Small businesses sighed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that New Zealand was loosening lockdown measures from Tuesday 28th April after 5 weeks of Level 4 lockdown. But what does Level 3 mean for your business?
For New Zealand businesses, the best source of knowledge is as always provided by reputable sources like the New Zealand government. While the key message is still to work from home if you can, it opens up the option for retail and hospitality industries to adapt their business model and continue to provide their products and services in a safe way to customers. For many businesses this may include bringing in additional health and safety measures, limiting physical interaction with customers, and moving to an online-only model.
With New Zealand being one of the strictest in terms of full lockdown measures, there are many countries where hospitality businesses have continued to operate in a limited capacity and serve their customers. Mindy Augustine, RIP Global’s Country Head USA, has collected some insights from what merchants are doing in the US to keep their businesses afloat, while implementing social distancing measures.
Upgrade websites for online ordering and payment
“It goes without saying but customers have become accustomed to easy ordering and payment with the likes of UberEats and other meal delivery apps. In order to encourage customers to order directly through you, it’s important to add the functionality to your website and allow for easy ordering and payment.”
Many website builders like Squarespace or Wordpress will have inbuilt ordering and payment plugins. Alternatively, get online fast with Mobi2Go who can work with you to start taking pick up and delivery orders from your customers in a matter of days.
Also, make sure you have added the functionality to sell gift cards. “These places need cash and this is a quick way to get it. I have seen a few restaurants offering discounts on gift cards when you buy more than one such as $90 for two $50 gift cards which is a great way to provide additional value for when places are back up and running”.
Be creative with offerings and menus
Is your menu already set up for takeaway, or does it need to be adjusted? For many cafes and restaurants it will be a completely new business model, so look around at what similar businesses are doing and determine what could work best for you.
Part of the decision-making process could involve looking at what you already have in stock, and what you can deliver with a minimum amount of staff.
“In the US restaurants have been getting competitive with their offerings to entice customers. This has included adding 50% off bottles of wine when you purchase over a certain value, adding totally different items to their menu, and preparing family-size meals and advertising them weekly. I have also noticed an increase in social media activity sharing photos of their food which immediately makes me think - why should I cook when I could eat that!
A couple of local restaurants in Jacksonville Florida have been posting daily menus on Facebook which feed 2-4 people. This has been a lifesaver to our family and showcases their ability to diversify and tailor their food to the needs of their community.”
Make social distancing and safety measures a priority
Although we are moving down to Level 3 there will still be a high level of alertness in the community so when doing delivery or allowing pickups safety measures still need to be a priority.
“American food outlets, and even liquor stores, have been extremely resourceful opening up their windows and doors to operate as a drive-through, setting up a tent and table outside their front doors, or taking orders from parked cars wearing PPE. This has allowed them to still service customers physically instead of using online ordering, whilst practising social distancing. If using this approach, having sanitiser and wiping down payment machines between uses is key.”
When delivering food items, ensure that social distancing measures are still being practised and that customers see that you are wearing appropriate protective gear such as gloves and face masks. You essentially want to reassure customers that you are following precautions and give them peace of mind.
If your business doesn’t have a company car and you are delivering within a limited radius don’t be afraid to get inventive! “In terms of delivery I’ve had cars, bikes and even golf carts delivering my food orders!”
Know your market
Knowing your audience and market is crucial. Do you know what your top-selling product is and who the potential clientele are who live in your area? For example, there’s no point selling fine-dining style food with a high-price point if you’re delivering to a student area.
Alternatively, ask your audience what they would want. Use your social media channels to your advantage and find out what your audience wants you to deliver or make available for pickup.
“Takeaways aren’t the only option. Perhaps customers in your area would prefer ingredients and recipes for how to make some of your most popular meals which takes out the stress of going to the supermarket. One of our local Mexican restaurants has put together a Covid-19 Taco Survival Kit which contains all the ingredients needed to make their famous taco’s for four.”
If you have any more tips for hospitality businesses please feel free to share them with us so we can pass them on. The more we can support one another the better - we’re all in this together!