While the COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in new opportunities for the restaurant industry, food service providers still face many challenges. Extensive restrictions and safety regulations, including new preventive measures like mandatory protective attire and regular hand washing, continue to increase difficulty and costs as restaurants struggle to maintain their daily operations. Restaurant owners, as resilient as they are, are learning how to find new revenue sources to make up for lost capital, especially when that revenue used to be easily earned via traditional on-premises dining.
To help keep their doors open, restaurants are implementing new retail components to their existing business model, creating a retail-restaurant hybrid strategy. Approaching business from a different perspective can help diversify income streams and create a better sense of stability, creating security for both the restaurant owners and employees.
If you’re looking for creative ways to grow your restaurant business in this new economy, adding a retail element to your food service offerings can be an excellent opportunity. Here are some ideas to consider:
Provide Essential Items for Purchase in your Restaurant
Customers are realizing that relying on grocery stores for all their food, especially fresh and healthy options, may not be the best option. The higher demand of consumers has resulted in empty shelves and frustrated shoppers. Therefore, consumers are turning their attention to local business and offering them greater support.
This can be a fine opportunity for your restaurant to pull through for the public by providing staples like milk, eggs, flour, fruits, vegetables, and other essentials. Offering such indispensable items can benefit both your business and your customers regardless of your location. If you’re in a densely populated city, local grocery stores could be overloaded with too many buyers and too little stock. If you’re in the countryside, your restaurant could be much closer than grocery stores. Both have unique chances to make your business crucial for consumers.
You may even want to consider partnering with a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program to keep your business top-of-mind while increasing menu diversity and convenience for your customers. These programs are often delivery-based, and food service providers can expand on this idea with other immunity-friendly delivery options.
Provide Families with your Restaurant’s Meal Kits
Ordering out used to be a treat for families—a reward for a job well-done or a way to take some of the burden off of busy parents and caretakers. Now, it’s become the norm for many customers.
Meal kits are helping families regain this sense of food freedom. Since many consumers are overburdened with work and home responsibilities, meal kits offer a powerful one-two punch: they provide both nutritious, often locally-sourced ingredients that eliminates the need for grocery store trips, and simple preparation instructions that replace time-consuming research for recipes.
This combination lets families not only simplify the cooking process, but also build culinary skills, learn where their food comes from, and improve the customer experience as they have fun cooking with children, partners, and friends.
Offering at-home meal kits are also a fantastic way to engage more with your customers. In today’s media-filled world, an instructional email video can be an easy-to-follow alternative to written instructions. Plus, this helps you gain customer contact info that lets you interact with your audience further.
Simply put, meal kits can be an excellent option for customers who don’t feel comfortable dining out in the midst of a pandemic, but still crave meals from their favorite restaurants. This option helps everyone, hitting your sales goals while serving more of your guests’ needs, giving you a competitive edge, and building loyalty.
Play to your Niche Market to Make an Impact
Today’s regulations for businesses are changing as often as monthly, or even weekly. When it’s uncertain when your restaurants will be able to operate at full capacity, staying aware of your customers’ changing needs is essential. Fortunately, this can bring additional opportunities for niche restaurants by creating unique customer experiences.
For instance, bakery owners can spin off of meal kits by offering pastry decorating kits for families with children, or offer fresh cake deliveries for morale-boosting quarantine celebrations. Bars and lounges can create a “Beginner’s Blends” kit to teach regulars how to mix craft cocktails, while wineries can offer kits with aromatic wine and food pairings. Pizza shops can deliver DIY mini pizza kits, complete with dough ingredients and various sauces and toppings. To take it a step further and increase the sale even more, restaurants can combine both food and drink kits along with a theme to create a fun event for families or friends to do together, such as a spooky Halloween dinner and a movie, or a DIY birthday-party-in-a-box.
With the endless possibilities of meal, dessert, and drink kits, this innovative and incredibly flexible option can attract new demographics that you may not have been able to reach pre-pandemic. Changing with the times and knowing your strengths benefits both your business and your hungry customer base.
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The ideas don’t stop here. Adopting a restaurant-market hybrid model could grow significant, sustainable income for your restaurant business. While we’ve started with a few concepts, there are many more opportunities to bring in valuable new revenue streams, all while meeting your customers’ and staff’s needs.
If you’re looking to continue to improve your restaurant business, we can help. At HungerRush we provide Restaurant Management Systems (RMS) that help your business evolve with ever-changing times. Our RMS provides you with the tech tools you need to sell more and deeper into your customer base, meeting every aspect of your customers’ preferences. Our robust technology allows you to effortlessly add and change your menu, online ordering and delivery offerings, and loyalty program, so you can meet your customers’ needs both on- and off-premises, creating loyal, lifelong customers.
Contact HungerRush to request a free demo today and see how we can fulfill your restaurant’s specific needs.