I read this page in the June 2020 issue of QSR Magazine, and thought sharing it – along with some ideas I had below – would be useful to my restaurant owner friends.

If you agree, don’t keep this a secret. Forward this to any operators who are struggling with sales, or what to do next. 

And remember that knowledge is only POTENTIAL POWER. I’m going to try and make these ideas small and actionable immediately, in hopes that they improve your business by at least 1%.

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In the top statistic, you benefit from Chipotle’s big budget spending money on research – so that you don’t have to. That’s a blessing and a freebie! 

In addition, because most of you are smaller in size, you get to respond quicker and win more customers than Chipotle might be able to. 

Regardless of your political beliefs – people are still scared of returning to restaurants and gyms, the fear of a second wave is real, people’s habits have altered, and there will be a stronger focus on eating better. And what’s always been true is that people are more starved for time than ever, so they also want eating to happen NOW. 

When there is an overwhelm of information on the Internet – it’s more valuable that you curate a delicious, affordable menu – and make it convenient, make the customer feel smart, and take care of their families. 

Take inventory of your offering, right now. Does it check all the boxes in the above paragraph?

If people are limiting their trips to the grocery store, like the first statistic states…

Offer food items that you purchase from your distributors, and offer them for sale. One of the brands I’m a shareholder in – Paderia Bakehouse – did a brilliant thing. 

When COVID-19 hit, people were sheltering in place and made food at home more. Many of them decided to bake more for sustenance, returning to their passions, and/or taking up new hobbies – and owners Davion and Nathan kept their core business running, but added another opportunity for customers. 

They offered restaurant-grade bags of flour, yeast, and other baking ingredients for direct-to-consumer sale. They used their existing social media platform and announced it, and they sold out almost every time they did. While supermarkets were running out of supplies during the panic of the first few weeks of lockdown, food distribution centers were still delivering them to restaurants – and Davion and Nathan heeded the call. 

They didn’t have to move mountains to do anything extra. They didn’t dilute the quality of their main business – only created more cash flow and met more consumer demand. They didn’t spend any labor hours processing orders. Their customers now see them as a convenient choice for all things baking. And their sales increased during COVID-19.

Not only did they find another way to serve their customers, they found a way to serve their community as well. They used their proceeds to bake and committed to deliver over 10,000 cookies to hospitals throughout Southern California.

Although they are a small chain, that’s temporary (they’re opening two more stores in the next 12 months), and they are a leader. 

Take inventory of the inventory you have in your BOH, and what your current suppliers could offer. Consider emailing or texting your customers (and if you aren’t communicating with your customers regularly, that’s another opportunity right there) – or when they’re in-store, in-person – that you’re thinking of offering wholesale/bulk groceries, in an effort to serve your customers better, and ask if they’d like to buy any items directly here. 

Partner up with a fitness expert and offer tips to exercise while in a hurry, and in the convenience of their own homes. Customers will appreciate that you go above and beyond in not just taking care of their food needs, but show that you care about their health. 

Create workout videos or diagrams; or an easier and more effective approach – recruit a fitness trainer to give free virtual or in-person sessions. 

Most restaurants want to be a lifestyle brand, but they only say it in word. This is an opportunity to walk the talk, and differentiate from the short-sighted, reactive competition as well.

Ask your food supplier for a list of healthy snacks, or look outside. If people are struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle and are defaulting to the candy bar or cup of ramen noodles nearby…intercept them while they’re ordering your food by offering healthier snacks that will make them feel good, eliminate their guilt, and again – be focused on serving customers’ needs. 

Again – like the first point, it doesn’t take any extra labor hours, it helps you differentiate, and it’s a huge display of going the extra mile and caring about your customers. 

Mobile marketing. Sorry that I cut off the bottom part of the page, but it’s still important lol! 

People are always on their phones, so why aren’t you there (only talking to the non-mobile owners)? 

Maybe you’ve never had the time to compile all of your customers’ contact information in an actionable format.

Maybe you don’t know how to best organize it. 

Maybe you think it’s too expensive to manage communications by text or an app. 

Or maybe you’re worried about being intrusive.

Regardless – those above beliefs are unhelpful and wrong, and I’d love to share a few ideas on how to best have a system of communicating with the people who give you purpose, that pay your bills, that help you grow, and that depend on you to serve them (your customers). 

Shoot me an email and we’ll talk about them. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too many ideas right here and debilitate your efforts.

That’s it for now. Have an incredible week ahead, my friends. Do your best work, take massive action, and be the leaders that help with the recovery.

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