Don’t settle for reactive, defensive measures to fight the slowdown. Now is a time to engage your loyal customers and find creative ways to bring them in when things return to normal.
#1 INVEST IN MARKETING
To keep traffic up during the coronavirus, put together special events, email outreach, and social media.
Promote food holidays
Even if diners end up going to restaurants less frequently, they might still come together for notable calendar events, such as national food days, graduations, summer vacations, work holidays, and so on.
This is why it’s essential to market your restaurant as a particularly sanitary environment. If you can convince guests that you’re offering a safe place, where better for families to meet? Get the RenewO2 air sanitizing systems for your restaurant and you'll also get a 'Safe Air' decal to display on your restaurant windows. Book a time to talk with one of our design consultants.
Social media campaigns
Use social media to stay top-of-mind for your followers. Make sure your most loyal customers know that you’re open, can see your clean air sanitization efforts, and are aware of events you’re planning.
Send your customers messages to update them on your restaurant’s status and promotions. The more personal the email – the better. It’s a great way to reach people stuck inside, and there’s a good chance they’ll appreciate the invitation to come out of their houses for a safe experience. Don't forget to remind them about your clean environment, including the air they will breathe.
#2 GET CREATIVE WITH PROMOTIONS
Given the constraints of a likely pared-down menu and slower foot traffic, here are a few ideas for driving people into your restaurant.
Mini Restaurant Week: Partner with a few nearby restaurants to create a weeklong prix fixe promotion at your locations. Don’t be afraid to make it fun – print up mock passports and offer a loyalty reward to people who get a stamp from each restaurant.
Work-from-home lunch specials: For the locals around your restaurant stuck getting cabin fever all day, turn your restaurant into a (thoroughly sanitized with safe air) cafe-style co-working space during lunch hours.
Bare-shelf cooking classes: With stores running short on groceries, people are tired of preparing the same old dishes. Launch a small-group cooking class with your chef to inspire some creative dishes based around canned staples, pasta, etc.
#3 TURN YOUR RESTAURANT INTO A COMMUNITY HUB
As businesses continue to discourage travel and more employees work from home, you’re going to be surrounded by a population of confined people going stir-crazy. People are still going to want to connect and help one another out, and they’ll need a venue to do that.
Market your restaurant as a safe place to gather. Reach out to your local customers and encourage them to come in for a lunch promotion.
#4 MAKE MARKETING HYPER-PERSONALIZED
Engaging your regulars is critical during the coronavirus. These are the people who probably already see themselves as part of your community. They are the diners whose preferences you know and who you can cater to better than anyone else.
Reach out to them with personal letters, emails, calls, texts, whatever you can. Let them know you’re open, that you’re safe, and that their business is welcomed now more than ever. If they come in, personalize service and cultivate an experience of abundance. It’ll be a welcome change from what’s going on outside your walls.
#5 IDENTIFY NEW WAYS TO GIVE BACK
Everyone is feeling the pain of financial instability during the pandemic. Even if their business is flourishing, there continues to be a lingering fear that everything could come crashing down. Help your restaurant stand apart from the competition by actively giving back to the community that loyally supports your business.
Free Food Pairing: Give free appetizers, sides, or drinks with the purchase of a particular menu item or meal. If your restaurant consistently has too much of a certain type of ingredient, package it up and give it away at checkout. Your customers will appreciate the little free add-on and in turn, will generously support your business.
Discounts for Essential Workers: Offer discounts to anyone that serves as an essential worker. Include this discount for up to 6 of their friends and watch your tables start to fill up. Chances are the discount you provide will more than pay for itself with increased customers.
Free PPE: Start handing out hand sanitizer, business-branded face masks, rolls of toilet paper, gloves, and other protective equipment. Don't forget to remind your customers that you're doing your part by providing them with the cleanest dining experience, especially when it comes to the air they're breathing.