Over half a year has passed since the news of a novel coronavirus first broke, and it is still unclear as of yet when the pandemic will be over, and things can go back to normal. Some industry experts are saying that the restaurant industry will never fully return to the way it once was and are bracing themselves for a new normal post-pandemic.
Restaurants have been hit harder than most industries. As they navigate the changing times, many are looking ahead and trying to determine what a successful restaurant will even look like post-pandemic. It’s still unclear as of yet, but several trends have emerged so far, and industry leaders are looking towards a few key areas of change:
Even after the thread of contracting the virus dies down, customers will still be more focused on their safety, which is why a successful restaurant will be one that has prioritized safety measures above all else.
Tables will likely continue to be spaced out farther apart to allow for social distancing. When weather is nice, outdoor seating will be much more popular, and can help restaurants recoup some of their losses from reduced seating. You’ll also likely see limited seating at each table in the post-pandemic world. Social distancing guidelines may be lifted eventually, but customers and restaurants alike will remain wary of large gatherings.
As far as cleaning and sanitizing go, it will continue to be important to do this regularly and thoroughly. Ramp up cleaning efforts and ensure proper personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves are worn whenever possible.
Make sure your employees are trained on proper handwashing and enforce your handwashing policy as much as you are able to. Train staff how to effectively clean and sanitize surfaces. Most restaurants will need to have a solid cleaning and sanitization schedule in place.
Lastly, successful restaurants will be the ones that limit face-to-face contact wherever possible. This can be done by utilizing contactless services like delivery and curbside pickup. You can also invest in technology solutions like kiosks that can handle tasks like taking orders and processing payments, so that you can keep customers safe while enjoying a positive return.
Once the threat passes, restaurants will be working hard to recoup some of the losses they’ve experienced. The ones that achieve success post-pandemic will be the ones that have reduced their losses as much as possible by simplifying their menus. This allows a restaurant to stretch their inventory as much as possible, cutting down on waste and increasing profits.
Even post-pandemic, this will likely continue, as it helps restaurants achieve higher profitability with their inventory. Start by reducing the number of shared items like appetizers. These can increase the spread of pathogens and likely won’t be missed too much.
The biggest areas that you will likely see major shifts in are the services restaurants offer. Before, many restaurants mostly relied on dine-in and table-service sales for a large majority of their profits. After COVID-19, restaurant goers will still dine in, but other services will be heavily emphasized.
Online ordering is one of the biggest revenue drivers for restaurants currently. Though the pandemic has significantly increased the use of online ordering, its popularity was rising well before the virus first struck. Post-pandemic, customers will have gotten so used to the convenience of online ordering that its prevalence is likely to continue increasing.
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Delivery is more popular now than it has ever been before. With the rise of third-party delivery services, nearly every restaurant is now capable of offering a delivery service. Whether you utilize one of these third-party services or operate your own delivery service, it will be nearly impossible for a successful restaurant to remain profitable and competitive without offering some sort of delivery service in the future.
Curbside pickup goes alongside delivery as one of the most popular services available. Customers enjoy the safety and convenience of being able to pick up their orders and enjoy them in the comfort of their own homes without having to pay a delivery fee. Once the pandemic is over, customers will likely be busier and won’t have enough time for on-premises dining every time they want to order something. A successful post-pandemic restaurant will have a fast and efficient curbside pickup operation. Putting the right technology in place, such as rugged tablets, to take orders and process transactions curbside is crucial to the success of curbside pick up service.
Ghost kitchens had been popping up in cities regularly before the pandemic, but they are only more popular now. With a ghost kitchen, you don’t offer any on-premises dining. You operate on a delivery-only model. This can save on operating costs by allowing the owners to eliminate quite a lot of overhead costs associated with traditional restaurants. It’s anticipated that ghost kitchens will become more popular in the future.
Kiosks are also on the rise. With these devices, customers can place their own orders at the kiosk and have them sent directly to the POS and kitchen display. This cuts down on wait time, improves accuracy, and boosts order size with the use of automated upselling prompts. But perhaps the most important feature of kiosks currently is that, if cleaned regularly and properly, they can keep customers safe from contracting any viruses by reducing face-to-face interactions.
There is a lot of uncertainty for what the state of the industry will look like once the virus is no longer a major threat. It’s difficult to determine exactly what changes your restaurant will need to implement in order to remain successful. While this is a stressful time for restaurant operators, it doesn’t have to signal doom. There are many things you can do in order to help your restaurant survive during the pandemic and continue to thrive afterwards. For more information on how you can stay successful, contact the experts at Touch Dynamic.