Preparing the reopening of ones restaurant: the challenge of planning and organizing the future
The ban on welcoming customers in ones restaurant, due to the health crisis, removes one of a restaurant owner's main purposes: to offer a welcoming place where people can meet to spend a moment together for dinner or lunch. The restaurant owner is then reduced to being a simple "meal provider" and must temporarily mourn his role as host to concentrate on a catering service consumed outside its walls.
Therefore, adaptation and anticipation have never been as important as now; because of the indoor service having currently been stopped, time allows us to foresee the future of organization and to implement projects that have been postponed until now.
Today, we offer you the opportunity to study three areas of preparing the reopening of your restaurant:
- the implementation or development of take-away sales and new services
- bonding with- and training of- your staff
- communication and digital visibility of the restaurant.
Develop and expand take-away sales and new services (through additional services and diversification of the offer)
Takeaway and click & collect have been the two key words of the last few months: these sales methods for restaurants, already used previously through the multiple platforms available today, have become even more popular as we await the reopening of restaurants. Take advantage of this opportunity to benefit from all its potential and ensure its continuity even after the crisis.
A closed kitchen in a sit-down restaurant can serve as a “ghost kitchen” and prepare dishes for delivery. The creation of the "virtual restaurant" will certainly require an investment of time and energy but will allow the staff to keep on working.
Consumers are also increasingly demanding new and various offers: subscriptions for example, are currently on the rise. Being able to pick up a meal from your favorite restaurant once or twice a week, especially if it's next door, is a great opportunity.
Opt for a short and adapted menu and be inventive to increase your offer. For example, by offering your famous tomato sauce or salted butter caramel in a takeaway pot.
Have you found suppliers or outstanding products? Propose a small selection to your customers.
Beyond the additional sales, it's a way to stay present in the minds of your customers, and even to increase restaurant traffic. No one can predict what the future neighborhood restaurant will look like. It will maybe involve a new job as a restaurant-caterer-grocer?
Le Phare Saint-Louis crêperie, which we contacted to gather their testimonial, had continued the take-out sales during the first confinement in March 2020 in order to "keep in touch" with customers and provide support during this difficult period. New customer requests had led the managers to reduce the menu and adapt it, with, for example, a selection of burgers and hotdogs based on galettes to facilitate "on-the-go" consumption.
Unfortunately, there are only few restaurants for which take-away sales are as profitable as the regular service. Economic considerations have lead the Phare St Louis to momentary stop take-out sales, they will resume them again in March in 4 of their 7 restaurants.
The key to a successful takeaway sale is therefore adaptation:
taking up the street-food codes by adapting them to your own universe and reworking your takeaway menu with suitable and adapted products, with the aim of extending this offer even after the reopening.
Don't limit yourself to only offering ready-to-eat dishes: you can also create kits allowing the customer to finish or assemble the dish at home: fresher and more fun, this solution will also bring the consumer greater satisfaction!
Reconnect with your teams and train them!
To keep your teams motivated even in a situation of short-time working, it is important to create or maintain the link with everyone, and to transform this difficult moment into a moment of opportunity, with training and team building for example.
Phare Saint-Louis has made a point of keeping in touch with its employees thanks to digital technology: information e-mails and zoom meetings have also made room for more informal communication, with encouraging videos produced by the team and greeting cards sent to more than 60 employees, or individual sessions to strengthen relationships.
To reconnect with your teams and in order to avoid loss of motivation, you can also organize challenges that can stimulate them: inventing a new dish that can be on the menu when it reopens, for example. The important thing is to keep in touch in these difficult times, while anticipating the comeback.
A good way to get ready while keeping in touch is to train the teams!
Employees at the Phare Saint-Louis were able to take advantage of this moment to be trained on the new hygiene rules specific to Covid, but also on management methods, stress management, non-violent communication or even to become a first-aid rescuer at work.
The important thing for the restaurant chain is to "give meaning to work, reinventing itself and to give a breath of fresh air" during this period of doubt, and to preserve and maintain the fundamentals which define the Phare St Louis: "the team and the soul".
Communicate and offer new (digital) visibility to the restaurant
Finally, a key point that will allow the success of your restaurant at the reopening remains the communication with your customers. This temporary shutdown is a good time to implement the ideas you have had in mind for a long time without having had the time to realize them. Enhanced visibility can be achieved through rejuvenating the establishment, an increased presence on social networks, or contests for the reopening.
The Phare Saint-Louis, for example, has focused on two key areas:
- The promotion of local and more responsible products with communication around artisanal know-how, short circuits and products from organic farming. Their food is delivered in sustainable Eocrep packaging for take-away sales.
- The facelift of the restaurants, with a makeover of the decoration inspired by urban art and a competition of young artists organized around the history of crêpes, or the promotion of new, fresher products such as new ciders.
It is also important to keep in touch with your customers through newsletters and posts on Instagram or Facebook, to show the work and changes in progress, and thereby make your customers want to come back to your restaurant as soon as it reopens.
This future moment must be prepared as an event, so don't hesitate to organize it as such to be sure of its success: you can for example organize a tasting evening, or a meeting around an artist. Don't wait until the last moment to prepare your reopening because anticipating new consumption patterns and trends is essential to ensure a successful and more serene reopening. Customers will be eager to get back to the restaurants, and they will of course be sensitive to any changes you may have made to ensure that they have convivial and warm moments after these difficult times! Show your customers that you are preparing everything for their return, and you can be sure that they will be coming.