The negative impact of the unexpected pandemic has suddenly and almost entirely shuttered restaurants across the country. Mandatory lock down, people fear of close contact, empty dining rooms, the enhanced sanitary measures, and safety protocols have changed the industry that employs more than 15 million people, and was projected to do $899 billion in sales this year.
While the big chains and fast feeders seem better positioned to weather mandated change of operation, the small family businesses, mom and pop restaurants, and low-margin, high end restaurants are not predicted to thrive.
The Open Table predicts that a quarter of American restaurants will go out of business before the pandemic passes. That is due to a total loss of $80 billion that hit the industry over March and April because of the social distancing closures that will continue for the foreseeable future in some fashion.
Earlier this week, reservations and walk-ins at restaurants on Open Table were down 95 percent year-over-year.
The solution: no restaurant owner should fall into this prediction unless they choose not to do something about it.
Focusing on solutions to work with authentic marketing strategies, and applying these strategies in creative ways that work hand in hand with the unusual situation of the pandemic and people new perception of social distancing is the only way to stay in business, overcome the pandemic challenge, and stay ahead.
Every penny invested in this solution is not a loss but it is the dollar that will get the restaurant owner ahead, professionally, and financially, on the short and long-term.
While people may be afraid of close contact, there will always be a need for meals, a passion for food, a desire to dine out and enjoy a delicious meal. It is a matter of renewing the strategies to connect the facts of fear, need, and desire to create the new way of doing business.
Delivery, online ordering, change of menus, creating food that can't be made at home, and offering services at different levels are a few of the changes that can help a restaurant stay in business. However, unless these changes are formed into a solid marketing strategy, action will be random, causing more financial harm than good.
We expect to see restaurants who adapt to the change and create newer strategies emerge from the pandemic better placed.