As we continue living with COVID-19, people may be hesitant to frequent public spaces. In addition to publicizing the fact that your dining room will be reopening, it’s vital to reassure people by explaining all the precautionary health and safety measures you are putting into place. Take every opportunity to reach out and interact with consumers. Creating a relationship with your clients is by far the best way to earn their trust.
Start by developing a welcome campaign to announce that you’re reopening your dining room. Let clients feel how pleased you are to be hosting them once again. Tell them about your experience over the past few months and what you expect for the future. Tell them how you are preparing to show them a good time once again. Keeping your messages relevant and authentic can be your biggest asset.
Don’t skimp on the details
Fill people in; on your opening hours, menu changes and services you are offering (dining room, takeout, delivery) anytime you communicate with them. Most of all, fully explain the health measures you are implementing to ensure their safety. Describe the table and bathroom cleaning protocols, staff attire, use of electronic or single-use menus, etc. The idea is to make clients feel confident and reassured, but also to prepare them for this new normal.
Update your web site regularly as well as your Facebook, Instagram and other social media pages. Advertise online, especially on local sites like neighbourhood association sites, send emails to regular customers, distribute flyers locally, install a banner on your storefront… anything you can do to re-establish your presence in the minds of your customers. There has never been a better time to invest in communications. Once your restaurant is open, keep a close watch on online comments and react promptly and politely when necessary.
Show your creativity
Develop original promotional ideas to urge your customers to visit your establishment. Differentiating your business will always be the key to success, but should not rely only on the originality of your menu or your attractive pricing. The sense of community that has developed during the crisis, for instance, is a trend that’s likely to continue and something you can leverage to develop customer loyalty. For example:
- Get together with other restaurants in your neighbourhood to create a weekend grand reopening event.
- Offer gift cards to help people plan their future dining experiences. Mention that purchasing one will help your restaurant weather the crisis by providing much needed liquidity.
- Invite community associations to meet in your restaurant. That way you’ll be demonstrating that yours is a safe establishment and that you actively support your local community.
Restaurateurs have long been known for their creativity. Now more than ever they’ll need to muster all their inventiveness so that their marketing and communication efforts are as reassuring as they are inviting.