Restaurant Strategies That Will Help You Adapt to Changing Consumer Preferences Amid COVID-19

restaurant owners or managers in masks determining restaurant strategies during COVID-19

As time goes on, more and more industries are recognizing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant industry was one of the first and hardest-hit by social distancing measures. While it was necessary that people stay home, the continued effects of social distancing are turning the industry on its head.

Even as restrictions begin to lift, consumers remain concerned about health and sanitization, and economic troubles are putting strain on disposable income, which means they are being more careful than ever with their choices.

Although this presents new issues for restaurants now that dine-in traffic is either not an option or not as preferable, they can adapt to survive the pandemic and emerge strong once it’s over by implementing smart restaurant strategies.

Closely Monitor Profitability

Optimizing profitability is absolutely crucial during this time. There are several ways restaurants can achieve this. It’s necessary to cut back on expenses as much as possible so that you aren’t throwing money away.

Take a look at your inventory and labor expenses. These are two of the highest costs for restaurant owners, so it’s important to consider how you can optimize these areas and reduce your spending in the short term.

You may need to reallocate labor and adjust your scheduling based on current demand. You will likely need to reduce hours for employees, and reallocate your front-of-house labor to different areas. You may also want to pair down your menu to the most popular items, and try to stretch your inventory further by offering items that use many similar ingredients. That way, you can cut back on ingredients that are only used for one or two items on the menu.

Expand Fulfillment Options

Though many consumers remain wary of dine-in options even after restrictions are lifted, you’re likely to see a surge in online orders for delivery and pickup, which means you’ll need to devote more time and resources to these operations over others.

If you don’t have the resources internally, consider leveraging third-party services such as Door Dash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, and more. This has the added benefit of expanding your reach, since your restaurant will appear on the third-party service’s app, and can reach more than just your current customer base. This also allows you to use their delivery staff and resources, so you won’t have to invest in your own.

Restaurant owners can also take this opportunity to come up with some additional restaurant strategies. Offer new services based on consumer needs, such as drive-thru and curbside pickup, meal kits that can be assembled at home, family-sized portions, and more. This way, you can still reach customers and continue sales while still following guidelines and continuing to focus on safety as a top priority.

Focus on Customer Relationships

It’s important to continue fostering strong customer relationships during this time of uncertainty. Let your customers know about any updates and adjustments to your hours, menu offerings, promotions, and more.

You can leverage your customer loyalty system to send emails to your database and keep loyal customers updated on what’s happening with your business. It’s also a good idea to post this information to social media, and keep your website up to date so that customers that aren’t a part of your loyalty program can still get this information. With less dine-in traffic, continued communication is key to staying top of mind no matter the circumstances.

Leverage Technology to Future-Proof Your Restaurant

In order to get through this difficult time and minimize the impact on your bottom line, it’s important that you have the right tools at your disposal. Your point of sale (POS) software is the backbone of your restaurant technology, and it contains a lot of valuable information and resources that can assist you with your restaurant strategy during the pandemic and beyond.

The ideal restaurant POS for your business is one that is designed specifically for your industry. It should be able to generate valuable reports, such as sales figures, inventory and labor costs, highest/lowest selling items, employee scheduling and management, and customer data.

Restaurant owners will need technology that is flexible to handle the fluctuating needs of the current situation, as well as future industry changes. This pandemic is sure to shape the nature of the restaurant industry for years to come, so it’s important that your POS can accommodate these changes.

You also want to ensure your POS is scalable enough to keep pace with your business and the evolving industry as you grow. You want to be ready for when life returns back to normal, and have all the capabilities you need in order to handle the rush of dine-in traffic once it resumes.

Lastly, it’s important that your provider offers 24/7 support for peace of mind. They should be a reliable and valuable resource you can turn to for industry insight, guidance, and assistance with your technology needs.

The team at Paradise POS is experienced and adept at understanding industry shifts and identifying solutions that can help you stay profitable and competitive, even during the most trying times. For more information on restaurant strategies, software, and services to help your business, contact the team at Paradise POS today.