COVID-19 will remain a reality as long as a vaccine or cure isn’t on the cards. But with most crises and pandemics that have come, gone, or stayed on, industries continue to progress by looking towards markets that have emerged out of lockdown. Even when your market has set a date for reopening, the lifting of restrictions will be done incrementally and in small steps, suggesting that dine-in services might take longer to fully recover.
What can restaurants do next? Here’s an excerpt from our white paper update that looks at finding opportunities in obstacles, and incorporating solutions that address regulations and restrictions.
1. Continue to brace your business for the long haul.
As restaurants scramble to take action based on the current crisis, it’s important to have a long-term plan in sight. Whether it’s re-engineering the menu, looking for revenue streams beyond takeaway and delivery, or budgeting costs, restaurants need to look at COVID-19 as something to co-exist with.
Even when dine-in services resume, you should be prepared for the eventuality that regulations may tighten again should there be a new wave of COVID-19 cases in the community.
2. Remain agile and turn obstacles into opportunity.
As restaurants continue to face bumps in the road, it’s also a chance to reconfigure operations. Chef Rishi Naleendra of Cloudstreet Kitchen and Cheek Bistro provides a fine example. While he was slated to open Kotuwa in April 2020, COVID-19 setbacks caused him to move its operations to an existing kitchen instead. Diners can now enjoy the chef’s Sri Lankan specialities such as Crab Cutlets, Wattakka Kalu Pol, and Chicken Kottu via Chope On Delivery.
3. Strengthen delivery and takeaway product to ensure longevity.
To stand out in a crowded space of delivery and takeaway, restaurants need to continue innovating their product. It isn’t enough to just replicate your dine-in menu. Instead, recreate delivery and takeaway as a unique experience by refining operations, menus, and messaging.
While we can expect pent-up demand once the dine-in suspension is lifted, some diners may continue to exercise caution when it comes to dining in. The restaurant landscape may also have also been changed forever since diners have formed new habits of ordering to-go. Takeaway and delivery will thus continue to be significant revenue streams for the foreseeable future.
4. Start strategising marketing and PR for dine-in.
Prepare to hit the ground running when dine-in services resume and brace yourself for pent-up demand. Chope’s reservation numbers for Hong Kong saw a strong comeback as safe distancing regulations were eased and normalcy started to resume.
Ensure your “welcome back” menus, promotions, and social assets are geared for demand.
5. Utilise solutions that support safe distancing, hygiene and contact tracing requirements.
Observing restaurants in markets out of lockdown such as Hong Kong and Thailand, two things are mandatory for the foreseeable future: Safe distancing measures, and contactless transactions.
Restaurants can tap into solutions such as ChopeSafe, a suite of products by Chope to equip restaurants to overcome these challenges when they re-open. ChopeBook helps restaurants manage diner CRM, contact trace more effectively, and optimise a table layout that accommodates the one-metre safe distancing rule.
6. Tap into third-party partners for exposure and support.
Check-in with partners and explore how they can support as you rebuild your business. Restaurants that are retailing produce, meal kits and subscriptions, deals and other promotions should consider partnering with ChopeDeals to tap into our large database of diners.
Work with loyal fans and advocates to create partnered content featuring your restaurant on their social media platforms. Pitch to lifestyle magazines who are currently hosting “live” cooking shows on Instagram, or influencers publishing ASMR or mukbang reviews.
7. Leverage events and special occasions.
Despite dining restrictions, special occasions have continued to bring a burst of revenue for restaurants. Reservation numbers for Valentine’s Day in Singapore this year exceeded Chope’s year on year trend for the period by 31%.
Similarly, Chope On Delivery’s orders in April and May in Singapore showed a spike in demand during long weekends and Mother’s Day. The numbers show for it — diners are still prepared to spend on these occassions. Create menu packages and drive demand by promoting them in advance on your social media platforms as well as community-led groups and forums. Restaurants that prepare well to meet the demand will reap strong returns.
8. Boost staff morale and strengthen relations.
While restaurateurs are trying their best to keep staff employed, such difficult decisions are inevitable under financial strain. Whether staff are on furlough, taking on more duties, accepting pay cuts or are asked to leave, ensure that you constantly communicate these changes and support them by offering assistance, advice, or connecting them with fellow F&B peers.
9. Adopt lessons learned from digital transformation.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the impact of COVID-19, restaurateurs also saw areas of growth. 44.3% of restaurants reported digital transformation as one of them, with staff going through upskilling.
Whether it’s to manage new third party delivery and logistic partners, moving inventory online or adopting new queue and table management systems, restaurants should see this as a positive and continue down this road of discovery.
Download our full white paper below. Access our COVID-19 Resource Centre for advisories, infographics and articles on navigating the restaurant industry.
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Chope is Asia’s premier dining platform on a mission to connect restaurants and diners through discovery, reservations, and deals. Having seated close to 24 million diners in 2019 alone, Chope understands what gets people excited about dining out, and how best to maximise business for our 5,000 restaurant partners.