Everyone was shocked with the onslaught of Covid-19 this year and the restaurant industry wasn’t spared from the massive shakeout. But no matter how destructive the impact of the pandemic to restaurant operators are, this industry would for sure cope, adapt and transform to serve up a new normal based on the changes in consumer behavior. Re-opening after the pandemic is no different to opening a new business – there would be a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Post-pandemic planning is crucial to help the industry navigate through the effects of the pandemic and be in a position to come out of it stronger and with more confidence.
Here are some strategies that would help us assess, pivot, and look for opportunities while striving to achieve continuity post-pandemic:
Review Your Market Research
You should have made your market research prior to opening your restaurant. Obviously, the demand generators based on your prior research should have changed by now with the shift in remote working and online learning, closing of tourist attractions, and less volume of people visiting malls and cinemas. As a part of post-pandemic planning, you should be looking at diversifying your customer base taking note that the slump in the economy causes consumers to spend less on the non-essentials. Restaurants should reassess their target audience and aim for a wider market capture. Attracting other demographics can also be considered.
Draw Customers from Your Competitors
Aside from going above and beyond your usual target audience prior to the pandemic, one thing that you should add in your post-pandemic planning strategies is to research your competitors and know what they have been doing to allure their customers. Look for competitors that are well-matched to succeed during this crisis and review their business model. Knowing what makes these competitors sustainable amidst the crisis would help you craft your own post-pandemic planning more easily.
Review Your Current Offerings
Expect a lot of changes on your business model as survival is the name of the game now. Post-pandemic planning would mean having changes in your menu, adding home delivery if it was not part of your offerings before, and even modifying your price point. The changes in the dining habits of the people in response to the pandemic would mean that you should be ready to set a price that would accommodate both your target audience and your bottom line.
When it comes to menu changes, you have to consider the fact that since most people are now working from home (and with students on online learning classes), home cooking is now customary. So your menu changes should revolve around meals that are not easily accessible over the lockdown and those dishes that are considered too complex for people to cook at home and are being craved by customers at this point.
Another post-pandemic planning strategy that can be used to meet the ideal price point is to re-engineer recipes in a way that you would be able to lower the cost of your ingredients without sacrificing the taste of the food. Having inexpensive substitutes won’t hurt as long as the flavor profile of your menu would not be compromised.
Other Post-Pandemic Planning Strategies
Other considerations that you need to re-visit as part of your post-pandemic planning are your suppliers (are they flexible with your new demands?), your payroll (for sure you would need to operate lean), and your new marketing strategies. While these strategies do not guarantee 100% success, especially now when everything is uncertain, a proper execution of these would for sure help your restaurant business develop continuity during this tough time and as we prepare for the new normal. What is important is you put emphasis on analyzing the current situation and you continue to look for ways on how you can improve your business.