In this 6-minute read:
- Helpful tips to reassure restaurant customers
- Providing alternative dining and delivery options
- Keeping your customers informed
Most of the United States is still heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and in some places, mandated shutdowns are occurring again (or still). Through all of this, restaurants have been widely impacted—whether they are busier than ever with takeout and delivery orders or have had to close their doors completely.
We want to help your business be the former, so we’ve provided some ways that you can reassure your customers during a pandemic so that they keep coming back.
With Womply Email Marketing, you can turn customers into regulars and get more repeat business with targeted emails that send automatically when customers transact with you. Learn more when you sign up for Womply Free!
1. Regulate mask-wearing for customers and staff
We’re aware that wearing masks isn’t exactly possible while sitting down to eat. But there are other places through the restaurant that your customers can wear masks to help keep other customers at ease.
- Waiting in line
- Standing in the lobby
- Walking to their tables
- Getting up to use the restroom
- When leaving their tables
Anytime your customers aren’t sitting down at their table and eating, they should be wearing masks. Keep signs up at the entrance so customers are aware of this right from the beginning of their experience. And if they walk in without a mask, make sure your staff is trained to inform customers that they need to wear a mask when they are not at their table. There have been too many instances of a customer not being informed early enough and then asked to leave partway through their visit because they didn’t have a mask. That only reflects poorly on your business if this happens.
Also ensure that your staff is wearing masks. There is no time (except maybe during a break) when your staff should not be masked up. While prepping food, taking orders, serving food, seating tables, cleaning, etc., they should wear a mask to help reassure your customers that you are taking the pandemic seriously and want to keep them safe.
2. Provide masks to employees and customers
Not everyone has access to masks, so a good option to help ensure mask-wearing is to provide them to your employees and customers. You can keep a box of face masks in a break room or employee area for them to grab as they start working.
For customers, we recommend not placing a box of masks at the door because that can get unsanitary quickly with a bunch of different hands reaching into it, and then that defeats the purpose. However, you can have a staff member be in charge of the customer mask box and offer them to customers as needed. Be sure that your employee is sanitizing before they hand out masks to customers.
In addition, train these employees to be courteous and friendly about it. This is the first interaction of customers with your business and the first impression should be one of friendly service, not of shaming or finger-pointing.
3. Enable social distancing
From the time a customer walks in your doors and throughout their dining experience, there should be plenty of space for them to social distance from your staff and other customers. Here are a few tips and guidelines that your restaurant can use:
- Use markers in the lobby/waiting area that are six feet apart to encourage social distancing before a customer is seated or while they are waiting in line
- Rearrange the dining room so that tables and chairs are at least six feet apart from others so customers won’t be seated too closely
- If you are unable to remove tables and chairs due to lack of storage space, you can tape off every other set to discourage customers from sitting too close to other parties
- Require your staff to keep their distance from customers while taking orders, cleaning, and seating customers
4. Increase your sanitization efforts
Restaurants already have high regulations for cleanliness in order to achieve healthy standards, but it is more important than ever to go above and beyond with your sanitization efforts.
Follow these steps to up your game in the cleaning game:
- Require staff to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before and after prepping food, in between serving customers, after handling money/credit cards (or anything that customers touched), before and after breaks, right when they arrive at the job, and right before they leave
- Clean tables with a cleaning and disinfecting agent between each party
- Clean other high traffic areas with a cleaning and disinfecting agent regularly: doors and handles, bathrooms, seats in waiting area, check-in stations, counters, work stations in the kitchen
- Place hand sanitizer at each table throughout your restaurant and at the entrance. This will encourage customers to use it before and after their meal and assure them that you are taking the necessary measures to keep them safe
5. Require employees to be healthy to work
Scan your employees’ temperatures and ensure that they aren’t exhibiting COVID-like symptoms before they arrive at the restaurant each day. And let your customers know that these additional measures are taking place.
Restaurant employees, especially those handling food, should never work when they are sick anyway, but handle this delicately with your employees so you still have a staff to help man your restaurant too. Make sure they know that this is for the safety of your customers and staff, and if you’re able, offer some kind of paid time off for those who do exhibit symptoms so they aren’t tempted to lie just to make their paycheck.
6. Provide alternatives to dining in
Depending on where you are located, it’s likely that you will have fewer dine-in customers than in previous years, so it’s important to provide alternatives to dining in to help keep business flowing.
Curbside pickup, takeout orders, and delivery are all great alternatives that help customers feel safe and keep traffic light in your dining areas.
Need some help getting started? Check out these additional resources:
- 9 reasons why your restaurant needs online ordering and delivery
- How to get your restaurant started with delivery or carry-out during COVID-19
- Restaurant alternatives to DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub for online ordering and delivery
7. Keep your customers informed
Make sure your customers are aware of all of the extra measures you are taking to ensure their safety. This will help put their minds at ease when making that decision to eat out, especially knowing that they can get takeout or delivery and enjoy the food right from their own home.
In order to make sure customers are aware of any changes that you’ve made, start sharing your updates regularly on social media, your website, and through email blasts.
Some changes and updates that you should share with customers:
- Changes to hours or dates that you are open
- Menu changes (new and removed menu items)
- Pricing changes
- New and ongoing deals and discounts
- Information about delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup
If you need help getting this information out to your customers via email, Womply has a solution for you. Womply’s automated email marketing engine can help you craft messages to your customers and send them out at the opportune moments to help keep your customers informed and encourage them to order your food.
Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!