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How Restaurants Should Deal with Coronavirus

#Coronavirus : Let’s be honest, although there is no reason to panic, restaurants in Finland should be on alert and be prepared. Customers have already shown concerns about eating out in restaurants due to the situation of coronavirus in Italy and other countries in Europe, Asia and America. The decrease in customer attendance has the restaurant community on edge everywhere. Here are some of the best tips to help your restaurant be prepared and avoid being in the situation ‘restaurant zero’. Our Snappmeal team has collected tips and advice from big restaurant communities and trusted sources with the goal to help the restaurant community in Finland amid the concern over the coronavirus in Finland.

“The concerns happen even among Asian local eaters too. Although we have no staff coming back from the affected areas like Wuhan, Korea or Italy etc.”

Asian restaurant owner in Helsinki

Note: we only had a short time to collect all information and tips for this blog post and there are different opinions and information regarding this sensitive topic. Please be understanding if there is anything not correct, and please feel free to comment your opinions and advice to help our restaurant community during this tough phase.

1. Put cleaning hand sanitizing bottles on counters and on visible places so customers can easily use to wash their hands.

restaurant covid19Source: kauppakeskus citycenter

2. Put up on the guide to wash hands and protect yourself from coronavirus

restaurant covid19

3. Running promotions:

No one wants to have a restaurant zero (no sales, no customers). Attract your customers to buy from your restaurants by applying promotional discount tiers for different types of dining: dine in, pick up only (takeaway) and delivery.

For example: 20% off for dine in and takeaway, 10% off for food delivery. For some customers, even though having concerns over the coronavirus situation, are willing to pick up takeaway and food delivery (given incentives).

Try other types of loyalty-based promotions like: xx% off on first time customers, xx% off after 5 orders. Some restaurants have run this on our Snappmeal platform and see good balance in cost, revenue and retaining customer bases. This could be opportunities for you to attract new customers and make them loyal customers.

4. Lunch time is no longer your busy time?

Lunch time is always a busy time for restaurants in Finland as office workers eat out a lot during lunch time, and restaurants tend to have lounas (lunch deals) during lunch time. However, some restaurants have voiced their concerns that the number of customers has also decreased during lunch time.

Some customers bring their meals from home or buy food from supermarkets. We ask some eaters why they don’t order food delivery from their favorite restaurants. Some said that it is a long wait during lunch time as restaurants tend to be busy during that time….

Addressing customers’ concern, preparing meals in advance and offering that you can deliver meals to them (if they order 1-2 hours before eating time so you have more time to arrange food preparation and food delivery: deliver several orders to office buildings during a trip saves more cost and man-hours for you).

How to do that?
    A. Post on your social pages and websites.
    B. Provide incentive and urgency for lunch food ordering through Snappmeal and other food delivery apps: order by 11am to have xx% off (dine in, pickup only or food delivery).
Showing on Snappmeal app your promos and let Snappmeal direct customers to food ordering sites.

Restaurants can consider offering ‘contactless’ delivery services by leaving ordered food behind the customers’ doors. This way it’s possible to avoid any unnecessary contact between humans and mitigate the risk of contracting the virus.

5. Food delivery:

If you have available resources to offer food delivery (short or long distance, clearly state that in your social media pages, website and other partner apps.

Your system and process should be flexible with food ordering and food delivery: choose a channel that is easy for you to take orders & handle payments.

For many small and medium restaurants, live chat on website, Facebook messenger, Whatsapp and calling are the most efficient channels.

Besides, utilize your partner apps like Wolt, Foodora (food ordering and takeaway), Snappmeal (displaying your promotions & lunch menus around customers location).

6. If your restaurant has an open kitchen,

make sure your staff wear hairnets, gloves (and masks) while working to show your customers that you take health concerns seriously.

7. Staffing & Operation

Start ordering sanitizer, gloves, masks etc. (enough for your use). Train your staff about cleaning SOPs (standard operating procedures) for hygiene and the handling of food deliveries: ensuring workers wash their hands frequently, sanitizing high-touch areas and sending home workers that become ill during the day.

Notify your employees that they could only work when they are symptom-free: no coughing, sneezing or high body temperature. Consider checking employees temperature before the shift. It may sound like an overkill but precaution doesn’t cost you anything. Don’t forget to check your company health insurance for employees too.

8. If your business is still going smoothly,

consider stockpiling some extra ingredients in case suppliers are unable to fulfil demands. And help your staff prepared for changes and new procedures.

On the other hand, don’t let your ingredients go spoiled when you could sell them to a food rescue organization, or even drop them off at a local food bank. It may not be financially beneficial, but it will put you in a good light of the community while also helping the struggling individuals.

9. Inventory

Check your inventory ordering; consider whether your inventory ordering is optimized for the unstable demand right now. Is your menu optimized for the unstable demand and your ingredients? 

To utilize your ingredients, consider applying promotions (discount/ adds-on) for certain dishes or menus. For example: 10% off for set A, 15% off for signature dishes etc.

10. Let’s talk about the big elephant in the room

There has been false rumor and fake news that has blasted through social media over the world that has had direct effects on the restaurant community. And even within the restaurant community, there are two different reactions (happening in many other countries as well): within Asian restaurant communities and outside it. The former are being hit hard in Europe and USA.

Growing concerns of eating out in Asian restaurants, especially Chinese restaurants, make eaters reluctant to eat out in Asian restaurants. Some other restaurants, like non-Asian restaurants, are still business as usual. 

Some Asian restaurant owners have told us that they have experienced a dip in sales as being targeted overt prejudice on Asian restaurants. “The concerns happen even among Asian local eaters too. Although we have no staff coming back from the affected areas like Wuhan, Korea or Italy etc.” said one Asian restaurant owner in Helsinki.

For restaurants with looming sales, don’t let the situation let you down. If you see a huge decrease (20-30% down)  in your customer base, you know that the situation is affecting you. 

Calmly work on channels to attract your customers in several ways. Use our tips above to attract worried customers to eat your delicious food without concerns. For customers in Finland, customers really appreciate honesty and transparency. Therefore, don’t shy away from showing a message on your social pages and website that you are aware of the situation, and your team is working hard to keep everything under control: only symptom-free workers work in restaurants, checking the temperature of the staff before the shift, and the cooks are prepared with gloves etc. It may sound like an overkill, and some owners are afraid that these tactics may even make the concern grow more. Not if you state that this is just an extra precaution to make sure everything is under control.

For restaurants that are still running smoothly, this post is for you to take as reference and be prepared. You can use some of our tips above to run promotions to attract more customers and retain customers during this time.

Are you experiencing the effect of coronavirus? How are you dealing with the situation? Please share your comments with us.

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Snappmeal Blog
Snappmeal Blog

By The Snappmeal Team

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