Social Distancing: What Should I Do With A Room Full of Empty Tables?

It’s already here and it will get worse. Not so much the Coronavirus itself, but the fear that comes from a worried public. We are told that “Social Distancing” is the new hot word and self-quarantining is socially responsible. So how should a restaurant and bar owner prepare for the coming downturn? With a few changes to the cleaning procedures, an emphasis on pick-up sales and social media blasts, this storm can be weathered. Tough decisions lie ahead, but they can be managed if acted upon quickly. You can survive this.

Because your restaurant would be full on a normal Saturday night, it doesn’t mean you can’t still make sales. You need to shift your focus to online and call-in orders for the bulk of your sales. POS software, like our Total Restaurant POS, already has an integrated on-line ordering feature that customers can access through a web link or QR code from their cell phones. The orders print right to the kitchen, no middle man needed. Use Social Media to advertise to your customer that your business is still open and can take call-in orders. Focusing on call-in orders might require you to add an extra POS station for a designated order taker. By designating a curbside attendant to manage and run the curbside orders to customers waiting in their cars you are encouraging social distancing. Depending on your business’s circumstances and the local impact of the pandemic fears, you could consider turning some of your employees into delivery drivers. Work to get your food to your customers where they are, and sales won’t take a big hit.

With limited contact the general public will have with your restaurant now, cleaning still needs to be a top priority. Any place customers will access should be wiped down constantly. This should also apply to items not normally cleaned like doors, pin pads and pens. If you choose to implement delivery drivers, require them to wash their hands after returning from each delivery. Let your customers know what all you have done to ensure that they have a safe clean dining experience.

Cash flow will become an issue at some point, but one way to mitigate this is by promoting gift card deals. Offer deals like a discount on a $25 gift card purchase for $15-$20. It will allow you to float income until the fear of the Coronavirus has passed and it will get your customers to “invest” in your business as they look forward to using it. With the Worldpay Store Card Program, you can sell gift cards on-line that integrate into the smart wallets in your customer’s smartphones. You can use your Social Media to promote your gift card deals. Use your Social Media to keep your customers aware that your business is still open and have taken steps to ensure their safety. Post pics of your employees deep cleaning the counters and doors at pick-up locations. Show customers that you are doing all that you can do to accommodate them in these trying times and ask for them to have patience and understanding as well.

The road will not be easy, changes need to be made immediately. By putting in the effort and implementing some, if not all, the recommendations here you can give your business the best chance at overcoming this downturn from the Coronavirus. It will be hard but you can do this! If you would like more information on Total Restaurant POS or Worldpay Store Card contact Total Merchant Supply today.

As always, we are here to help. Let us know if you have any questions.

Total Merchant Supply is a POS Dealer based in Charlotte, NC.

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