These steps are essential for keeping your business top-of-mind during the pandemic.
Did COVID-19 take you by surprise? You’re not alone. No matter what we do, no person—let alone business—can ever fully be prepared for the effects of something as globally impactful as a pandemic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt. If you’re unsure how to get your business COVID-19 ready, here are some simple yet essential tips for staying connected to your customers while they shelter in place.
1. Before you do anything else, make sure your basics are covered.
Update the homepage of your website so that the user doesn’t need to search. Keep your homepage timely and up to date, including:
- Current menu offerings
- Changes to your restaurant’s hours
- Updated service availability
- Are you currently offering curbside pickup, online ordering or delivery? Be clear about the many ways your customer can order, and make it as easy as possible for them to take action.
- Don’t hide your call-to-action behind multiple clicks—make it as obvious as you possibly can!
- Share what precautions you’re taking to keep customers safe
- Update any online listings including YELP and Google My Business
- Update your social media bio to include your take-out / delivery options
- Email your customers with your new hours of operation, take-out options, etc.
- Create a physical banner announcing that takeout and delivery is available, along with your phone number or website
If you don’t have a website, now is the time to make one. Use an easy-to-navigate platform such as Squarespace or WIX. Also, if you don’t have a Yelp or Instagram account, it’s important to create one now so customers can easily find your information.
2. Offer items other than just food.
- People are looking to support local restaurants. Offer gift cards and merchandise as add-ons to orders. Encourage people to purchase more with a special offer, such as a free $20 gift certificate when you buy $100 worth of gift cards.
- If you are selling merchandise, encourage people to post a photo of them wearing it on social media and tag your restaurant to be entered into a contest. It gets your logo and messaging out in a visible, free way.
- Offer cocktail kits or, now that alcohol can be ordered, offer wine and beer specials.
- Double as a general store. If you can get hard-to-find essentials, such as flour or yeast, offer that to your customers.
3. Include a handwritten note in takeout orders to build or reinforce your relationship with your guests.
4. Consider using third-party delivery services, such as Bite Squad, Uber Eats or DoorDash, to help widen your reach.
5. Offer new menu items, family meal packs or special daily menus to create excitement and return guests. Play off of special days of the week (i.e. Taco Tuesday).
6. Bounceback Offers: Include bounceback coupons in takeout meals to incentivize repeat orders.
7. Be social. Post great-looking food photos on Instagram for your followers to like, share and salivate over. Overcommunicate with your audience on what’s new or changing with your business, but be positive. Use all aspects of social media including IGTV, Instagram Live, Facebook Live and more. Connect with your customers by showing them how the magic happens behind the scenes and highlighting the back-of-house employees who are working hard to facilitate takeout orders. You can also feature your customers on social media. Ask customers to post their meals on social, and repost—not only to grow your audience, but to build your personal relationships with your current customers as well.
Some relevant social media hashtags to use:
8. Create Zoom Backgrounds of your Restaurant. Have customers who are working from home? Give them Zoom image backgrounds featuring your front-of-house to download and use during their conference calls.