Even before the pandemic, many Texarkana restaurants had started to take on a more modern approach to business. With website builders offering incredible tools like a restaurant online ordering system and online reservations, the processes involved in running a restaurant had become more streamlined.
Then COVID-19 hit, and restaurants around the U.S. and the world had to adapt quickly in order to survive. Some thrived in the pandemic-hit world, some hung on by the tips of their fingertips, and many did not make it. While the world is getting back to normal, human behavior has changed. If you’re starting a restaurant (or want to optimize your restaurant for the new normal) what can we learn from the pandemic?
Here are some tips for how to use business principles for a successful restaurant post-COVID.
Build an online presence
Every business needs an online presence. This was true long before the pandemic. The smallest startups to the biggest corporations all needed to be accessible online, whether to find out information about them or to actually carry out transactions. However, brick-and-mortar stores were taking longer to catch onto this. Restaurants in particular did not see the need for an online presence.
Even during the lulls in the pandemic, having an online presence gave restaurants a huge advantage. After all, people were not about to go just anywhere to eat. They wanted to know about opening hours, hygiene protocols, and other crucial information. Restaurants that only had a Google Maps entry barely stood a chance.
An online presence is not hard to generate. For a start, you need a website. You can create a website with a website builder in a couple of hours. It does not have to be particularly complex. It simply needs to provide the information potential patrons need to know.
By creating social media accounts to go with it, you give patrons an easy way to get in touch. You can send out information through your social media accounts about specials, holiday opening hours, and new items on the menu. Many people treat the online world as more real than the physical world. If you’re not there, they will doubt whether you’re still open for business.
In the past, a restaurant’s service was all about how they treated customers. The customer’s interactions with the host, waiters, managers, and kitchen staff all shaped their experience. That had already started to change and the pandemic sped up the transition.
Today, customers want to be able to order in without speaking to a member of staff. They want to find out what is on the menu and what specials are available without visiting the restaurant. They want to be able to make reservations without phoning and speaking to someone on the other end of a noisy line.
It is therefore crucial that you have this functionality available. At the very least, you should be available on apps people use to order their food. It is best if you have a combination of this and your own systems to help customers get what they want.
Multiple income sources
Another thing the pandemic taught restaurant owners – as with many other industries – is that it is always helpful to have multiple income sources. Most restaurants pre-pandemic offered at most eat-in and order-in options. When the pandemic shut down the former, many restaurants simply could not survive.
Those that did best found alternative ways of making money. They started selling frozen meals or meal kits. They opened catering branches, which helped institutions struggling to cope with feeding residents. For some restaurants, eating in became the side hustle.
Now that it is possible to function as a normal restaurant again, many new restaurants are choosing to go the traditional route. While we may not face the same challenges in the future as we have from COVID-19, finding additional income streams is the most foolproof way of doing business.
Making money as a restaurant has never been easy. By pursuing multiple different opportunities, you give yourself the best chance of success, whether or not we face another pandemic-level event.
Become a business
Many restaurateurs do not think of their restaurants as businesses. They see them as a means of earning income while doing what they love. Considering your restaurant as a business does not mean you have to suddenly become entirely profit-focused.
Rather, it means you follow best business practices to create the most stable enterprise possible, reaching more patrons and providing a better service. In doing so, you earn more money and are able to run your restaurant with less uncertainty.
The pandemic has changed the restaurant industry forever. Take the above tips into your new endeavor, and you can benefit from the lessons we learned from COVID-19.