With so many gastronomic options available these days, the restaurant industry is more competitive than ever. Add to that the economic setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And while recovery plans have been underway in Australia, the sentiment among food service businesses is far from optimistic.
After all, the country’s restaurant industry heavily relies on tourism, which has been put to a halt since the pandemic broke out. But businesses have received stimulus packages from the government quite early in the pandemic, and with relatively fewer reported cases, most restaurants were still able to operate.
But the gaping hole left by the pandemic is wide and clear, so it’s up to restaurateurs now to pivot their strategy to adapt to the times. With a shrunken market and still closed borders, restaurants will have to ramp up their operations and strategy to remain competitive.
Below are some strategies you can use to make your restaurant thrive in the post-pandemic landscape.
Elevate your dining experience
People have been accustomed to deliveries and take-out, and home-cooked meals are getting dull, so customers will set higher expectations when they book a table. One way to show customers that you care about their experience is to rethink your menu offerings. You can keep a few favorites here and there, but people are craving new experiences to meet their changing needs and desires.
The pandemic has also ushered in a new health-conscious trend, so be sure to include plant-based offerings and healthier options. You can also offer one-of-a-kind specials to attract people on certain days when table bookings are usually slow. On top of that, you should retrain your staff to deliver the best customer experience.
Boost your curb appeal
While your loyal customers might not mind returning to their favorite dining place, some would appreciate new features and small makeovers. You wouldn’t want to be that restaurant that seems to have frozen in time. One thing you can improve is your restaurant’s exterior. Nothing makes a lasting impression better than an enticing curb appeal.
You can consider putting up a glass porch enclosure to offer some indoor/outdoor eating experience. This will also double as a marketing strategy, as it gives hungry passersby a glimpse of your restaurant. And if that area is full and filled with happy customers, it will entice people to come in and see what’s the fuss about.
Bring back to the community
Getting involved in the community is a great way for restaurants to establish a solid local presence. Plus, customers love businesses that actively participate in the community. You can start a corporate social responsibility (CSR) team and plan different initiatives for causes you care about.
You can stick to a food-centric theme like helping set up soup kitchens for the homeless or try other causes like environmental and educational programs. You can also partner with community organizers and join events that may need catering. Or you can even host free cooking lessons and career mentorships for out-of-school youths.
Put your kitchen on full display
In most traditional restaurants, the chefs and kitchen staff behind the dishes often remain anonymous. Pique your patrons’ interest by making your kitchen visible. Be it a full display or a peek through a pass-through window; there’s always something fascinating about watching people prepare your food.
Plus, it allows customers to engage with your staff on a more personal level, making your dining experience one-of-a-kind. It can also be a good thing for your staff, as allowing them to be viewed gives them that extra challenge to do their best and opens an opportunity for patrons to compliment the chefs.
Engage on social media
Social media is a great tool for restaurants to attract local customers. Put your best foot forward by engaging with your followers and posting high-quality photos of your delectable dishes. Add a human touch by posting stories and short videos of your restaurant staff hard at work or goofing off in the kitchen.
If you have events or special promos, you can also spread the word via social media to attract more foot traffic. More importantly, an active social media profile is a great indication that your business is alive and well. You can also use it to gather reviews and testimonials that will influence others to pay a visit to your restaurant.
There are numerous things restaurants can do to become a stand-out in their area. Whatever you decide, it’s important to stay authentic and consistent, as customers can easily tell if you’re doing it for profit.