The Philippine restaurant and foodservice industry was set to grow close to PHP 800 billion in 2020. Unfortunately, like a magnificent tree that was unexpectedly struck by lightning, the once flourishing industry is now in survival mode due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After extended months of community quarantine and lockdowns, numerous cafes, eateries, and quick service restaurants have closed shop while others are fighting hard to remain in business, if only for the sake of their staff.
While the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases eased restrictions in mid-2020 to help revive the economy, it is far from the ideal situation for food and beverage establishments. For the foreseeable future, they will need to adopt to new operational strategies to stay afloat and to protect the health of their customers and employees.
If you are a restaurateur trying to reopen your restaurant business, you may want to learn from the experiences of others who continued their operation and endured the challenges. Here are five business survival tips that you may want to consider as you open your restaurant in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Preventing close contact with others is one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus. That is why you should make physical distancing a priority when you reopen your establishment. Take note that besides widening the spaces between tables and placing markers on the chairs, tables, and across the floor space, you should also introduce cashless payment methods to limit interaction between your staff and the customer.
You can follow the example of independent restaurants and fast food chains that have started using the PayMaya ONE POS devices in their branches for dine-in and drive-thru options. When you have this device, your customers can scan to pay using PayMaya QR, or they can tap, di, or swipe their debit, credit, or prepaid card instead of paying in cash. Such cashless transactions reduce the risks brought about by close physical contacts and handling cash in your restaurant, thus making the payment process less worrisome.
Since government regulations prohibit food establishments from operating at full capacity, your business will have a hard time surviving unless you offer delivery services. For most Filipino households, opting for food delivery is the new normal as most of them have become conscious about the importance of social distancing and are thus uncomfortable going outside.
However, before you adopt this helpful tip, it is best to review your menu offerings to determine the food items suited for deliveries. You may need to tweak some of your recipes and packaging options to ensure that your food and drinks can survive the travel and reach customers in good condition.
You should also come up with different techniques to minimize, if not completely prevent, physical contact between your food delivery staff and clients. For instance, instead of merely offering a cash on-delivery payment method, you can use the PayMaya ONE Lite device to provide “cashless on delivery.” Your rider can bring this portable device so that your patrons can pay with payment card, QR code, e-wallet, and other cashless modes.
To make your delivery service option successful, you need to implement a convenient online ordering system. Keep in mind that many food establishments are currently using an aggressive takeout and delivery scheme to stay in business. If your website is too difficult to navigate or lacks information, prospective clients will have no trouble finding another resto online that makes things easy for them.
As you prepare for your relaunching, take the time to update your website. Post your current menu, hours of operation, phone number, and other pertinent details to make ordering more convenient. Moreover, you can also introduce different electronic payment options, or install a payment solution that accepts payments through numerous channels. An example of this is the PayMaya Checkout Plug-in, which is compatible with any ecommerce site that operates on the Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, or Cafe24 platform. With the PayMaya Checkout plug-in installed, your customers have the freedom to pay with credit card, debit card, QR code, or e-wallet directly on your website or mobile app. . This technology allows you to bill your customers and accept payments should they choose to settle their tab immediately after ordering online.
As you may know, the coronavirus spreads from one individual to the next through respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, sneezes, or coughs. Because of this mechanism, dining in closed-spaces increases the risk of virus transmission. On the contrary, dining outdoors can mitigate the spread of the virus because of increased air volume and better air circulation.
Make your restaurant’s dining experience safer by encouraging your customers to dine in the open air. You can transform a portion of your parking lot, if you have any, into a dining space. Add tents, comfortable tables and chairs, beautiful plants, and other elements to make the area more inviting. By resorting to al fresco dining, you can conveniently adhere to the social distancing guidelines and make your clients feel more secure and comfortable.
Whether you face the hard reality or not, your restaurant’s revenues will remain down indefinitely. This is why you must implement various approaches to keep your expenses down apart from finding ways to attract more customers.
You can negotiate with your suppliers or switch to vendors that provide better pricing. If you are leasing a space, you can talk with the owner about lowering your rental fee to keep you afloat during these challenging times. You can also come up with new menu offerings with ingredients that do not cost much. Ultimately, you should track your income and expenses more seriously and find where and how you can reduce operating costs.
The strategies mentioned above are just a few ways you can keep your restaurant business up and running amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Although these methods may take some getting used to, they will help you prepare for the “new normal” business model for the foodservice industry. Note that the sooner you can leverage technology and adopt effective safety protocols and cost-cutting measures, the better you can address the challenges besetting the Philippine restaurant sector today.