Ways for your restaurant to adapt itself to customer expectations during the Covid-19 outbreak

Ways for your restaurant to adapt itself to customer expectations during the Covid-19 outbreak

Restaurants are the heart of many communities. It’s where couples typically go on a date, families celebrate Taco Tuesday, and teams gather for postgame grub. But as the world grapples with how to respond to COVID-19, both national chains and independently owned restaurants are quickly strategizing to discover new ways to serve their communities.

Proactively create an opening playbook

As we see signs of reopening, it's essential to translate these experiences into our new restaurant handbooks, that is, our playbooks for the future. It’s important to articulate the protocols and procedures that we can consult particularly in contingencies such as the Covid pandemic that’s disrupting the whole world now and even in less disruptive times than this. It is important to develop a stringent COVID-19 rulebook, dictating everything from table spacing to temperature checks. More than half of the procedures outlined in a restaurant’s rulebook should come from the government mandates. COVID-19 has upended everything as we know it, from the most granular industries to the economy at large. To truly prepare your restaurant, you have to give it a comprehensive look-over to determine how to prevent the virus from spreading. Some things to consider include:

  • What are your "high risk/high-touch" areas? - Think about the various surfaces that guests and staff, must touch throughout a regular day.
  • What are the x-factors (i.e., the factors you can't control) in your restaurant? And how can you “get ahead” of them?
  • Where do people typically prefer to enjoy their food the most?
  • What are the entrances to your restaurant?
  • What are the areas of your restaurant in which outside bacteria can get in?

Revamping the business offer.

A lot of restaurants keep offering their customers the same thing in the same way for years without questioning whether they’re still in touch with what’s hot and what’s not. If your menu’s looking a bit tired, or people aren’t choosing what’s on offer, it may be time for an overhaul, both in terms of content and design. Big chains hire executive chefs to devise new recipes but if you’re a small restaurant, you might not have this luxury. Other trends include a growing desire for spicy, smoky, and exotic world cuisines from South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Or you could plug into the buzz for healthy foods, or at least make sure your menu lists all dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, peanut-free, and dairy-free.

On a simple level, think about existing dishes that are popular, and those that aren’t. It may be better to have a shorter, simpler menu with a few key dishes that genuinely sell, plus a few seasonal specials.

Consider different food & service offerings 

A good restaurant business model contains a clear statement of the restaurant's unique value proposition. The value proposition is a statement of what it offers customers that is not available at other dining establishments in the area. While a unique value proposition is essential for any business, this is especially true for a restaurant that must compete on a daily basis to attract patrons over other restaurants. There are many potential options for a value proposition for a restaurant including menu choices, affordability, service, and atmosphere.

A basic part of any restaurant business model is the proposed menu. Menu choices may be the focus of a restaurant's value proposition if the restaurant intends to offer ethnic cuisine that is not available at any other restaurant in the area. In any event, a restaurant's menu has a significant impact on its ability to attract customers. The selection and pricing of menu items is an essential element in a restaurant's financial projections regarding anticipated costs, revenues, and profitability.

The target market is also an important part of the business model because it identifies a business's potential customers. A company can't be successful if it doesn't recognize the people to whom it will appeal. And this includes restaurants.

Many companies spend a lot of time studying and identifying their potential customer base. It's not enough for a restaurant to say they'll cater to everyone—they must be able to carve out for themselves a profitable segment based on key demographics like age, income, lifestyle, and other important factors that influence a customer’s dealings ( or say relationship) with a particular restaurant. Not doing so can cost the restaurant a lot of time and, more importantly, a lot of money.

Testing this market is very important before a restaurant is opened and before a new menu or service is offered on a grand scale. That's why many restaurant chains like McDonald's and Burger King test new offerings in a select area before rolling them out on a national scale. If the product proves to be successful, they consider it worthy enough to serve in other locations. If the test fails, the financial impact is very minimal, and the business can put the brakes on the launch.

August 26, 2021