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Restaurant Recovery Playbook

Restaurant Recovery Playbook
Shane Skillen

Parts of our economy have been decimated.

Restaurants and bars have taken this particularly hard losing in many cases upwards of 90-100% of their revenue.

The amazing team at Hotspex consults many of the biggest brands in the world to build their brands using customer insights. The best way we know how to help is to run surveys. We have been running a series of industry focused playbooks to support those in need during COVID-19. Now is the time to share skills to help small business get back on their feet.

Last night we ran a survey to explore how small restaurants can get their clientele to help support them through this crisis. We interviewed 1,000 restaurant goers in North America to uncover how to get them eating and spending with these businesses again.

Here is what we learned:

  1. People are super worried about food contamination (79%) from the restaurants that are delivering.
  2. The second reason (68%) why people are not ordering takeout is money concerns. They are worried about their finances and are trying to be responsible.
  3. They want you to give your excess food to charity (45%).
  4. They don’t care about putting on weight from ordered food (6%).
  5. 98% of people WANT to support their local restaurants they just need you to show them how.
  6. They miss going to restaurants and that restaurant escape/experience (42%)

So what can you do? Only you know what to do. Move out of panic/fear mode into growth mode and adjust. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

1) People are in survival mode.

They are trying to solve for the lowest of their base needs which in this time largely relates to their health and the health of their families. Show them the safety steps you are taking in GREAT, exaggerated detail. Be way over the top and honour the safety measures you are communicating. Wear masks, wash your hands 50 times a day, take the temperatures of your staff 10 times a day, wash down the kitchen with disinfectant, ensure that all your cooking/delivery staff are not exposing themselves to many other people, and video the safety process of your kitchen and put it on your social media feeds and website. Because people are worried about all contact, offer to include frozen items that they can warm up later as part of their order. 26% of people indicated they would order frozen meals and this is extra margin for you. Lastly, comfort them with the fact that you can’t contract COVID-19 from eating food. Here is a link to a reputable source you can share.

2) Target special occasions where people will spend money such as “Date Night”, “Family Dinner”, or “Dinner and Movie”.

Yes people are worried about money, but they have lots of savings from all the things they aren’t doing as well. They aren’t spending on gas, vacations, summer camps, clothing (well pants anyway, shirts are still selling well as they end up on video conferences). People need to keep their sanity. Send them an iTunes gift certificate to rent a movie for orders over $100.

a.    Just because you are locked up, doesn’t mean you can’t keep the romance alive

b.    Now more than ever, you need a break

c.    Even Bill Murray agrees that ordering in is a great way to stop Groundhog Day

You know what to say … look at what other restaurants are saying … then say it.

3) Put hand-written notes in every food order.

Better yet have pictures of your staff, families or good times at the restaurant and have all your staff sign it. This will help people develop an emotional connection and want to support you. Make this so good that they post it on their social media. That is your goal: a personal touch that is so good that people post it on Instagram/Facebook so that thousands of others see what you are doing.

4) Any extra food you have … give it to charity!

Show that YOU are being charitable and that you are deserving of their charity. Put this on your social media.

5) Customers are hard to come by these days.

Getting a few hundred loyal ones for the next few months could be make or break for your business. Make sure their experience is perfect by ensuring that their food and experience exceeds their expectations! Find ways to reward them.

We want to make sure we exceeded your expectations. Please email us your feedback and in return we will give you 5% off your next order. In fact, we will give you 10% off if you tag us in your social media photos and share pictures of you enjoying our food with a #yourrestaurant.

6) Paint a hopeful future.

Let people earn loyalty credits to re-buy with you. For every order, give them a discount on a future order. Help them envision their first meal back in your restaurant. If you serve wine … let them know the first bottle is on the house after all this is over.

We are all in this together. This too will pass. People will eat out again. When that time comes make it easy and exciting for them. Good luck and if you have any questions you can email me at

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