The impact of COVID 19 on this vital industry.
Let’s be clear. The content of this article is quite different from what I would have written the first week of 2020; even still, we have seen restaurateurs and food service franchises rise to meet the challenge this pandemic has posed to their businesses. We have seen resilience and poise in the face of complete uncertainty. It is my hope that this article celebrates these brave leaders in the restaurant industry, encourages those of you who are looking for light at the end of the tunnel and provides clarity for those of you considering this industry for your future.
Since January, I have noticed three trends that are driving successful restaurateurs during this time.
1st Trend: The Story
Restaurateurs who focus on their story are winning in their markets. What do I mean by “story”? What I mean is the how and why. Both independent and franchised restaurants have a story; a reason for doing what they do and where it all began. If you are a franchisor, you have the original story. If you are a franchisee, you became a part of that original story when you signed your franchise agreement; however, you now have your own unique addition, as to how your two roads converged. Often, that version will resonate more intimately on a local level to make an even greater mark in your community. Tell it. Tell that story in a way that draws your customers in. It’s how your loyal customers and future customers will connect with you. It matters to all of us. If you read this and understand the importance of your story but you are not sure how to tell it, there are firms who can help you present your unique story to those who really need to hear it. Telling the story behind the counter, is the trend.
2nd Trend: The Infrastructure
The second trend I am noticing is having an infrastructure to pivot. In early February, a client of ours reached out in a bit of a panic. She was not prepared to survive and thrive on third party delivery and carryout service, only. Pre-Coronavirus, her core revenue stream came out of the dining room and the sudden changes in her downtown location left her wondering what to do. Within a day, we equipped her for online orders, online checkout and staff-delivery within a multi-mile radius of her downtown location. This meant selecting a payment processor, plugging in the tech that was needed to process online payments, new photography of a reduced menu offering and several test-runs to ensure ease of ordering, seamlessness order deliveries and cohesion in checkout. When it launched, she saw a couple days of loss; but, after several social media posts pointing her customers to the new service offerings, she saw the modifications gain traction and allow for not only more orders to come in, but larger, catering opportunities she wasn’t expecting.
Infrastructure to pivot, is the trend.
3rd Trend: The Mobility
The third trend I have noticed, is a spike in mobile offerings. The mobile concepts I have
encountered are still growing in spite of COVID-19. They are food truck franchises and food cart franchises. I like these opportunities right now because they are low-cost entry, lower-cost launch and are able to follow the buyers. In addition, contactless delivery is the predominant method of serving customers and social distancing during the order process is simple to accomplish. We have helped clients during this season convert a dining in only or dining in mostly engagement to a mobile engagement. Offering online alone is sometimes not enough to meet your daily sales goals. Offering a mobile service can bridge the gap between breakeven and profitability. Consider the potential of bringing your reduced menu to the consumer. Mobile offering, is the trend.
To summarize, when it comes to this season of stay at home orders and social distancing:
1. Tell your story.
2. Be prepared for an online revenue stream.
3. Be willing to make your offerings mobile.
Gary Norris is the CEO and founder of Norris Ventures, a firm that helps turn successful restaurant and retail concepts into sustainable, scalable systems; market-ready for either franchising or corporate replication. With over 30 years entrepreneurial experience, Gary and his team at Norris Ventures lock arms with their clients to ensure success and sustainable growth, every step of the journey. Whether you are considering franchising for your business or you need to kick start franchise growth, Gary and the Norris Ventures Team are the true turn-key solution. You can reach Gary at 828-578-3718 or email him at GaryGale@NorrisVentures.com . Learn more about Norris Ventures at www.NorrisVentures.com