How to ensure your restaurant succeeds during Covid-19
With the current coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented changes in the restaurant industry, many businesses are finding it difficult to cope. As lockdowns across the world have prevented diners from eating in at restaurants, it is essential for restaurants time to diversify their business models.
It has become evident that restaurants need to open online sales channels and offer delivery services to customers to ensure that they can still satisfy their cravings and make sure your profits don’t dip. Taking the current pandemic into account, we are going to take a deep dive into the restaurant industry, highlighting some of the major problems you could face as well as how to fix them in order to ensure your restaurant thrives.
Why do most restaurants fail?
Unfortunately, failing restaurants are commonplace within the industry, but this doesn’t need to be the case for you. Before we look at how to fix failing restaurants, we must first identify why they fail. Below are some of the most common reasons why restaurants fail :
1. The People
As harsh as it sounds, the people that you include within your business could be the one of the reasons why your business is not prospering. Your servers and waiting staff are your customers’ first point of call so they are largely responsible for the first impression your customers get of your business. If your staff is rude, uninterested or not qualified, this can reflect poorly on your business. You want your staff to represent the values of your company, so put time into the training process to ensure they have a strong grasp of what is expected of them.
If you have unmotivated staff, you should also probably look at those further up the hierarchy of your business. If your managers have a similar attitude, or don’t have the people skills required to run a restaurant, this will have a domino effect on the rest of your staff. Make sure to invest time to carefully select your team and the people who will manage your restaurant. After all, a business is only as good as its employees.
2. The Food
Arguably the most important part of any restaurant is the food. If your food is delicious, customers might be able to look past all the other downfalls of your business. If your food is bad, however, even if everything else about your business is perfect, customers are unlikely to return.
Similarly, the quality of your menu is a big factor in restaurant success. If your menu has 5 items, the lack of choice will likely be off-putting. However, if it is an extensive, fully thought out menu, it will be more enticing to customers.
3. The Business Plan
The business plan is another aspect that causes restaurants to fail. In this modern landscape, you need a well thought out marketing plan, including aspects of social media and alternative dining options, such as takeaway and delivery. Without all the necessary strategies in place, your competitors will take the lead.
What are other common problems for a restaurant?
In addition to the problems already mentioned, there are also some smaller, more trivial problems that can contribute to the failure of your restaurant, as well as background start up problems. When all these factors add up, your restaurant is in trouble.
Location is key to getting your restaurant noticed. You need to have a good understanding of your target market and make sure your restaurant is in a high foot traffic area that your potential customers frequent. Pick a location where you are going to be seen by the right people.
Your restaurant needs to appeal to the eye. A customer is unlikely to walk past a gray, depressing looking restaurant and think to themselves, that’s where I want to have dinner. You need to make it enticing and inviting to passers-by.
Lack of Experience
If the restaurant owner doesn’t have the relevant experience needed to run a restaurant, it is doomed from the start. Without proper knowledge of the restaurant industry, you simply won’t know how to effectively run your business. It’s important to surround yourself with people who know what they’re doing and to stay up to date on the latest trends in the restaurant industry. With that said, most, if not everyone, can learn with proper training. Give your team a chance to grow by taking the time to train them!
Lack of Resources
Ultimately, if you want to run a successful restaurant, you need to have the money to support your dream. You must be realistic with your expectations and what you can afford, so make sure you budget your entire plan, and ensure you have a safety net in place if all else fails.
How do you turn around a struggling restaurant?
Now that we’ve got all the bad stuff out the way, let’s move on to how we can help. Even if you’re reading this thinking your restaurant ticks all the boxes of the failing restaurant, not all hope is lost.
Here are some general, quick fix tips to help save your restaurant:
Perfect your menu
Creating the perfect menu is a quick and easy fix for your restaurant. You don’t want to over or underwhelm your customers with too many or too few options. The best way to fix this issue is to identify what dishes your customers enjoy the most and just include those on your menu.
It also goes without saying that in order for your menu to be as professional and impressive as possible, make sure it has all the correct spelling and grammar. You can also design it to reflect your business or chosen cuisine, to create as much of an immersive experience as possible.
Your location will likely dictate what your opening hours should be. If you are in a business district, you want to make sure you’re open at lunch to capitalize on all those hungry businessmen and women looking for a quick bite. If you are in a quirky millennial neighborhood, you probably want to make sure you’re open early to lure in those influencers looking to Instagram their brunch.
If you’re lucky enough to have some regulars, make sure you build a strong relationship with them. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool that will help your restaurant get the attention it deserves. Advanced marketing tools and loyalty programs can help you retain your loyal customers and increase your visibility!
Adapt your business model
The pandemic has challenged the traditional way of doing things. Businesses across different industries have had to adapt either by opening new revenue streams, tweaking their strategy to better respond to customers’ needs or by changing their business model. In the restaurant industry, we’ve seen the emergence of ghost kitchens, which has allowed restaurant owners to cut down costs. Nowadays, do you really need a dine-in area?
Marketing and Social Media Tips
Having a strong marketing campaign and using social media will maximize the overall reach of your business.
Special events are a great gimmick to entice people into your restaurant. These events can be as wild or simple as you want. From a nightly happy hour to a big valentine’s day blow out, if customers think they are getting something special, you’ll be fully booked.
In the current day and age, it is almost impossible for a business to succeed without a social media presence. Make sure your business has a presence on all the major social media sites to optimize exposure. This is the perfect place to promote your restaurant, along with all the special events you are holding and any promotional material. You could also run competitions to increase engagement.
It is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but door-to-door marketing might just be the saving grace for your restaurant. If your restaurant is located in an urban area, surrounded by houses and families, putting a flyer in their doors to let them know you’re just around the corner might be enough to get them to come and check you out.
Tips to save your restaurant money
Invest in technology
Technology is a great tool to boost your profit margins. Leveraging an online ordering system and offering delivery will help you get your food to as many people as possible. Companies such as UEAT offer integrated delivery services without having to pay commission, a great feature that helps you save money. In fact, our clients have increased their average bill by up to 40%!
Shop around for suppliers
If your business is financially struggling, you need to have a hard look at your finances. There is a chance that when you crunch the numbers you begin to realize you’re paying more for your ingredients than you’re charging for the meals. If this is the case, don’t be scared to contact other suppliers and find the best deal possible, you won’t regret it.
The importance of feedback
Feedback is an important tool that you can utilize at every stage of your restaurant development. You can use it to help identify struggling areas when your restaurant is failing, but you can equally use it to identify areas of improvement when it’s thriving. It is important to constantly check and interact with reviews to allow your business to develop in the best possible way.
As demonstrated, if your restaurant is currently failing, not all hope is lost, there will always be things that you can do and systems that you can put in place that will save your business. Before you can start to make meaningful changes within your business, you need to assess how your restaurant operates and what is working and what isn’t working. Once you’ve put in the leg work to identify your problems, you can start making changes, whether they’re as small as fine-tuning your menu items or as big as negotiating food cost.
A failing restaurant is a scary prospect to be faced with, especially in this climate with the coronavirus pandemic threatening so many people’s livelihoods so you’re going to want to do everything possible to ensure the success of your business. The best piece of advice possible in this situation is to have faith in technology, as it is what is keeping the world going at the moment. Advertising your food on social media and using delivery services will make sure that even in these toughest of times, your restaurant will thrive.