Restaurants all around the country closed their dining rooms as COVID-19 began to spread. As a response, the industry adapted, shifting to delivery/takeout only, turning their space into a retail store, creating meal kits, and more. Now, states are beginning to lift lockdown protocols and restaurants are wondering if they are going to reopen in-house dining, and how.Whether your restaurant has been serving takeout/delivery or is beginning to open up for the first time in weeks, it’s important to create a buzz around this change in operations. Creating a reopening marketing strategy can seem daunting, but luckily there are a few simple ways that you can stay top of mind through COVID-19.
As shelter-at-home orders begin to lift, more and more people are practicing social distancing in public spaces again. A simple sidewalk chalkboard or outdoor banner indicating that you are open can go a long way. Consider adding what makes your business unique, like “Family Owned” or “Authentic Mexican Cuisine” to stand out.
By posting the safety protocols your restaurant is following on your front door or window, your community can trust that you’re taking their safety seriously.
Social media can seem overwhelming, and let’s face it – downright hard. However, with more than 200 million posts tagged #food, you simply can’t afford not to have an online presence as a restaurant today. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok are great ways to create engaging content for your customers and community.
Here are a few social media strategies for promoting in-restaurant dining and engaging with your community:
- Have a contest! Create a post and have your followers “like, comment, or share” it for a chance to win a small prize for in-restaurant dining, like a free dessert.
- Boosting posts are an easy and low-cost way to reach a larger audience. Boost a post of your in-restaurant dining menu and safety precautions to let your community know how you’re operating.
- Engage with your customers and promote in-restaurant dining with a Facebook live Q&A. This is a great opportunity to share with your followers the safety precautions you are taking, information about your menu, and to answer any questions they may have.
We also suggest sharing pictures and videos of your team following reopening protocols. It’s important that your community sees the steps you are taking, and social media is one of the best ways to do that.
For more information about using social media for your restaurant: download our guide.
Reopening in-restaurant dining is a challenging decision, you need to make sure you’re following proper guidelines, while also having enough customers to meet your bottom line.
If you’re struggling to have customers dine-in, try these tactics:
- Update your website and have your staff share in-restaurant dining operations with takeout/delivery customers.
- Offer a special dish (or dishes) that’s only available when you dine in.
- Consider hosting a presentation, solo musician, or movie screening (make sure you have proper licensing if you’re doing this). Create a reservation list to ensure you only allow a certain number of people in to comply with regulations.
As part of the foodservice industry, we must continue to stay flexible to follow the current protocols while serving our customers. This is likely to be a new normal for the next few months and will require lots of trial and error. With that leaves the opportunity to serve our communities in ways we could have never thought of before.