COVID-19 has brought with it a flurry of disappointing, albeit necessary changes, for an unexpected start to summer. Pubs, shops, and restaurants have shut down to help curb the spread of the virus, having unfortunate consequences to our social lives and leisure time. For many bar and restaurant owners, this is also a tough time, with doors closed to the public for the foreseeable future.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom for the restaurant industry. It has never been more important for restaurant owners to work on keeping their brand strong, relevant, and attractive to customers. With the negative publicity Virgin have garnered over treatment of their staff and encouraging them to take unpaid leave during the pandemic, customers are calling to boycott companies that haven’t acted well. Covid-19 could change the way the world works, including what customers expect from brands.
Here, we’ll take a look at marketing strategies restaurant owners should employ to keep customers loyal during lockdown and enhance your reputation.
Share your recipes with your customers
Not only will sharing your recipes with your customers make them incredibly happy, it’ll show that you’re trying to help irrespective of profits, create a sense of community, as well as giving them a taste for the authentic thing when this is all done. This will be particularly valuable to those people who don’t usually spend as much time cooking or aren’t confident in their abilities – so give them the recipes to your loved dishes – it’ll pay dividends! Remember, customers come to restaurants for the experience of being cooked for and waited on in your venue, so don’t worry about driving customers away when this is done.
Asian restaurant Wagamama has launched their online video series ‘Wok from Home’ across their social media platforms to help us recreate dishes in the comfort of our own kitchens. Imagine how much they’ll be craving your signature dish once they taste their home-made version?
Sign up with a delivery service or go solo
If you haven’t already, it goes without saying that if you have the means to stay open to cook behind closed doors like some restaurants and takeaways in the UK are doing, you should consider signing up to a delivery service like Just Eat or Deliveroo. It’s worth noting that Meltwater conducted research and found that when creating survival strategies for eateries, being able to pay online was one of the most important factors, as well as 83 per cent agreeing they would order food from local eateries to enjoy at home.
Get your food cooked, up the kitchen lift, and out to your customers’ front doors to keep them satisfied during this trying time. It won’t be forgotten, and make sure to offer some healthy dishes too.
Give discounts and promotions
Offering discounts and promotions is like a gesture of good faith to your customers, and considering many of your customers have potentially lost their jobs or have been furloughed with a pay cut, this can be an incredibly positive and moving thing.
Consider keeping your discounts for key workers for a period of time after lockdown, recognising their hard work and dedication will show you as a caring part of the community who want to do some good. With many companies and restaurants offering NHS workers discounts, you don’t want to stand out as one who didn’t.
Manage your social media accounts
If you haven’t already set up social media accounts, now is the time to do so. Speak to your customers directly and personally. Remember Bill Gates’ often cited “content is king” quote? The impact of content on a brand is undeniable. We’re all stuck at home, browsing the web, so take advantage of this and share honestly what you’re doing, how you’re coping, and as we mentioned before, videos of your recipes. How about a live cooking show?
Don’t let social distancing distance your relationship with your customers. Now is the time to connect and support each other in a chaotic and uncertain time.