A Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Surviving Coronavirus

A Restaurant Owner's Guide to Surviving Coronavirus
Featured image credit: Vaivirga/iStockphoto.com

It is crisis time for restaurant owners, both in the United States and across the world. Diners are disappearing and revenues are shrinking faster than ice cream in June. In fact, the spread of Coronavirus was so quick that restaurants that had been running for decades shut down in a mere 72 hours. The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is backbreaking, to say the least!

Running a restaurant in cities such as New York and New Jersey is a precarious endeavor even on regular business days. The exorbitant rents, Carpaccio-thin profit margins, and cutthroat competition are just some of the many things a restaurant owner deals with every day. But, since the Coronavirus outbreak, they have also faced a reality scarier than the aftermath of 9/11. Days after the deadly September 11 attack, people already took to restaurants again to connect and console one another. But with Coronavirus, people are scared to step out and, worse still, no one knows when the virus will recede and business will return to normal, if at all. Also, most restaurant employees live paycheck to paycheck and losing any business could threaten their livelihoods!

So in addition to frequent sterilization of surfaces like tabletops, self-order kiosks, and door handles and washing your hands every few minutes, what steps can you take to stay in business and keep the money coming in? Below are our two cents.

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Use the Downtime to Sharpen Your Axe

Use this lockdown period to have your kitchen staff try new recipes. Do competitor analysis and update your business costs. Conduct training exercises, especially for future managers or senior chefs who can leverage this time to learn paperwork that often gets rushed during regular business days. If your employees are still onsite, undertake deep cleans of your place and complete those nagging maintenance tasks that have been pending for months.

Build Your Brand

Once the dust has settled and business crawls back to normal, a five-star reputation will help you attract diners more quickly. Also, it is said that character and reputation are defined during the toughest times. So, what brand messages are you sending out? How are you communicating with your employees and customers?

Ultimately, think about doing things that will help you in the long run and add value to your customers. Even if your customers can’t come to you right now, think about sharing some of your best recipes through a Facebook or Instagram Live video. This will send out positive messages and keep you connected to the outside world.

Regardless of the stress and frustration of dipping sales, remember that everyone is experiencing the same challenges.

Cut Costs

Without sales, every penny spent will hurt. So, look for ways to increase your cash flow. Though it is advisable to involve your accountant in this to make sure you leave no stones unturned, there are plenty of ways to get some temporary relief.

For instance, you can ask your landlord to move to a monthly plan instead of bi-monthly, discuss the possibility of extended credit with your suppliers, claim subsidies or benefits offered by the government, and consider pay cuts for the down period. Cutting salaries is not ideal, but your employees will appreciate a small paycheck rather than receiving no paycheck at all.

Start Food Delivery If You Haven’t Yet

In-store dining is not what the world needs right now. Instead, food delivery or takeaway could secure your employees’ jobs, while you serve as much of your city as possible. The idea here is to deliver fresh food as well as a memorable customer experience.

To ensure prompt food delivery, consider using a route planner. It will benefit your delivery service in two ways. First, the food will reach customers faster because the suggested route will be the shortest and fastest one. Second, you will be able to track your delivery staff through the GPS tracker built into your delivery route planner and can even update your customers about the ETA of their food orders.

Conclusion

Things will work out. It’s just a matter of time until people attend conferences and weddings again and office workers will soon rely on local cafes for their lunch sandwiches again. All in all, people will start going to restaurants and pubs. So, there will be opportunities galore. Just wait for the dust to settle and you’ll see each other on the other side.

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Whether you want to slash the time it takes you to plan routes for your drivers, increase the number of stops they can make, or keep your customers satisfied knowing that your drivers show up on time… Route4Me helps you achieve that!