygiene and social distancing measures. People have to be 100% convinced about the safety of your restaurant before they can think about patronising you.

Take-Out Orders

Restaurants need to accept take-outs as an important part of their service and as something they would have to embrace and be comfortable with as fast as possible. You can start by updating your website so that customers can call for pick-ups or deliveries. Ensure the directions on your site are visible, simple, and straightforward.

Social distancing restrictions and customer hesitancy due to safety issues around dining out have made it absolutely necessary for restaurants to adopt take-out orders as a way of keeping the business going until it is safe to fully reopen.

Your customers will understand why your menu has changed but they will not condone an order that takes too long to prepare and deliver. Even though the presentation is not all that important for take-out items, it is still an important contributing factor to the dining experience. You also need to think about the right type of packaging for your menu items and how to transport them, as well as which menus items travel well. 

Trim down your menu to have only those select offerings that are your most popular and most reliable in terms of preparation costs and margins. This will help you streamline your take-out operation, especially if you’ve never been down this line before.

Gift Card Incentives

Gift cards allow you to instantly increase your revenue as you capture the sale ahead of time irrespective of if/when the gift card is redeemed. It also engenders a common spirit within the community to support local businesses. Gift cards can also serve as a gift at birthdays and anniversaries. You can go one further by incentivizing gift card purchases through the offer of add-ons anytime a gift card is purchased. For instance, spend $50 on gift cards and a cocktail or appetizer free.

Grocery Orders

Selling grocery items, such as meats, bread, and dairy products to customers another great way of generating income and helping your community. You can do this with delivery or kerbside pickup to limit contact.

Make Use of Communication Channels

With a combination of your website and social media platforms, you can keep in constant touch with your customers. Also,ensure that your Google My Business page has the correct information with regards to your opening hours and contact details.

Be sure to update your menu to the latest version on all of the websites where it is featured. Also, for centralised systems like Yext and SinglePlatform, make sure the version they have is up to date.

Health and Safety Information

Inform your customers about all you’re doing to ensure their safety, such as sanitation measures and proper spacing between diners, and so on. To can disseminate this information through social media posts, website pop-up messages and updates, landing pages, and inserts to include in take-out orders.

Precautionary Procedures

Make sure your customers have up-to-date information about all the measures you’ve taken to adjust to the “new normal.” Let them know of any changes in standard offerings, bulk orders, and hours of operation.

Social Media Strategy

The lockdown has caused an increase in social media usage and engagement. What this means is that you can leverage on yourrestaurant’s social media channels to pass on information to your current customers and entice new ones. However, you shouldn’t be working with the same old information. Here’s what you need to know as you ramp up your social media marketing efforts:

Paid Advertisements

Right now, people have more screen time and can engage better. So, running paid ads alongside your organic posts and content will ensure that you expand your reach and increase your marketing funnels. Use ads to promote take-outs, specials, and delivery options.

Video Spotlights

Host live videos through which your team and the social audience can engage as if they were in your bar or restaurant. You can also engage your fans by having spotlight videos featuring members of your team either preparing food or mixing drinks and encouraging the audience to join-in competition-style with a small prize for the winner/winners.

Relevant Updates

Post updates regarding changes in availability. Inspire online orders through photos of your starters with links to your take-out menu.

Social Media Challenges

This is another way to engage your customers. All you have to do is come up with a fun challenge that brings your restaurant or bar to the spotlights and the lips of your customers. However, it is important that you don’t challenge any of the existing social distancing measures in place or you might risk a potentially-damaging backlash which won’t be good for your brand.

Being able to persuade anybody that your restaurant or bar is low-risk will involve constant messages about the steps taken by your business to operate safely. Positive user-generated content from customers who have come to dine with you will also go a long way. Check social media channels for regular updates and positive feedback about your business, re-purpose the content,and then use them on your website and social media channels.