Re-Inventing Your Restaurant Business to Survive & Thrive in the ‘New Normal’

restaurant business tips new normal post covid-19

As a restaurant entering the post-Covid world , delivery and click & collect services are no longer a ‘nice to have’, they are a fundamental part of the revenue streams of the future. Get it right now, and you will effectively future proof yourself for years to come.

One good thing to come out of the lockdown is the plethora of apps and web apps which support restaurants in the post-Covid ‘normal’. However, their ubiquity brings with it a series of important decisions, which can be confusing at best, and totally bewildering at worst.

Here, Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of Stem + Glory, shares her experience and reveals her top five areas to focus on as you build your takeaway and delivery services:

1. Streamline everything

Whether you like it or not, Covid-19 highlighted a hospitality industry that was already creaking under the strain. Demands on operators pre-Covid were immensely high, and consumers placed very high expectations on restaurants, expecting open all hours service, extensive menus, high quality ingredients, yet low price points.

Everyone that has experienced a period of closure now has the opportunity to reinvent themselves, and streamline everything – staff, what they are offering, opening hours.

Start with a business model that feels manageable to you (not the outside world) in terms of hours and staffing levels, and work from there. Build up slowly, one step at a time with profitability in mind at every stage of that reopening journey.

2. Reimagine your Menu

Your new menu needs to be delivery friendly. It is my belief that the restaurant food of the future will be created to travel well, and be equally selected for it’s appeal on the plate, and in a delivery box.

Consider the components of your menu item, and separate them into separate boxes so your home consumer can assemble their meal onto a plate. Make the ordering as flexible as possible, so customers can customise their order.

For example, with all our main courses, customers can select their own choice of side which is included in the price. We then also offer additional sides for a reduced price. It’s an excellent way to increase the spend per head, whilst giving your customers good value for money

3. Invest in your tech

If there is one place I would urge investing right now, it would be in upgrading your tech. We started with overhauling our Epos system which is something we had wanted to do for a while, but it had always previously felt too onerous. Lockdown was the perfect opportunity.

Our Epos system is now the central pillar of all our other tech integrations, and if you are going to be doing take away, or click and collect, whatever apps you use make sure they will do a full integration with your Epos.

If you get this right, then gone are the days of multiple ipads and printers on your counter. Delivery, click and collect, app orders and order and pay at table can all be integrated through your one Epos, and one ticket printer. Spend time researching this.

4. Which delivery service?

Whilst using the main aggregators when you first launch a delivery service is definitely helpful as they will give you exposure, consider building your own delivery alongside these external platforms.

There are independent delivery companies such as Stuart that can integrate with many of the online ordering systems, so you have an opportunity to market your own delivery as well as have a place at the Deliveroo table.

In the mid term we are also considering our own small delivery cycle fleet as it’s a really valuable marketing tool to have your own branded cycles.

5. Customer service

Customers will need our support when returning to our establishments in making them feel not only Covid safe, but also safe navigating our new ordering systems.

Make sure you have considered how you will explain your new systems to your customers, and if you have anything specific in place, make sure it is clear as soon as a customer walks through your door. The more comfortable they feel, the better experience they will have.

Have them make recommendations and describe the dishes as a priority. And have some disposable paper menus at the ready too, some customers just might not be willing or able to use their mobile device.

With order and pay at table now also part of the ‘new normal’ where does that leave us in terms of customer service? At Stem & Glory we believe this is a massive opportunity for us to reinvent our legendary friendly service into an even more meaningful experience for our customers.

Engagement no longer has to be just taking orders. Get your staff pitch perfect in yoru menu and they can bring it to life verbally to your customers – from a safe distance of course!

Offer support and friendliness at every stage of the customer journey. Extend that care to take away customers, delivery drivers on a very kind and personal level and you will have them leaving happy and satisfied and spreading the word.

An opportunity to rebuild

There has been a lot of negative talk during lockdown, which is understandable given the uncertainty, but endless repetition of negativity is an easy trap to fall into. We believe there is opportunity too, to rebuild hospitality in a stronger and more resilient way, less dependent on foot traffic, and more focused on profitability and new revenue streams.

During lockdown we have been able to successfully re-negotiate very favourable terms on a new Covid proof site in Cambridge, and a second site in London for 2021. Both these sites will be built with a greater percentage back of house capacity to enable delivery services and online sales.

We believe that there will be better deals to be had on the other side of this crisis, greater co-operation between landlords and tenants, greater appreciation for employers and employees alike.

And finally, our greatest desire – greater awareness and actions around sustainability and the circular economy, and in particular of course, mass consumption of plant based food as the ‘new normal’.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem + Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem + Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge.

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