Hey there lovely foodies and beloved diners! After what seemed to be living in a never-ending age of lockdown, finally time has come to say goodbye to our lockdown blues. With economic restrictions softening up, restaurants are gearing up to reopen and reignite the celebration of their iconic food and dining experience. We all have spent a beautiful time with our family and in those moments of deep yearning for our favorite restaurant food, we must have tried our hand in making those same dishes at home and sharing them with our loved ones. At the same time, we also miss those great times dining out or ordering in with friends and family.
Having witnessed a deadly outbreak of a pandemic on an unprecedented magnitude in modern times, it has pushed us radically to raise our standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness. Therefore, when thinking of dining out or ordering in, the expectations on standards of a restaurant’s hygiene and cleanliness have dramatically shot up, increasing skepticism whether restaurants would live up to them or not. At the same time pandemic has made us sensitive and cautious toward contacting an unwell person or contacting an object (in our context, food) touched or handled by an unwell person. Such genuine concerns inviting extreme scrutiny from customers pose a challenge to restaurants, while also encouraging them to adapt their business methods and models to this new state of Normal.
But, hey! We are here to cheer you up! We will take you through constructive ways and means by which restaurants can inspire confidence in customers and earn them back!
Adopting Delivery Service
With social distancing being the first and foremost norm adopted in preventing the coronavirus, exclusively-dine-in restaurants should now partner-up with food aggregators (Swiggy, Zomato, etc.) or start their own delivery service in reaching out to those people who rather choose to order from home than crowd-up a restaurant. Restaurants can also opt for a branded strategy where internal resources can be used for local deliveries and third-party delivery services can be utilized for longer deliveries. This could help save up to 25% of the fee paid to the aggregator. Shifting to delivery service could also mean to innovate and customize Menus specifically dedicated to deliveries which are more transport-friendly.
Furthering the discussion on shifting to an off-premise service, contactless delivery is a leading novel technique being embraced by top restaurants and food aggregators and for solid reasons. One of the main concerns for a customer in the delivery process is unavoidable contact with the delivery-boy either for picking up the food package or for the payment. This could be avoided in Contactless Delivery where customer orders on the App and makes an online payment. Thereafter, the delivery-boy drops the package by the doorstep and leaves. An alert is sent to the customer on App that his food package is ready at the door and the customer goes and collects. This leaves no space for contact with intermediaries. Uengage provides brilliant features for contactless dining which is worth checking out!
Safety, Hygiene, & Quality As The Vision & Mission Statement!
Change in times should prompt a change in priorities, accordingly. Safety, hygiene, and quality should be made a top priority in the current scenario. Thorough fumigation of the kitchen and procurement storage premises, regular temperature check-up for employees, kitchen staff wearing proper masks and gloves while preparing food, effective cleaning of raw food materials, frequent hand washing and use of sanitizers, etc. should strictly be made into Standard Operating Procedure and which must be adhered to, strictly. This is only half the story. The other half consists of strong and aggressive communication to the public, especially, on digital media platforms through videos, images, blog posts, and tweets etc. spreading the message about these safety and hygiene measures being taken by the restaurant. This shall spur instant confidence in customers.
Make Your PR Game Strong
One of the best Branding and Communication strategies in these skeptical times is for the team to come forth and communicate the plan. If the team themselves comes forth and appears in the promotional videos and interviews explaining the hygiene measures and precautions taken by their establishment and if they pledge personal responsibility for public safety, it shall make a tremendous positive impact and instills great trust in the public.
It cannot be stressed enough. Public messaging and communication are at the heart of everything—all the changes, shifts, and improvements a restaurant undergoes to make their food and dining experience safe and healthy must be communicated proudly, loudly, clearly, and strongly. All the departments must be integrated with the marketing team, especially safety managers to bombard external communications through Website, Blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, through external reviews, PR efforts, and, etc., about each and every safety measure and precaution taken by each and every department in making the food and dining and experience safe and hygiene.
Supply-chain Exposure & Visibility
There is technology present to track and provide visibility for the food products starting from the farm to procurement to processing and finally into the plate. This technology aids restaurants to adhere to GS1 Standards. GS1 standards which are focused on improving the efficiency, visibility, and safety in the supply chain across digital and physical platforms, aim to trace the source of the raw materials and track every step they go through in the supply chain.
This technology helps restaurants immensely in upholding the quality and safety of the food materials they are sourcing and to address any issues or concerns rising along the way in the supply chain. Visibility and exposure of this process radically contribute to transparency and arouses a very high level of confidence in the brand in the customers.
Re-structuring Dine-in Experience
Pre-order and pre-paid-bill services introduced through the restaurant’s app/telephone shall dramatically change the Dine-in experience for better. The entire process of Dine-in, conventionally, is a heavy time-consuming process where the customers need to wait for the table. Once they get in, they shall be taking time to order for each individual. After the meal, time is consumed in waiting for the bill and finally for paying for the bill. With Pre-order and pre-paid-bill services, restaurant tables booked in advance, at the same time their order is placed online and bill is paid in advance. All that customers have to do is arrive on time, eat their food, and leave. This reduces crowding where one needs not be concerned with social distancing which therefore greatly improves the rate of inflow of customers opting for dine-ins.
Embracing New Dine-in Conventions
Spatial distancing of tables must be done. It provides an instant sense of relief. Immediate access to sanitizers and wipes at the entrance and on-call, if necessary. Digital menu facilities instead of physical ones. Sealed (with plastic or paper) plates, glasses, and cutlery. Providing small salt and pepper sachets instead of shakers. Sending electronic bills directly to the customer’s smartphones instead of using paper. Encouraging UPI and digital payments instead of card-swiping. All these changes shall help significantly in improving the trust in the public dining experience.
Uniting The Workforce With A Unifying Message
Entire workforce from kitchen department to back-end operations team to the marketing department, everyone should be on-boarded with the unifying message of safety and quality assurance and creating a platform for each department to come up with ideas, challenges and solutions in executing this new mission shall greatly improve efficiency in internal procedures and processes.
Feedback Is All Too Important!
Actively seeking customer inputs and insights through surveys, focus groups, or through plain short oral interviews on how to improve and upgrade while creating safer environments and processes, showcases restaurant’s genuine interest in public safety and inspires firm trust and solid confidence in customers.