While trade may be down (or halted altogether) there are still important things you can do during lockdown to look after your restaurant: Communicate with your customer. Small independent businesses don’t have the luxury of slick communication executives. So, in an effort to help, we’ve rounded up a crisis communications checklist to help your restaurant during this tricky time:
Remain true to your vision
When you began your restaurant, you had a vision and a plan. In times of crisis, it is vital that you revisit that mission statement. At Chef’s Depot we believe that during uncertain times, your restaurant needs to get back to basics and be guided by your core values. Use that as a base for all your customer communication.
While some marketers will argue that it’s not the time for self-promotion. Businesses are struggling and if you have a way to continue turn-over, that is both valid and necessary. That said, if you are going to promote a product or service, make sure it’s appropriate and that you cover all your communication bases. Your customer will be extremely sensitive right now. So ensure you position your offering as a support service to them whilst always remaining sensitive from afar.
Consider your tone
This refers to the way you usually communicate with your customer. If you are normally light and breezy, this would be the time to get a little more serious when speaking about COVID-19. Formal language will communicate that you have done your research and are taking the matter very seriously. But this doesn’t mean you must lose your identity either. So try and strike the right balance that ticks all the appropriate boxes.
Keep messaging personal
In times of crisis it’s so important to be compassionate. Your patrons are more than just spenders, they are people too with their own personal struggles. When writing your social media posts or newsletters, try picturing one of your regular customers. Imagine you are speaking directly to them. Ask yourself what you would say and how you would say it if you were face-to-face? Actually, this is a great guide for the development of your communication strategy on a whole.
Say it straight
This is not the time to be convoluted and unclear. There is already so much mixed messaging out there, don’t add to it. Transparent communications begins in your subject line (when on email) or in the first line of a social post. It summarises your message and lets your customer know (from the outset) why you are reaching out. Allowing them to ascertain if it can serve them.
The hospitality industry is already accustomed to focussing squarely on health and safety. So you are already ahead of the game. But (if you are currently trading in a takeaway or delivery capacity) what is your establishment doing to promote additional safety? This is the kind of useful information that your customer is going to want to hear about. So be totally transparent and let them know the steps you are taking to keep them safe. This can be done by discussing new measures including contactless delivery, airtight containers and safety precautions during meal prep.
The bottom line
While we are all unsure when the lockdown will be lifted. Or whether trade concessions will be made for the restaurant industry. Use this time to keep your brand top of mind. Striking the right balance between communicating useful and supportive information, rather than bombarding your customer during an (already) overwhelming time.
We at Chef’s Depot understand your devastation, that this is a waiting game and that it’s hard. But we also know that there are things your restaurant can do to keep your brand alive and retain client loyalty. So that when this is behind us, you can resume business, recuperate and emerge with key relationships in place. Ready to serve your next meal and feed hungry mouths.