The restaurant industry and food outlets continue to be in a state of transition in 2021 as the effects of COVID-19 and its variants impact state mandates (i.e. New York’s September proof of vaccination for indoor dining policy) and customers’ behaviors (i.e. contactless payment, delivery, curbside pick, etc.).
Over the past 18 months, both consumer and market demands have brought about the rapid adoption of technologies to create alternative channels for revenue that address restrictions for in-person dining as well as health and safety concerns. While there has been much to cope with, new opportunities are also present.
To successfully move ahead brands need to understand the new marketplace and adjust their communication and marketing strategy in order to preserve a strong customer base.
Deliver Timely Communication to all Stakeholders
- Develop a communications plan that provides a cadence for information that addresses the needs of headquarter employees, local franchisees/store managers and team members, who are your front-line ambassadors
- Deliver up-to-date information on the topics of managing employee health, personal hygiene for employees, enhanced food preparation and operation safety protocols, new customer interaction guidelines, and established food pick-up and delivery safe practices
- Maintain a two-way dialogue so franchisees and store managers can provide insight into local government mandates that may differ from the national government during the reentry phase
Build Trust Across all Channels
- Continue emphasizing new cleanliness and safety protocols through digital channels as well as with local store signage
- Deliver customer-first messages through an omnichannel approach including, email, text, push notification, and social. Important Reminder – Remember to reschedule any previously discontinued campaigns, such as birthday messages that should restart with the reentry phase
- Gather, act on, and measure customer feedback to keep a pulse of changing customer sentiment and expectations during your restaurant’s recovery and reopening for dine-in
Refresh Website Content
- Provide transparency into the new health and safety procedures you’ve implemented for employees, food and business operations, and guest interactions
- Highlight each location’s current options for dining-in, online ordering for order ahead or for carry-out, curbside delivery, or contactless delivery
Update Google My Business (GMB) Listing Pages
- Include current operating hours and available food service options
- As temporarily closed locations reopen, reinstate your hours
- Continue to check in with GMB as they have announced review replies are now available and that Q&A will gradually return by country and business category. They’re also gradually publishing delayed user reviews and photos submitted to Google Maps.
Create Digital Campaigns
- Invest in digital campaigns to match the emphasis on digital operations your restaurant has been pursuing
- When your restaurant is reopening for dining-in, create digital campaigns that welcome your guests back and highlight your new health and safety guidelines. Get creative with incentives to drive customers to dine-in again.
- Show appreciation for all your customers and continue to provide food service options that meet the needs of those guests still looking for contactless payment and delivery.
Leverage & Monitor Social Media
- Use social media broadcast posts to update customers on new dining-in operations and hours
- Continue to provide branded content to further build your following, for example share how-to or recipes using your menu items
- Add additional keywords related to your reopening such as #dinelocal, #reopen, and #welcomeback
Analyze Paid Search and Paid Social
- Monitor changes to state and local government dining-in mandates as more states are allowed to reopen search results will be impacted and adjustments will need to be made
- Brands with international locations need to consider how to shift marketing dollars based on changing countries’ recovery and reopening processes
- Automation may be lagging behind trends and you should consider switching to a manual process giving yourself the most control so your dollars are put to work in the most efficient way possible
By aligning communication strategies across all channels and setting strict health and safety standards company-wide, brands can draw a loyal customer base that will help them recover from the pandemic and position themselves for continued success.
Visit our Punchh Platform page for more customer loyalty and marketing information to help keep your business growing.