Many businesses have closed during the lockdowns since March of last year. Restaurant owners furloughed employees to stay afloat. Now, with restrictions lifted, how can VA restaurants adapt to “the new normal”?
Impact of COVID-19
The pandemic affected VA restaurants and the industry differently. Some maintained or even increased their sales while others suffered a decline.
Fine-dining didn’t fare well during the lockdowns. Until now, their sales haven’t seen an improvement yet. People are still wary of spending on luxury items and meals and would rather choose necessities or save first.
During the pandemic and post-crisis, restaurants with digital footprints (take-out/delivery), loyalty reward programs, and strong CRM systems survived. They even managed to increase their sales compared to their dine-in counterparts.
Experts and businesses are uncertain of economic recovery. Hopes are fading, and the pandemic continues to scare people. Despite the policy interventions, recovery projections are grim.
Possible scenarios are:
- VA Restaurants may recover by early 2021 while the virus is contained.
- VA Restaurants may take three years more to recover due to the resurgence of the virus.
The recovery will also vary from one type to another. As mentioned, restaurants with quick-service or take-out and delivery could recover faster.
If the economy and its recovery continue to plunge or be at a standstill, franchisees and independent restaurants will suffer. These business owners would have to request financial assistance. This assistance could come from the franchisor or the government.
In 2021, one out of five restaurants would have to close temporarily or permanently. The share of independent restaurants will fall to 43% as compared to 53% before the pandemic.
However, these projections could change. The change depends on how restaurants implement safety procedures in preventing virus resurgence.
Steps to Take in the New Normal
Regardless of these grim projections, the future holds uncertainties. Restaurants might have difficulties adapting to the new normal. Still, a return to stability and recovery is possible. How? By doing these steps.
Show your customers that it’s safe to eat in your restaurant. Change standard procedures that aren’t applicable in post-COVID situations. You need to adopt stricter safety protocols, considering that your business is in the restaurant industry.
You may even bring back temporarily laid-off employees. Alternatively, consider a talent-exchange program with other restaurants to share labor and costs.
Consider a Segmented Approach
Create segmented approaches to the different types of customers in your restaurant.
- Loyal customers – personalized messages telling them it’s safe to dine, the date of reopening, and other critical information
- Customers who spent their money on your competitors – create a marketing strategy such as loyalty rewards
- First-time customers – offer irresistible offers
- Potential customers – a creation of a new restaurant landscape attracts new customers.
Optimize Delivery Services
Even if the sales during the pandemic aren’t the same right now, optimize your delivery services. Some people still don’t want to dine out and would prefer to cook at home. Alternatively, they may avail of delivery occasionally. Optimized delivery services will certainly attract patrons and potential customers.
Redesign Your Restaurant
This task may involve installing drive-through windows and layout changes to make room for pick-up lines. The goal here is to create a seamless entrance and exit for customers without violating health standards such as physical distancing.
A redesign isn’t limited to physical layouts. You might also need to reinvent your menu and cater to customer’s preferences based on a segmented approach. Monitor food trends such as paleo and vegan diets.
Evaluate the current situation of your restaurant. Use real-time data to assess the health of a location. If necessary, close locations that aren’t bringing in sales or costing you money.
Increase Digital Engagement
The shift from dine-in to off-premise options is inevitable. This could continue in the next several years, even beyond the recovery phase after the pandemic.
Pandemic or not, digital engagement is essential in the restaurant industry. With the increased availability and streamlining of technology, people prefer to do business digitally.
Richmond Restaurant Insurance can protect your business from a crisis. One of the coverages is business interruption. Although this won’t cover the losses your business might incur, an insurance policy will surely reduce them.
Throughout the pandemic and its effect on the economy, VA restaurants with strong digital engagement remain resilient. Plus, you have to create some changes to stay in the competition.
About Blue Sky Insurance Agency
For over 20 years, family owned Blue Sky Insurance Agency has proudly specialized in insurance and tax services for Virginia residents. Our philosophy is simple: “If you can dream it, we can insure it.” We strive to provide value to our clients by establishing and building relationships and focusing on more than just rates. We are dedicated to providing holistic and strategically tailored solutions to protect all of your assets, and to provide peace of mind wherever life takes you. To get in touch with us, fill out a complimentary quote form, or call us at one of our two locations:
Phone: (804) 745-4044
PO Box 35674
North Chesterfield, VA, 23235
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm
Phone: (804) 404-2030
9932 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA, 23235
Hours of Operation: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm