It’s no secret that COVID-19 has ignited many challenges for the restaurant industry. From having to close dine-in service and maneuver to a takeout/delivery model, to beginning the unpredictable process of reopening and rehiring, many owners are employing creative marketing strategies to help soften the financial blows that restaurants are experiencing during coronavirus.
Take a look below to see how some of our own Rewards Network restaurant partners are implementing innovative promotions and marketing tactics that can boost revenue during these trying times.
It’s important for restaurant owners and operators to differentiate themselves from competitors with enticing offers that prompt customers to order. Choose current menu items that are low cost but have a high perceived value in guests’ eyes such as appetizers, drinks, and desserts. Tony’s DiNapoli in New York City is tapping into this exact strategy by offering half-off all bottles of wine. Similarly, Quattro’s Italian Restaurant in Guilford, CT is also promoting 50% off all wine bottles with any delivery or curbside order. Both establishments understand the value of encouraging food orders by offering a high-margin item like alcohol that has been difficult for some people to get during coronavirus.
It’s also a good idea to encourage sales during traditional non-peak hours and days as well as specials for takeout/delivery. This may include extending happy hour times, offering a lunch special, or applying a discount to takeout and delivery orders placed directly through your restaurant. Stinger’s Waterfront, located in Philadelphia, understands the burden of high costs and commission fees associated with using third-party delivery service apps for both themselves and their customers. Currently, the restaurant is offering 20% off all takeout orders, making it a sweeter deal for their bottom line and the customer’s wallet. Village Idiot Irish Pub in Oakdale, NY is also aiming to mitigate third-party fees by promoting 10% off all curbside orders and free local delivery, prompting customers to make ordering directly from the restaurant their default method. Sometimes a little understanding can go a long way in tough circumstances, which is why the Cary, NC restaurant, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, is honoring all expired gift certificates.
Many restaurants are calling on their community to help support them any way they can during the coronavirus pandemic which has put many restaurant industry employees out of work for the time being. For example, Sapori Trattoria in Chicago has started a GoFundMe page urging their supporters to help fund the restaurant’s cooks, servers, and managers. Knowing they have the ability to make a difference, some restaurants are establishing initiatives to help healthcare and essential workers.
Pita University in Tempe, AZ is accepting donations to assist their staff in delivering food to frontline medical workers and is even calling on local businesses to partner with them to expand their efforts.
Along the same lines, Asbury Park, NJ restaurant, The Gallery, is collecting donations to deliver pizza to hospital workers, while Minsky’s Pizza in Blue Springs, MO is supplying free mini pizzas for employees working essential jobs and offering a 20% discount on orders of $30 or more to encourage even more group orders and donations to these vital workers. In Racine, MI Blue Bear Bakery has chosen to donate a portion of their sales every weekend to a local organization that’s helping frontline workers. This initiative provides an ideal outlet for restaurants that want to help essential and frontline workers, but don’t have the ability to deliver food directly to them.
Special occasions and prix fixe menus
Taking a different and savvy approach, some restaurants are keying into the special events in peoples’ lives that are taking place while in isolation. Mike & Denise’s Pizzeria & Pub in Aurora, IL recognizes that it’s a bummer to have your birthday during these isolating times, so they are offering a free birthday cake or gluten-free chocolate cake martini kit with any food purchase to add some fun to the at-home celebrations.
While celebrating special milestones during COVID-19 is no easy feat, cooking regular meals for the whole family can be just as tough. Thankfully, many restaurants are solving for this consumer pain point by selling takeout family meal kits. Brasita’s Restaurant in Stamford, CT is making your at-home date nights a bit more special with a fixed-price meal for two that even includes a jar of their homemade sangria. Taco Tuesday can be every day of the week now in Marietta, GA with the 3 Amigos Mexican Bar & Grill take-home family packs that feature enough tacos, burritos, and sides for 4 – 6 people with the option to add on margaritas, sangria, and beer buckets. Take stock of what ingredients you have in surplus and determine if meal kit options are a good fit for your restaurant.
Keeping the conversation fluid and engaging between your restaurant and its customers is crucial during unpredictable situations. Use your social platforms to keep your followers informed of any pertinent news, new protocols, and ongoing promotions. Hot Head Burritos of Newark, OH is encouraging followers to leave a comment with their favorite burrito topping to be entered into a drawing to win a free burrito, while Shawnee, KS restaurant, eggtc., offered 14% off all orders to celebrate their 14-year anniversary. Utilizing your own restaurant’s major milestones as a marketing strategy is an effective way to spur increased engagement and sales for your business.
Social pages are also an ideal opportunity to implore your followers to support causes that are near and dear to your restaurant’s heart. For example, the owner of the Boston restaurant, Davio’s, created a video to support The National Restaurant Association’s “Lift Your Spirits” campaign. Also, Flavor 91 Burger Bistro in Whitehall, OH participated in a Facebook Live Q&A session featuring the Franklin County Commissioner and local restaurant owners that discussed how restaurants are staying safe and financially afloat as well as how locals can help the cause. It’s essential for restaurant owners to find out if similar forums are happening for their area and to try to get involved or, better yet, organize a live Q&A themselves with a local organization or with other neighboring restaurants.
Utilize creative solutions
COVID-19 has created a plethora of roadblocks and hardships for the restaurant industry. As a business owner, it’s vital for you to develop new and innovative ways to reach your customers and garner sales during coronavirus. Take this time as an opportunity to test different promotions and marketing tactics from offering special deals and themed meal kits to urging patrons to support your establishment and essential/frontline workers at the same time. Discover what works best for your specific business and continue to build upon that structure to incite increased revenue, customers, and brand awareness during COVID-19.
To better understand the important decisions you will need to make regarding your restaurant’s financial future, download our free e-tool, “Restaurants’ COVID-19 Emergency Loan Guide.”