Needless to say, the ongoing global health crisis has changed the world over in more ways than one. However, if there is one sector that’s taking the brunt of it all, it would have to be the restaurants and food service industry. Since the onset of the outbreak, over 26,160 restaurants have been forced to close their doors in order to promote social distancing and hamper the spread of the virus. Of that number, nearly 16,000 have already ceased operations permanently because the losses caused by the crisis have become unbearable.

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Of course, while some restaurants have closed down, there are still some that have resolved to continue operations and weather the storm. Fortunately, some of them have been lucky enough to receive assistance from the government. Additionally, treasury secretary Steven Terner Mnuchin also mentioned that the administration has a specific aid program in the works for small businesses such as restaurants. If you are one of those restaurants keen on enduring the pandemic, here are some of the changes you can employ to ensure that your business continues to attract customers even in the new normal:

Automate Processes and Go Contactless

Despite the fact that there are no statements or warnings released by the World Health Organization regarding the use of cash, there is no denying the fact that that fiat currency is capable of housing hundreds of millions of bacteria and viruses. After all, the lifespan of a single bill can range from four to 15 years, so you can only imagine how many germs a bill could accumulate during its lifetime. This reality makes it imperative for restaurants to go contactless and cashless. Thankfully, there are a lot of technologies out there that can support the transition to contactless payments. In addition to introducing non-traditional payment methods, it would also be a good idea for restaurateurs to automate processes such as ordering. These simple steps will not only significantly reduce friction points but also shorten wait times, limit human error and even improve financial management and workflow.

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Now, more than ever, restaurants have to pay more attention to their online marketing strategies. This is because the current situation of the world has caused virtually everyone to become highly reliant on their connected devices for food, work, education and much more. If this strategy is something that is entirely new to you and your business, the easiest way to start is by making full use of different social media sites and claiming your profile on Google My Business, Yelp and TripAdvisor. If you already have these all covered, now might be the perfect time for you to invest and learn about some of the more advanced online and digital marketing strategies such as SEO and content marketing. And to really help bolster your online presence and drive more delivery and pick up orders, a FoodBoss listing can go a long way towards boosting your restaurant's visibility among consumers looking for restaurants like yours in your city.

Simplify Operations

The unique conditions caused by the ongoing global health crisis have required restaurants to take a step back, regroup and simplify operations. One of the best ways this can be done is by changing up the menu. By focusing on only the most popular seller, it would be easier and faster to produce dishes with limited staff. Managing the inventory and placing orders for ingredients would also be a breeze. Aside from limiting the menu, it would also be a good idea for your restaurant to rethink how your best-sellers are served in order to fit the times. For instance, you can think about offering a healthy grain bowl that showcases your core meals. Batch cooking grain bowls is easy with rice cookers. These tools can both cook rice and steam vegetables and even meat or fish to yield several servings at a time. This makes them an especially margin-friendly product. In addition to this, customers can also benefit from buying a customizable meal that can be easily reheated at home and is packed with a myriad of nutrients.

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Offer Promotions and Improve Merchandising

In order to fill the gaps caused by the dramatic decrease in traffic and maximize revenue, restaurants all over the globe are turning to various merchandising and promotion tactics to keep their customers. However, it’s important to remember that these tactics are not just about offering discounts, new bundles and free delivery options. You should also try to zoom in on a lot of other factors including ease of ordering, food safety and sanitation. It would also be in your best interest to pay close attention to the story your brand is telling and to initiatives your restaurant is trying to do in support of the community. If there is one good thing that sprung from the pandemic, that would be the society’s renewed fervor over community building and camaraderie. Make sure to tap into this as this will help foster greater consumer loyalty.

Opening a restaurant is hard. Maintaining one is even harder. So just imagine how much more difficult it could be in the face of an ongoing crisis. Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to ensure that your business withstands the difficult times. You can automate processes and go contactless, bolster online marketing strategies, simplify operations and offer promotions and improve merchandising.

Article contributed by Taylor Conner

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