5 Ways Restaurants can be More Profitable While Reopening

Photo by Michael Browning on Unsplash

Reopening during or after any disaster can be difficult even at the best of times. The pandemic offers new challenges that nobody is prepared for. While trying to serve fearful and often more cash-strapped customers, restaurants must do so while handcuffed in capacity and procedure due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.

Here are five tips that any restaurant can implement to increase profits.

Rethink Menus

Menus are one of the first points of contact with your restaurant and its food. Some restaurants may entice customers with showy décor or well-crafted ambiance but the pandemic pushes the food and menu to the forefront of customer’s considerations.

Almost all restaurants now rely on the mobile and online ordering to some degree with foot traffic down. Here is an in-depth guide on how to craft a profitable online menu.

One design concept to consider for the perfect pandemic menu is to reduce your menu. Prioritize menu items that can travel well from 30 minutes up to an hour in some cases depending on delivery distance and the delivery person. To minimize spoilage consider packaging certain menu items separately, keeping dry and wet items separate as well as hot and cold items. Some items may also benefit from reheating instructions.

Menus should also prioritize high-margin items and retire low-performing or low-margin items.

Restaurants should also take changing customer bases into account when rebuilding a menu. Many restaurants rely on tourism or food that appeals to foot traffic but as eating out becomes more deliberate restaurants should appeal to their new customer base. Family-style meals are becoming very popular as families eat meals together at home far more frequently during a pandemic.

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Photo by SJ Baren on Unsplash

Creative Inventory

Cost of ingredients is one of the few fixed costs restaurants have to worry about. Eliminating poorly performing menu items to reduce the number of ingredients needed at any given moment is one way to bring down inventory costs.

Another way to reduce inventory costs is to be creative with ingredients. If possible, restaurants can cater their menu to use overlapping ingredients. For instance, ground beef can be used in a variety of ways. The more dishes that can be created with the same ingredients the less overall costs will be. It will decrease the amount of ingredient variety restaurants need to order, store and prepare but it will also help keep costs down with bulk ordering. Generally, the more of a single ingredient or product a restaurant can order at once the greater the discounts vendors will provide.

Community Communication and Outreach

Building a network to easily keep your fans up to date is essential during the pandemic where customers will have minimal exposure to your business outside ordering.

Due to the pandemic, there are constantly shifting health and safety guidelines restaurants must follow, often with little to no warning. State mandates like closures of certain businesses can change on an hourly basis, customers need to know what your restaurant is doing in response to COVID-19.

Social media is a great way to connect with people online. It may also serve as a way for customers to get information on hours, new menus, promotions, and any community outreach.

As a marketing tool, social media is free and can be a great way to gain exposure. To actively grow an audience frequent and regular posting is recommended with high quality, possibly professional, pictures to draw attention to your restaurant. Social media is also a great way to highlight individual meals which can temporarily boost sales of an underperforming menu item.

But social media also works well just as a news hub for customers.

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Photo Courtesy eatOS

Technology

Despite the significant downturn in the industry, this may be the perfect time to upgrade restaurant operations to a more modern and technology-oriented business.

High initial costs may make it seem like it’s impossible to upgrade but there are many comprehensive and low-cost options that restaurants can take advantage of.

Services that make third party delivery apps obsolete are essential for any restaurant. Third-party delivery platforms charge commission rates as high as 30% per order. With restaurants operating on thin margins, that commission structure is unsustainable.

Services like eatOS provide restaurants the backend structure that provides robust mobile and online ordering to customers that ditch third-party platforms without giving up discoverability or a high-quality user experience. Restaurants can have fully functional and personalized websites and apps without the headache of hiring a designer or someone to manage and maintain the technology.

Technology can also be used to speed up the front and back of house. POS systems and KDS are comprehensive and interconnected screens that can take orders and send them immediately to the kitchen to fire an order. Less time wasted means more orders that can go out to customers.

More interconnected technology also means fewer mistakes due to human error. Unreadable tickets, disorganized ordering systems and misheard call outs are a thing of the past with the right technology. No more remaking meals or unhappy customers that cost money.

All that technology can also track data and analytics. Immediately and accurately your costs, revenue, menu item popularity, crucial business statistics and data over time. Get everything you need to make smart business decisions.

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Photo by Megan Thomas on Unsplash

Local and Farm to Table isn’t just Trendy

Local and farm to table have been popular buzz words in the restaurant industry for years but they may actually be necessary during the pandemic. Restaurants face shortages on all sides, from ingredients to customers. It’s easy to rely on established connections from well-known national suppliers but sourcing from local vendors and farms is a great way to get everything you need while also boosting the local community.

Ingredient shortages are usually not a result of farms not having enough product but simply a broken supply chain with no way to get the produce to where they need to be. This is solved by partnering with local businesses that can work directly with a restaurant to provide everything they need.

Partnering with local businesses may also result in unique and specialty items not found anywhere else. Restaurants need any edge they need to stand out against the competition. Digital orders have enabled many restaurants to stay afloat but the competition is even fiercer when a customer can easily order from 10 similar restaurants. Offering local and specialty items help differentiate a restaurant from other local businesses.

Local businesses are also often more willing to provide personal attention and expertise to smaller restaurants.

These are some tips that can help any restaurant big or small to build a more profitable business.

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