Restaurant Success: Post-Covid - Top 5 Things To Do Now!

October 31, 2021

Congratulations!   Your restaurant/bar/nightclub is still open after 18 months of hell.  Here are the Top 5 Things You Can Do To Ensure Success in 2022!

1) Redefine Your Identity

On a core level, the pandemic has changed everyone - you, your staff and your guests.   Many things we thought were important before Covid have changed, as life slowed to a crawl and we lost some of those people closest to us.   Fear and uncertainty creates change. 

- Have your leadership team discuss what your company values are today.

- Talk with your staff about what values are important to them. 

- Declare your company values on your apparel, uniforms, website, social media and with your actions!

2) Build Family w/ Your Staff

Since the beginning of time, the hospitality industry has truly been a "gig" for most employees.  The industry consisted of low wages (albeit with tips for some), long hours and less than ideal conditions.  For many employees, their inability to leave the industry was just a lack of confidence in their ability to make life changes and learn something different.   They were truly gig workers - living day to day, trying to feed their families and survive.   They just didn't realize this reality.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed that.   The restaurant shut down made them aware of the gig-worker reality.   These employees lost their jobs, were tossed aside by the industry, tossed aside by Government and told they could live on $400/week in unemployment.  

I heard numerous "experts" discuss how resilient the hospitality industry would be post-pandemic.  The resilience of the employees went unrecognized and underappreciated.   The employees simply found other gigs.    Some found other jobs.   Some found better hustles.   Some invested in crypto and made a fortune.   They survived because that's what restaurant employees have been conditioned to do - SURVIVE!   These employees are not coming back to this industry.   They have learned that they no longer need it to survive.

The employees that did return to the hospitality industry are doing so because they are passionate about genuine hospitality and love the industry!

- Find ways to connect with them

- Find ways to support them, their families and their causes

- Find ways to appreciate them and realize appreciation isn't always financial

- Listen to them and help them provide the best experience for your guests

3. Build Real Relationships

Fact 1: Your guests have been quarantined for much of the past 18 months

Fact 2: Your guests have spent the last 18 months on Zoom/Facetime

Fact 3: Your guests are stressed at all-time high levels

Fact 4: Your guests have lost loved ones due to and during the pandemic

Fact 5: Your guests need real conversation, connection and emotion!

Do not hide in the kitchen running the Expo.   Do not let your General Manager do this either!  Go talk to your guests, converse with them and connect with them.   Learn their names, their spouse's name, their kids' names, their hobbies and what organizations they belong to.   Actually care about who they are, as they are supporting you and your staff with their money.

Your guests are visiting your restaurant to escape the reality they have witnessed for the last 18 months.   Your guests are visiting your restaurant to get out of the house and socialize.   Put significant effort into connecting with them and learning who they are.   Thank them.   Show true appreciation for their support.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching.   Have you offered to help any local organizations give back to those in your community that are in need?   Be helpful and be thankful.   Build real connections!

4. Embrace Technology

In case you didn't notice, your guests were forced to embrace technology over the last year.   They learned how to use contactless payments.    They learned how to order from a QR code.   They learned how to save their payment method and preferences via online ordering.  

The industry is transitioning and solving staffing shortages with technology.   Handhelds are becoming widely accepted; servers are realizing they can handle more tables than walking to a workstation and more tables equates to more money.   Embracing integrated online ordering significantly reduces call volumes which means less staff is needed for phone orders.   

Do you have local businesses nearby?  Have you given them their own, custom, QR code to scan and order from their office?   

Do you have a hotel nearby?   Have you approached them to put custom QR codes in their room so their guests can have the convenience of scan to order and have you deliver it directly to their room?  

Embracing technology will result in 10-15% increase in the average check size and an equal decrease in staffing costs - which increasing tips for the staff you still need!

5. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

The restaurant with the best food and service doesn't always win.   The restaurant/bar/nightclub/comedy club that does the best job with their advertising and marketing always wins!

The chain restaurant have proven that quality and service have nothing to do with success - they simply are out marketing everyone.    Restaurant success in 2022 and beyond is 90% dependent on how well you can market, advertise and influence on social media.

Marketing and advertising doesn't have to be expensive.   

- Allow your staff to help design and curate your social media content, but speak with your voice.

- Highlight your staff - who they are and what they do for you.

- Highlight your guests - not just sitting at the table/bar, but what causes are important to them.

- Support your community.

- Be fun and be genuine

- Don't post your daily specials on social media; you will get turned off.

- Create content that can be shared by your staff and guests

- Create content that is important to your community and its organizations

- Be likeable and genuine