What does lockdown mean for the restaurant industry?
On the 4th of July, it was announced that restaurants and hospitality establishments could re-open following government guidelines, which was a huge sigh of relief and excitement for the hospitality industry.
The excitement of having customers filling up seats again is met with the importance of safety amongst both your customers and staff.
Being aware of the government guidelines including the one-metre social distancing, and the current one household rule ensures your customers can happily and safely enjoy your restaurant experience once again. Make sure, however, that customers are aware of the rules and precautions you have in place as soon as they step onto your premises.
Same goes for your staff, making sure that they have the ability to do their job safely and still provide the best experience as possible for your eager customers.
The government recommends only table service for customers, so that no queues linger at the bar, which means staff may be slightly busier than normal.
With this in mind, it may mean staff need to be more attentive to customers depending on how your restaurant is run, and after months of furlough, it may be time to brush up on their hospitality skills.
Have a read of our article here, which runs through tips for hospitality during lockdown.
Planning, Designing and Calculating Restaurant Capacity Post Lockdown
So, with all that said above, how can you calculate your new restaurant capacity?
Well firstly, we have the number of people in enclosed spaces reduced, meaning the one-metre rule between each table is mandatory across all restaurants.
This can be seen as a positive, however, as it was originally assumed the two-metre rule would be in place, so it does mean that you can have more customers seated (depending on size and ability within your restaurant).
This does mean though that booking times will need to be staggered to reduce the number of people in one enclosed space at a time, to ensure your restaurant is following the government guidelines to remain open.
If you have access to an outdoor space on your restaurant premises, it is advised to encourage outdoor eating.
This is a really profitable way to get more covers, as up to 6 people from different households can meet outside at pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality establishments with social distancing in place, according to government guidelines.
Indoor seating needs to follow more strict guidelines, however, with two households allowed to meet indoors (dependant on local lockdown restrictions), and a one-metre measurement between each table.
When customers and staff enter, having the door wedged reduces the contact with door handles and the spread of bacteria.
Hygiene features need to be clearly stated and signposted when customers enter your restaurant so that they are aware you have their safety as best interest.
This also applies to staff; ensure your staff have access to suitable hygiene to make sure they aren’t at risk.
Ensure your staff social distance when serving customers, with additionally having staggered shifts to ensure the lowest possible number of people.
The increase of payment via contactless has been increased to £45, so where possible contactless payment should be encouraged.
If a customer, however, does need to pay by card, the card machine should be laminated to encourage the safety of both customers and staff and should be wiped down after each use.
Marketing & Maintaining your Social Media presence
It’s important to make your customers aware of the new process you have in place, and what better way to do that than use social media.
Establish Target Market
First and foremost, who are you wanting to target? Establishing a target market is critical in the initial stage of a social and online marketing strategy.
Using social platforms allows you to reach a wide range of people, so it is important to focus in on one segment, for example, 20-50-year olds in the Manchester area.
Then you can go ahead and tailor content and ads around this market so they will be more likely to engage and convert.
You want to appear on your customers feed, but not to the point where you’re all they see; think of it as a little nudge, you want to remind them you’re still here during these times and are planning to come back soon.
Targeting your posts within Facebook ads will help you reach your target market in a specific location, which is great if you only have a single site or multiple establishments.
Building the Hype
Get your audience excited! You are back open after months of closure, excite them by posting a series of posts such as new menu items, what they can get excited for.
What does the restaurant look like? Have you got a new dish you’re excited for them to try? What can they expect from the new experience?
These are all questions your customers will have in their mind, so get them eager and ready to come back by building up the hype about your restaurant.
Post this content across your restaurant’s website and social pages.
Highlighting the Safety
As many customers have their concerns about the safety aspects of hospitality establishments, it is vital to ensure you get the message across in your social posts that your restaurant is government compliant.
The use of images throughout posts to actually display to your customers what your restaurant looks like will give them clarity making them more likely to return.
Additionally, adding a call to action within a post should increase booking percentages.
Creating a sense of urgency
Urgency is a great tactic to get the attention of your audience. If you have a spare table for that night or a recent cancellation, get it out to your customers as soon as possible.
Using terms such as ‘Last Chance!‘, ‘Quick, Last Table Available!’, ‘Hurry Only One Space Available!’ will encourage further bookings. Learn more about call to actions and enquiries via Facebook ads.
What’s next for restaurants & hospitality?
So, what’s next for you and your restaurant? Now is the time to adapt rather than hide away. Keeping in touch and updating your customers is vital during this time, as we don’t know what will happen from week to week.
We’ve seen local lockdowns across the country taking place over the last month, and many people reverting back to takeaways. On the other hand, it has encouraged more to cease the opportunity to eat out to help out and have their mid-week meals in restaurants.
As we’ve stated, having a digital strategy is key not just throughout Covid, but for the foreseeable future of your business.
If you’re looking to grow your business’ online presence, get in touch today by having a look at our digital marketing strategy services to see how we can help.