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Resilience is the key: here’s how we can get through changing times

Restaurants across Canada are doing everything they can to navigate recent uncertainty and change. These types of businesses are no stranger to resilience: they have creativity in their DNA. At a time when increasingly strict health and safety measures are coming into play with barely any notice, restaurants need to flex their adaptability muscle more than ever. Here’s how.

Communicate with clients to help them feel safe

Transparency breeds trust

People need to feel safe more than ever: a survey conducted in late March1 found that consumers are prioritizing cleanliness and trust when choosing which restaurant to order from. They also favour local businesses, and restaurants that care about their employees. We know that your restaurant makes every effort to ensure food safety and customer satisfaction in every situation – and due to the current social climate, sharing those measures with the public is sure to go a long way. To instill confidence, write an honest, encouraging message to let your clients know you are doing everything in your power to keep them safe (you can even put together a video message). Share it through your digital channels and keep it updated as things change. In this message, share detailed measures that you have put in place. Examples include: 

  • Using a surface disinfectant containing at least 70 percent of alcohol to kill germs effectively
  • Routinely cleaning high-touch surfaces like counters, doorknobs and payment terminals
  • Increasing the frequency of your cleaning and sanitizing efforts
  • Allowing a limited number of people inside your establishment for pick-up orders
  • Frequently washing your hands with soap, since it eliminates more germs and microbes than hand sanitizer
  • Educating every member of your staff on health and safety practices (including your delivery drivers!)

Even if you’re not currently open, you should maintain your online presence to keep your connection with customers alive. Share positive messages, inspiring ideas, acts of kindness, pictures of your food, and recipes people can try at home. In short, get diners excited about coming to see you when you reopen.

Don't just say it, show it

If your restaurant is still accepting pick-up orders, you can also showcase some in-house safety and hygiene measures to reassure your diners. These efforts can include:

  • Washing your hands in front of customers before making their food
  • Putting on gloves
  • Keeping a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol content visible and accessible
  • Putting stickers on the floor that indicate where customers should stand to keep the appropriate distance
  • Politely asking people to respect said stickers to protect others
  • Removing shared condiments or self-served stations (for drinks, condiments or utensils)

There are so many simple ways to demonstrate your commitment to everyone’s health and safety. It’s also important to think ahead: even after the social distancing measures are lifted, people will continue to be cautious about their health, so it’s important to establish your restaurant as a safe place.

Focus on delivery

If you already offer delivery, spread the word using your digital channels. Publish messages on your restaurant’s social media pages about delivery, make sure the information is clearly displayed on your website and adjust your Google My Business profile. You can even reach out to local restaurant blogs or neighbourhood pages to share your message.

Use a good quality picture of your food or establishment, add details on how to place an order and don’t forget to mention the efforts you are making to keep deliveries secure. Talk about:

  • Using safe cooking methods, like baking pizzas at 500 degrees Fahrenheit and transferring them directly in the box with a paddle
  • Offering customers to pre-pay their order and tip online to eliminate contact at the door
  • Encouraging the use of the tap feature of credit and debit cards if the order is paid at the door
  • Disinfecting your hands and payment terminal after every delivery
  • Washing your delivery bag with a cleaning solution effective against germs and microbes between every run
  • Increasing the frequency of vehicles cleaning
  • Offering secure drop-offs by leaving the food at the door before ringing the bell
  • Going the extra-mile: some restaurants offer tamper-proof delivery containers equipped with a seal

If you don’t currently offer delivery, this is the time to try third-party delivery apps, which are quick to set up and provide fantastic visibility for local restaurants.

Adapt your menu as much as possible

Many food items, like pizza, are naturally well-suited for off-premise consumption. They require minimal contact during preparation and are popular choices for ordering in. If pizza isn’t doable for you, simply focus on best-selling dishes that hold up well during delivery for now.

If business is slower than usual, create new opportunities

Try cooking up ready-to-eat menu items in large batches that you can sell by the portion. Think chillies, lasagnas, and sandwiches. People are trying to minimize how often they go out to buy food: some want to avoid the lines at grocery stores, and many others are balancing working from home while taking care of their kids. Buying a few days’ worth of comforting, tasty food from a local business is a great way to take the pressure off. You can even take orders in advance and plan your workload ahead.

Now more than ever, Saputo Foodservice is dedicated to serving your evolving needs. You can give us a call if you need menu support or general guidance, and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest industry tips, tricks, and trends. We also recommend visiting our new COVID-19 Resource Centre: there, you’ll find constantly updated information curated by our in-house experts and Market Insights team.

 

1 Kantar US, 360 Sense, March 24, 2020.

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