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7 Best Practices for Restaurants to Survive, and Even Thrive, in 2021

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Marketing Director

This past year has left many restaurant owners shell-shocked. And this new year has started out with a smorgasbord of the same challenges. But there were a number of eateries that survived — and even thrived — last year and are serving up success right into 2021.

How’d they do it? For many, it was with a combo dish of best practices and winning strategies. Here’s how your restaurant can sizzle this year with that recipe.

1. Take advantage of the CARES Act to allow leftover money for marketing

Unless you’re going to tack cardboard signs to telephone poles, it’s hard to market without money. That’s where the The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 can help. Those names might be a mouthful, but it’ll pay to be well-versed in how these acts can benefit many aspects of your business. Learn more from the U.S. Treasury Department and JD Supra and talk to your CPA.

2. Boost your profit margin by shaving down one of your most persistent expenses

Nothing drains your finances like a slow leak that never gets fixed. If you’re paying too much for your payment processor, then you’re watching your extra money for marketing and outreach swirl down the drain every month. Lower your payment processing rate by taking advantage of some of the lowest processing rates we’ve seen in a long time. Processors are competing for your business right now, but it’s important to connect to a reputable processor who will find you a lower rate so your money can go back to your bottom line.

3. Increase sales by allowing customers to order online — it’s a necessity

Once you’ve limited your financial leakage, it’s time to increase your sales by casting a wider net. Does your website allow customers to order online? It’s time to get a web developer to turn your site into an online marketplace. Placing food orders online was huge in 2020, and a whole segment of the market has now become accustomed to it. Check out these statistics from Upserve to see just how much online food ordering exploded in 2020. Food delivery services like Uber Eats and DoorDash offer online ordering for restaurants that don’t have their own ecommerce site, but the processing rates and fees are so high that it makes it hard for a business to stay in the black. You can make more money if customers can order food directly from your site rather than someone else’s.

4. Do more on social media — your customers are hungry to hear from you

Your patrons — and potential customers — will greatly appreciate seeing new posts on your social media channels. Whether it’s a post about the daily special, a new menu item, a holiday closure, or just something fun, people want to know that you survived 2020. And they’re seeking a mouth-watering reason to choose your place for their next meal. Keep in mind that with all the social distancing regulations, people are hungrier than ever to have some sense of meaningful connection to the things they love. That’s the first step. The next step is to draw in a wave of new customers with a winning social media strategy. 

5. Never miss a call — it’s never been more important to capture every ring

Seating capacity is limited these days, and a good chunk of your customers aren’t comfortable eating inside a restaurant. With so many people dining at home these days, missing their phone call can be as detrimental to your business as ignoring them if they were standing in your lobby. Thankfully, there are creative strategies out there for keeping calls from going unanswered. For instance, there are outsourced receptionist services that only charge per connected minute. And some allow you to adjust your call script on demand. The services vary a lot, though, but we can help you navigate those waters to make sure you’re getting a good rate.

6. Stay in contact with your patrons and keep them coming back

Do you have a smart POS system? If so, you may be sitting on a gold mine and not even know it. These systems allow you to capture customers’ contact information. Use that lifeline to send out automated emails and texts to make announcements, offer coupons, and make them crave your food. Stay in contact with your customers so that you’re on their mind when the hunger hits. If you don’t have a smart POS system and are overwhelmed with how to even start the process of getting one, we’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

7. Consider getting help with policy compliance and time management — the fun stuff

No one starts a restaurant because they love the challenge of complying with state and federal policies. That burden became an even bigger headache in 2020. That’s why some business owners are using external HR companies. They can also manage workers’ comp, unemployment, payroll taxes, and other HR issues for you for as low as $100/month per employee. If you didn’t have to focus on these things, think about how much more time you’d have to focus on the parts of running a business that you love. 

It’s one thing to hear great advice. It’s another thing to have time to actually implement it. If you have any interest in implementing any of these best practices or strategies — or all of them — we’d be happy to provide you a free 30-minute consultation to point you in the right direction to help you make these goals a reality.

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