Businesses in the food and beverage (F&B) industry are among the most affected amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With people following stay-at-home policies to curb the spread, restaurants and cafes had no choice but to close down.
But as the world sees progress in the fight against the virus, some businesses — including restaurants and cafes — have started to prepare for life beyond the pandemic.
Take inspiration from these examples and learn how your own restaurant can bounce back.
Survival Strategies for the F&B Industry Beyond COVID-19
Consider delivery or pickup services
If your customers can’t come to your store now, why not bring your products to them?
That’s what Jacqui Tombas, owner of Miss Bliss Café, did for her business.
As she shared in a SmartCompany feature, she shifted her business model and focused on delivering meals to customers.
Tombas prepared and packaged the meals herself late at night and early in the morning. After which, she made delivery rounds on areas where most of her customers come from.
“I know we have a load of customers in Newstead, Carindale and Carina, so I made sure they were in my delivery zones,” Tombas told SmartCompany.
With this strategy, she was able to maximise her time, save more, and earn much-needed revenue.
Assess what needs changing in your menu
Another way to help your restaurant bounce back is by making changes in your menu.
This might not be easy, but for Mark Jenson — owner of the award-winning Red Lantern restaurant — it was necessary.
With fewer resources, Jenson, like all other restaurants, relied on delivery and takeaway orders. But first, he had to assess. After all, he knew that placing the usual restaurant price point of $25 on his deliveries would not work in his new business model.
He had to change his menu and ended up with five new $15 boxed meals. To achieve this, Jenson decided to replace his premium protein cuts with cheaper ones.
Making this kind of adjustment is never easy. But with the situation we‘re in right now, it’s the most sensible one.
Deliver pre-packed food or ingredients
Instead of having a delivery service handle your orders, create an ecommerce website and have people order directly from you.
Delivery services usually take up huge commission fees, an experience Paul Kasteel went through.
“We did about $900 in sales in our first pivot week. After taking out our cost of goods and GST we are left with $476. Uber and Deliveroo then come along and hit us for another 30% which leaves us with about $230,” Kasteel said in an interview with Business Insider Australia.
It’s different when you have your own website.
Not only will you save enough to hire your own delivery personnel, but you also have more control with your delivery process
Offer cooking classes
Aside from delivering your meals, your restaurant can also host online cooking classes. This will help you earn and stay connected with your customers.
With an online class, you get to decide on the content of your videos, posting schedule, and price. For example, one of your chefs can teach and show your customers how to improve the taste of a roasted lamb.
You can even choose to expand your online classes by adding baking and bartending to the mix!
Market for future events
Although there isn’t a specific date when this crisis would end, you still can give people something to look forward to.
Inform your customers you’ll accept advance bookings as early as one year ahead. This booking can be on important holidays, gatherings, or even birthdays.
Pushing and holding events as much as a year can result in more bookings — strengthening your brand awareness on the community level.
Get involved with the community
If there is one thing this pandemic has brought, it’s support — something Wendy Reynolds experienced.
Wendy is the owner of Wasshoi and Capricho Grill in Sunshine West. In the same interview with SmartCompany, Wendy stated that her community helped her gained more orders.
“We’ve been engaging local community groups. We’ve been very lucky we have some very strong community groups in Sunshine West,” Reynolds said.
Her community helped her spread her restaurant’s popularity by sharing her posts.
“People are very community-minded, especially around their own suburbs,” she emphasised.
Not long ago, Wendy tried to see the effectiveness of paid aids. However, she didn’t get the results she wanted and knew investing on ads would hurt her budget.
So, she chose to ask for support from people. So should you.
As long as your restaurant provides clear instructions on delivery and takeaway options, your business will thrive.
We‘re not sure when we’ll get to experience having a packed restaurant, shop, or cafe again. But despite COVID-19 giving so much uncertainty, it has also pushed us to be creative.
That creativity allowed the people in the F&B industry to survive this crisis. Apply their success stories into your restaurant or better yet — come up with your own idea.
If it’s difficult to think of an idea now, take your time. After all, creativity according to Mary Lou Cook is “…inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”