Unlock 1.0, Covid ’19: 5 Things That Restaurants Should Focus On Right Now

As the lockdown norms are further getting eased across many cities and we are getting ready for what people are calling Unlock 1.0, restaurants too have been allowed to lift the shutters. Customers are itching to get back there (given normalcy is restored at the earliest), and dine out at their favourite restaurants again.

restaurant unlock 1.0

The past few months have been tough for people all round, across the globe. Amidst lockdowns, strict government orders to stay at home and the growing fear among the masses, massive changes are being seen in the way consumers are approaching buying. While some online industries have flourished, restaurants have struggled to stay in business. Be it the well-established chains or the smaller businesses everybody has been hit and have had to quickly adapt to survive.  

With the Unlock 1.0, there will be new sets of considerations that restaurants must abide by. New strategies to incorporate and an increased sense of hygiene for the well being of staff and customers. In this article, we will give you a list of things that should be done by restaurants, post lockdown and a few examples of how top restaurants are prep-ing for this period as well.

  1. Third party aggregator algorithm optimisation
  2. More focus on Cloud Kitchens and Delivery Only Models
  3. Safety and Hygiene
  4. Promotions through Digital Marketing to increase online footfall
  5. Saving on operational expenditure and re-configuration of physical spaces

Third party aggregator algorithm optimisation

A lot of your orders come in through aggregator platforms. Swiggy, Uber Eats, Zomato, Foodpanda- they’ve really upped the game when it comes to consistent marketing. It is needless to say that the restaurants that hold good positions on searches in their niches win. So first step is obviously to tie up with online order aggregators and be listed on their platforms and if you haven’t already. Second, optimise your restaurant and your niche to rank favourably on their platform.

Say you’re a burger joint and your rank on first position for a high search keyword like  ‘double chicken burger’, you are sure to benefit from good order volumes on your restaurant on Swiggy. So how do you optimise your listings on third party platforms in this period. Here are a few tips.

Get more reviews

Push for more customer reviews. Ask for more people to review you, get in touch with food reviewers (top ones), ask them if they have checked out your food. Consider even inviting some top Instagram influencers to your restaurant and they’d give you shoutouts. 

Keep a track of top keywords

There are many tools that give you patterns on keyword volume- check out and ensure that you have an item on the menu around it. If a popular search term is Special Tacos’ you really should consider pushing that keyword on your menu.

Safety Stamps

Order Online Aggregators have a certain best Safety Standard Batch which not only helps build trust among customers and increase restaurant online conversion rates but also helps them in ranking higher and being featured more frequently and prominently.

Swiggy safety standards restaurant

Delivery and Cloud Kitchen Model

We cannot emphasise the importance of delivery. This is perhaps the most important aspect and channel of sales for restaurants. Consumers have continued to use online food ordering facilities in the lockdown period.

What can you do to increase delivery?

Every time a customer places an order through a third party a restaurant loses a healthy fraction of the total order size. Building your own platform to create a fully 100% delivery arm. This means building a website and or/app, uploading your onlinemenu and setting up an order online platform that allows direct payments on your portal.

Cloud Kitchen is now more than just a buzzword. If you are a budding entrepreneur, this is a very economic route to establishing your own food business. If you are an existing dine-in owner you might want to consider a parallel arm that caters to a delivery-only audience. 

To know how to go about setting up a cloud kitchen model- refer this detailed blog on how to set up your cloud kitchen.

Safety and Hygiene

Safety and hygiene remains top priority and even more so once the restrictions are lifted. It is important for restaurants to make ensure they are assuring their customers of quality sanitation.

Here are a few noteworthy points.

  • Frequent sanitisation of the team and sanitation options across the restaurant or your consumers to utilise.
  • Ensure that your whole staff is checked regularly for covid symptoms, encourage your employees to stay at home they aren’t feeling well
  • For orders that are online, your team should ensure that the deliveries are sealed properly and devoid of any contamination.. 
  • Encourage your customers to pay online as much as possible, avoid the use of cards or currency notes.
  • Make the use of masks and gloves compulsory at your outlet
  • Not only should you ensure that hygiene is followed, you can communicate with your customers of the same via your social media and online handles.

Promotions through Digital Marketing to increase online footfall

It is really no surprise that online has quickly risen to be one of the top channels in focus right now. Digital marketing’s scope has increased manifold given the increased screen time of customers during this unlock.

Here are some tactics you can use:

Update your Google My Business Information post Unlock

Do make an account on Google My Business if you haven’t already. This is the go to place for any new business to add their details. If you haven’t already, do update your restaurant’s new operational hours, website information and other details. 

Improve your site’s SEO and make content changes

To get more traffic from Google, your site should rank for keywords that matter to you. Work on your Restaurant SEO is something you should prioritize. If you are a pizza joint, then some good keywords are ‘pizza near me’, ‘pizza online’ and so on. You should also include topical keywords in your website like ‘Work from home’, lockdown- a few companies have curated their online menu to be in line with topical/trending ideas.

restaurant SEO
Source: Google Images

Social Media

More Instagram and Facebook promotions can be done to attract more audience. The reach of both these are in the score of billions. How do you One, through your own channel and two, ads to reach out to the audience of your choice, targeted through Facebook’s sophisticated marketing tools. Through your reach outs, you would want to show them what you have to offer, give them discounts and offers (especially in the unlock) and a lot more!

For more digital marketing ideas, refer to the full article here- Restaurant Digital Marketing Tips for 2020.

Saving on operational expenses and re-configuration of physical spaces

Upto 50-60% of a restaurant’s costs comprise rent costs. With Unlock 1.0, things are sure to improve. But people might take a little longer to get accustomed to the “old” normal. Right now, people are looking to order online and that’s where more investments should be diverted. Rejig your operations plans, focus on the things that are working. Save on rentals, put your rentals on hold during this unlock if you can.

If you do have your outlets and aren’t thinking of shifting gears towards online ordering, you might want to make a few changes to the outlet blueprint. Ensure that your outlet adheres to social distancing. Once the lockdown rules are lifted, long queues and closely situated tables aren’t going to work anymore. The government will selectively allow a few kinds of restaurants to stay operational, namely the ones that are safe, hygienic, have quality safety standards and are abiding by social distancing norms.

Summing Up

There are things you can do to increase footfall and traction for your brand even amidst these times. Capitalising on the things that are working and minimising spends where it isn’t warranted will help you optimize your operations. If the conversion rates on your order online website go up, you benefit. If you rank higher on keywords on Swiggy’s and Zomato’s, you benefit. Don’t wait for things to get better. Take control. We hope this guide serves as a good starting point for you in the Unlock period. Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar

Aditya Sarkar is a Marketing Manager at LimeTray. When he isn't being a Marketer, he likes solo-travelling, playing all kinds of sports and chilling out with friends! He's reachable at aditya.sarkar@limetray.com