23 Things Foodservice Operators Can Do TODAY to Stay Open and Reduce Losses

Mar 19, 2020

Empty Restaurant

If you’re like most operators, your dining room is quiet (perhaps even closed), your staff is worried, and your shelves are full of food you’ve already paid for. What can you do right now—today—to protect your business through this crisis? In this article, longtime Simplot representative Patrick O’Brien in San Francisco shares some real-world advice to keep your operation afloat. Remember:  people still have to eat, and some don’t or can’t cook.  Restaurants are the only way!

 

Curate your menu to match circumstances

  1. Estimate how long you expect to have your service disrupted.
  2. Talk to your distributor about potential delivery gaps you may experience with your products.
  3. Scale back your menu where possible. There’s no need to carry slow-moving items until normal business resumes.  Customers will understand if you explain it to them.

 

Find creative ways to manage your perishable inventory

  1. Identify and prioritize inventory with upcoming shelf life issues.
  2. Feature "at risk" items in promotions that prompt customers to order now. For example, “FREE slice of cheesecake or FREE salad with purchase of a pizza.”
  3. Consider donating product to charity for a tax write-off.
  4. Transition from fresh to frozen where possible to eliminate waste and shelf life issues.  Fresh ground burgers can be substituted with frozen until this crisis is over. 
  5. Offer a “Come Back” incentive (Buy One, Get One Free) for next purchase on EVERY order that goes out for takeout or delivery.

 

Get aggressive with your marketing and promotion

  1. Be honest about the situation with your customers. Ask your community for help supporting you through these tough times; you’d be surprised how many people will order a meal from you just to help out.
  2. Blast social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU’RE OPEN! Do the same with your special offers.
  3. Honor competitor coupons whenever you can.
  4. Hang large, visible "WE'RE OPEN" banners outside your location.
  5. Distribute flyers in strategic locations.

 

Show your customers you understand their safety concerns

  1. BE THE CLEANEST RESTAURANT IN YOUR AREA.  Brag about it, show your staff disinfecting via Facebook Live or Instagram. 
  2. Follow CDC guidelines regarding food safety and handling. Review them regularly as they are updated often:
    CDC guidelines
  3. Reduce the number of tables in your dining area to ensure social distancing.
  4. Deliver curbside orders on a tray to reduce handling by staff.
  5. Consider switching to disposables (plastic cutlery, cups, paper napkins) during this time, if possible, to mitigate perception of risk.
  6. Contact local schools for a “Dine & Dash” event where the community picks up to-go meals and a portion of proceeds (10%) goes back to the school to help support them through this challenging time as well.
  7. Offer family style meals to-go, even if it’s not your typical cuisine. Hamburger shops can sell lasagna and salad for four people via curbside takeaway. It’s a higher price point sale and distributors have all the products you need.
  8. Use walking delivery to your immediate neighborhood. Your staff need something to do if customers aren’t coming in. 
  9. Offer catered lunch specials to offices who want to thank employees who still need to work on-site.  Make the pricing beneficial to the business owner, chances are they are hurting as well.
  10. Breakfast establishments may see the most impact as they typically have the least demand for takeout. Consider adapting your business model to capitalize on the "all day breakfast" trend and offer Brinner to-go (Breakfast for Dinner).

Please contact your local Simplot sales rep to help you implement these ideas and more.  Like you, we’re fighting for the health of our customers.  This is no time for half measures!