How Restaurants Can Diversify to Account for Unexpected and Sudden Changes in Consumer Behavior
In the restaurant business, sometimes unpredictable events can occur that disrupt everyday life. Things like pandemics, natural disasters, and other types of crises can turn everything on its head and present significant and unforeseen challenges to both consumers and businesses, not to mention a further toll on the economy.
When unexpected events like this arise and restaurants are caught without a plan in place, it affects more than just profits. You can face a loss of customers, food safety concerns or serious inventory waste. If it is serious enough, you could end up unable to pay employees who depend on you for their living, or unable to serve customers who depend on you for meals.
In 2016, 55 people were infected in two E. coli outbreaks after eating at Chipotle. While the outbreaks were confined to those two locations, the widespread public fear caused significant losses in profits to the industry, let alone that particular chain. It resulted in significant damage to the brand, leading to a long and difficult recovery process.
Now is the perfect time to consider how your restaurant can operate should an unexpected event hinder or discourage people from visiting your store.
Consider the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and previous outbreaks of unfamiliar diseases. While the current chances of being infected by the virus are low, the fear of the unknown is causing a consumer panic that may have very real repercussions upon the economy.
Are you prepared for what can happen when consumer confidence is low and unexpected issues cause sudden changes in consumer behavior? If not, here are a few ways you can diversify your business and be prepared:
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Offer a Variety of Ordering and Delivery Options
Regardless of the scenario, customers today want options. Providing these options not only makes your customers happy, but also protects your business should unexpected events arise that cause changes in consumer behavior. Protect revenue and drive customer loyalty during these uncertain times with these changing guest ordering expectations. View our on-demand webinar now.
The more options and different avenues you offer, the more of a chance you have in case of a sudden incident disrupting your restaurant.
The goal here is to reach the widest audience possible, and offering a variety of ordering options does just that. Customers should be able to order their food:
- In your restaurant
- Over the phone
- On your website
- On your app
- On third-party ordering platforms
The more options you offer, the more likely you are of not only increasing sales and broadening your audience, but also protecting your businesses in case sudden shifts in behaviors arise.
What would happen if your third-party partners put a halt to their services because of an unexpected event? You’d still want to give your customers multiple options so they can order from you in other ways, like pickup or take out. If you only offer one option, you will be without a solution if that option is no longer viable.
It’s no secret that delivery is booming. Restaurant delivery is projected to grow at more than three times the rate of on-premise sales by 2023. The convenience and ability for customers to remain at home is very appealing to consumers today, and can be even more significant in case of a sudden event.
Similar to ordering, customers should have options for receiving their food:
- Eat in your restaurant
- Pickup at your restaurant
- Get orders delivered
Should an unexpected event arise that causes customers to not want to leave their homes—like in the case of poor weather or an outbreak of a disease—you need to have a backup plan to serve these customers. Offering delivery both in-house and through third-party services can also help increase your reach and protect your business.
As the coronavirus becomes more of a nuisance, HungerRush has implemented a “no-contact delivery” feature updates available in our POS, Online Ordering platform and soon available for our mobile app customers, we also partner with DoorDash – which offers restaurants the ability to leverage DoorDash drivers to deliver to their customers as a white labeled service – this is especially helpful for those that may have to let go staff or need to reduce overhead due to the current crisis. The best part is you retain your customer data.
Leverage a Restaurant Mobile App
An integrated mobile app provides an additional ordering avenue for your customers. It also is a great way to stay connected with your customers and remain top of mind. You can use it to send push notifications when you have important announcements or updates, like letting customers know your business is still open and operating during a crisis.
For example, after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, many customers struggled to find information on which restaurants were open for business. Push notifications and app updates can ensure your customers are never left guessing if your business is open or closed during abnormal times.
You can also use this method to send personalized promotions and offers to customers and stay relevant to strengthen your relationships with them. Loyal customers will want to do business with you when times are both good and bad.
An Integrated Restaurant POS is Crucial
The more options you offer to customers, the more important it becomes to implement an integrated restaurant point of sale system. Without an integrated solution, orders can be difficult to keep track of and customer data can be lost.
Make sure your POS system integrates with necessary solutions, like:
- Online ordering platforms
- Delivery services and delivery drivers
- Your website and mobile app
- Tablet POS
- Kitchen display systems
Disorganization can wreak havoc upon your operation. It’s critical that you invest in an integrated, comprehensive system that allows you to manage all of your different avenues from one platform. An integrated system helps you stay organized, remain in control, and can safeguard your business from disruption. With these tools you can overcome unexpected or unforeseen challenges and keep yourself afloat during even the hardest times.
The experts at HungerRush are ready to help you prepare for the future of your business. We offer technology that is hand-tailored to fit the needs of your restaurant. Request a demo today to learn how our industry-leading technology can benefit your restaurant in good times and in bad.
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