There’s no denying that this year has been especially difficult for restaurants. Faced with forced restrictions on indoor dining options, many have struggled to stay afloat. Some have found success through the use of innovation and adaptability. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will go back to normal before winter sets in. This means that your restaurant will have to take steps to make sure it can make it through the winter in the meantime.
Marketing and Advertising
Now, more than ever, your restaurant needs to use effective marketing and advertising methods to encourage customers to come to your restaurant. Make sure you take advantage of digital marketing methods that can attract customers in your niche. Reach out to your customer base on social media and run targeted ads to improve your visibility. Remember to claim your local business listings. Keep them updated with your contact information and current operating hours. Don’t forget to ask for reviews!
Few things attract shoppers to businesses like holiday deals and promotions. Restaurants can take advantage of that inclination by running some promotions of their own during the holiday season. Many find success in offering gift card promotions. Gift cards can make great gifts for family and friends. As an added bonus, they can be a way to spread the word about your business. Those buying gift cards may be giving them to people who have never been to your restaurant before. This gives you the chance to increase your customer base. While you’ll be getting the money upfront when the card is purchased, customer experience is still important. if you make sure the customer has an amazing experience, they’ll likely be willing to return and pay for another meal.
Takeout and Delivery
If you haven’t already implemented takeout and delivery options for your restaurant, you really should. Holidays are busy times for people. It’s practically guaranteed that there will be nights when cooking dinner at home just isn’t a desirable option. With dine-in options being considered less safe, offering takeout and delivery can provide your customers with convenience. You don’t have to offer both if you don’t want to, but carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding either are off the table.
Safe Dining Options
While some places are allowing customers to dine in at restaurants, it’s generally considered to be less safe than dining outside. Winter isn’t generally considered ideal weather conditions for eating outside, but there are ways you can make that a more attractive option. Make sure you provide some sort of overhead shelter to keep precipitation from impacting the food and your guests. A source of heat is a must. There are lots of fun options you can use to keep your guests warm. Fire tables and portable heating options can be good ways to get the job done. Some of your options are likely to be fueled by propane tanks. There are several good reasons to own your own propane tanks. Alternatively, you can rent them.
A Plan for Power Outages
Cold weather and winter storms are often the culprits behind winter power outages. Power outages can cause serious problems for your restaurant. You won’t have a way to heat your restaurant, run most of the appliances you need to prepare your food, or have a way to keep your food at safe holding temperatures. Make sure you’re prepared for power outages by having a plan in place for them and training your employees on how to execute it correctly. Have a physical copy of the plan written down and stored somewhere safe with other emergency protocol. Of course, the hope is that you never have to put your plan into action, but it’s far better to have one and not need it than to need it and not have one. This can save you a lot of money in terms of your food cost. Hopefully you can mitigate the problem so you don’t have to waste a lot of food.
Interior Climate Control
Whether they are dining inside or outside your restaurant, the comfort of your customers and your employees should be a priority. It’s important to make sure your dining area is warm enough that your guests will be able to enjoy their food. Of course, cranking up the heat might feel nice in the dining area, but that can make conditions in the kitchen quite uncomfortable. Your kitchen staff are slaving away over grills, around ovens, and over stovetops. Those generate quite a lot of heat by themselves. Add the heat from your furnace system, and it can get unpleasantly warm quite quickly. A zoned heating system that allows you to customize how much you heat what area is ideal, but if that’s not an option, portable cooling units can work as well.
Snow and Ice Removal
If your restaurant is located in an area prone to icy or snowy conditions, you need to have a plan for snow and ice removal. You may have a service that handles snow removal for you, but that may not do you much good if you experience snowfall in the middle of the day. Have some good snow shovels on hand that you can use to clear the walkways if needed. Keep an eye out for any puddles that might form as customers walk in. Your restaurant can be held liable for injuries that happen on the premises. Make sure you take the appropriate precautions to prevent slips and falls.
Restaurants will need to be proactive if they’re going to survive a COVID-19 winter. Make sure your restaurant uses effective advertising and marketing techniques to bring customers in. Keep customers safe by taking advantage of takeout and delivery options, and providing safe dining options. Of course, there’s always the regular important seasonal weather considerations to take into account as well. It’s a lot to keep up on, but doing so can help your business navigate this winter and make it through to the other side.