7 Experts Share Their Top Advice for Restaurants Impacted By The Coronavirus Outbreak28 March 2020
This article is part of Raydiant’s Coronavirus Small Business Resource Center which aims to provide actionable insights, ideas, and resources to business owners struggling due to the current Coronavirus outbreak.
We’ve collaborated with different executives, business owners, and thought leaders to crowdsource insights and expertise that will ensure this content is as actionable, timely, and helpful as possible.
If you are a business owner looking for a specific question to be answered or if you an expert and would like to have your insights included, please email Emilia@Raydiant.com.
What advice do you have for restaurants impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak?
ERIC JAMES CACCIATORE, FOUNDER AND HOST OF THE RESTAURANT UNSTOPPABLE PODCAST
"Stop the bleeding. Postpone or eliminate your biggest expenses. Call your landlord and vendors- ask for extensions."
Did you layoff or furlough employees? Get a new insurance rate to reflect how many current employees you have. It’s amazing how flexible people are being. Everyone understands. Ask for help.
Once you get as lean as possible run a 12-week cash flow budget. That budget will help you make the best decisions.
Communicate with your team members and guests. It’s ok if you don’t have answers, saying, “I don’t know” is better than saying nothing at all.
Don’t forget that business is all about relationships. Even though the cash flow has stopped, your relationships need to continue. People need each other more than ever right now. If you’re there for the community now, they’ll help you rebuild later.
KELLY RICHARDSON, OWNER AND FOUNDER OF VENONE
"Clear communication. More important than the message, is that it is clear. Our channels of communication are so cluttered right now with information, that it is important to be clear, concise, and reliable. Don’t communicate future plans, i.e. we will have pepperoni and sausage pizza tomorrow, unless that pepperoni and sausage is in hand already. It’s important that your clients can depend on your messages. Put the bulk of your information that needs to be shared on your website and direct links back to it. Your customers are paying attention to what you say and what you do. If you are saying you are cleaning, make sure you are doing it. If you are offering contactless pick-up, make sure that you are doing that as well. Walk your talk. Customers are also very interested in how businesses are handling reduced hours for employees, so don’t be afraid to talk about what you are doing to keep everyone working and fed."
MARY KING, RESTAURANT VETERAN & HOSPITALITY ANALYST AT FITSMALLBUSINESS.COM
"Restaurants should stay open— in whatever form is feasible– as long as they can. Restaurants can shift to take-out and delivery of a limited menu, or to retail style sales like the Whiskey Cake family of restaurants has done. This allows owners to run through food inventory that would otherwise spoil."
There are several options for online ordering and delivery. If a restaurant owner doesn’t like the terms of the contract required to work with third-party delivery apps, they can quickly add an online menu to their website and organize deliveries through a dispatching app. Websites that are hosted on Wordpress can easily add plug-ins like GloriaFood or RestroPress to enable online orders directly.
Dispatching apps like Mobi2go and Tookan allow restaurants to get an efficient delivery operation running. The best part about many of these apps is that they operate with monthly subscriptions, rather than annual contracts, which offers a lot of flexibility for restaurants.
ELLEN FORD, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST, WOMPLY
"One, look into emergency funding options – there are many. For businesses that are experiencing a revenue loss during this time, the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program will provide small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. Additionally, the Stimulus 2020 program will provide SMBs a $1,000 loan for no fee or interest."
Two, as people are receiving guidance from national authorities to stay indoors and away from crowds, you may need to get a little creative if you want to keep business going at this time. Offer delivery services or curbside pickup to your customers to encourage more sales and keep providing quality service.
JONATHAN BERNSTEIN, CHAIRMAN AND FOUNDER OF BERNSTEIN CRISIS MANAGEMENT, INC.
"Your operation’s only as good as its weakest link. Know your weakest links, the ways in which the virus could most likely impact your workforce and customers – and then mitigate. Also, check your backup plans. Do you have backups for people in critical positions who might fall ill? Backups for critical supplies that might be in short supply?"
All communications, internal and external, must be made with COMPASSION. With everyone on edge, facts won’t be retained as well if you don’t deal with feelings first.
CHRIS HILL, CHEF, RESTAURANT OWNER, AUTHOR, AND SPEAKER
"Ramp up or launch to go delivery business and utilize FOH employees to fill such roles."
Your customers want to support you and your organization, not some 3rd party app — and it minimizes the number of hands the food is transferred through.
MING TSAI, CHEF AND OWNER OF BLUE DRAGON
"Offer no-contact to go and delivery. Make family-style meals, make them affordable, and make lots so you can feed your staff that is not working."
If you have the means, bring some staff back to do the maintenance we never have time for: painting, re-doing the bar, tighten chairs and stools, deep clean the kitchen, etc.
Tell laid off staff to look at grocery stores and Amazon, UberEats, Dominoes/etc as they are hiring.