As COVID vaccines reach more and more people around the country, restaurants are seeing the return of in-person dining. But after over a year focusing on takeout business, it could be beneficial to refresh your strategies for attracting on-premise diners. Here are a few tips:
Highlight Ongoing Safety Measures
According to Restaurant Business online, “More than 70% of consumers say it’s extremely or highly important for restaurants to require diners to follow safety precautions; have staff wear personal protective equipment (PPE); space tables 6 feet or more apart; or communicate strict cleaning policies.” Though CDC guidelines are relaxing these restrictions, it’s clear from the data that consumers still want to feel safe.
Work with staff through ongoing training to ensure that employees are continuing safety protocols. Renew your commitment to the safety of your guests in this next phase of the pandemic, as fewer people are wearing masks and distancing in public spaces.
Communicate clearly with your guests about how you are keeping them safe. Add or update language on your website or signage in your restaurant. Create talking points for servers to be able to address any safety concerns in a way that matches your efforts.
Go Behind the Scenes
Transparency can go a long way in making guests feel more comfortable. Use social media and your email newsletter to show the behind-the-scenes view of your safety process. Video is a great way to show your followers the steps you take each day to create a safe environment. Another idea is to interview staff to have them share their perspective about how they’re working safely. Be honest and clear about what your process looks like.
Call on Influencers and Regulars
One of the best tools to connect with potential on-premise diners is word of mouth. Your regular guests can be very helpful in getting the word out that your dining room is open and ready for business. Encourage them to share their experiences with their friends, and make sure you’re providing some perks for their effort.
Likewise, it can be useful to engage with social media influencers in your area who may be willing to share information with their followers about their on-premise dining experience. As with any influencer-restaurant relationship, make sure you outline specifically what your expectations are and what you’re willing to provide in exchange.
Return to Events
As public events start to return, consider creating a presence for your business by selling food on-site. This can be a great tool for reminding folks that you are there and letting them know you’re open for in-person dining. Bring paper menus and other marketing materials that event goers can take home with them to stretch your marketing efforts even further.
This is a good time to return to the platforms like Yelp and OpenTable where you find customer reviews. Take time to respond to reviews, positive and negative, in a thoughtful way. And use the feedback you receive to tweak your approach to hiring and training staff.