4 Ways To Prepare for Predicted Springtime Traffic Increases

4 Ways To Prepare for Predicted Springtime Traffic Increases
Here's how to prepare your fast-casual restaurant for success when the industry booms in the spring.
by Fast Casual Mar 11, 2021 — 5 min read
4 Ways To Prepare for Predicted Springtime Traffic Increases

This article was written by Corey Chao and originally appeared in Fast Casual.

There’s no denying that 2020 was the year that restaurants had to continuously adapt and evolve due to the pandemic, from dine-in shutdowns and delivery and curbside pickup increases to reduced-capacity reopenings. Although it has been a difficult year for the industry, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once a vaccine is introduced to the public in 2021, the restaurant industry will enter a third phase of navigating business post-COVID — this time with patrons eager to resume dining out once the risk is reduced while managing the here-to-stay demand of off-premises deliveries and pickups. But just because on-premises dining will resume doesn’t mean it’s going back to what we have known as “normal.” Here’s how to prepare your fast-casual restaurant for success when the industry booms in the spring.

Safety and community support are crucial

It goes without saying that the goal of fast-casual restaurants will be to put their customers’ minds at ease when dining out again. That means your sanitation precautions should remain in the spotlight even post-vaccine. You won’t need overly harsh restrictions, but you want to ensure your customers’ safety at all times. Although we will return to a more familiar form of fast-casual dining, it will be helpful (and expected) to keep safety measures in place through spring.

In addition to safety, customers are thinking more about community as a result of the past year. Communities came together during the worst of the pandemic, and have changed the way businesses interact with each other. Customers want to give their hard-earned money to business owners that care about a larger cause. You might try teaming up with other businesses in your area to show your community that you have their backs through good times and bad. Some ideas include:

Prep your restaurant layout and menu

With a deployed vaccine and dine-in capability restored, restaurants will benefit from the technology upgrades they are making or have already made. The pandemic has fast-tracked restaurant tech advancements, ranging from menus available via QR code to ordering kiosks to the use of tablets for line-busting ordering and payment, particularly in outdoor seating areas.

Ordering options have expanded via website and mobile apps as well as newer additions such as text ordering. With a variety of options in the palm of customers’ hands, these digital ordering solutions will stay, as will upgrades to facilitate delivery options. You can be assured that your tech investments won’t go to waste. In fact, they will help streamline operations as demands increase for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

Aside from tech solutions, another modification that will stay is adjustments to your dine-in layout. Part of making your customers feel safe will be to continue respecting previous social distancing recommendations. This practice will remind guests that their safety is your top priority even when the virus is no longer a large risk. And although you will be allowed to seat more customers indoors than before, it’s smart to consider outdoor dining to keep up with high customer demand, reinforce social distancing, and maximize your capacity. You can expect patrons to dine on-premises significantly more, especially after enduring the winter months of continued takeout and delivery. Configuring your restaurant footprint to keep up with the demands of your business will play a large role in your success.

Another factor of your spring preparation is your menu. For the last year, restaurants had to limit options or get creative with offerings in order to keep their doors open by providing curbside pickup or delivery. When re-establishing your dine-in menu, it’s a good time to reevaluate what you offer. Create a competitive analysis to find what customers are looking for in this new season. Ask yourself the following questions:

Train your team to adapt

It’s no secret that employees have had to learn and relearn new ways of working efficiently while cutting costs for their fast-casual restaurant. There are a few changes that won’t be going away even after a vaccine is introduced. You’ll want to keep these practices incorporated into your employee training:

Let technology ease the burden

Although we have witnessed the superhuman powers of restaurant owners this last year, it’s not practical to keep carrying the load once a vaccine is introduced. Although on-premises dining will be changed forever, restaurant owners can equip themselves with the tools and knowledge they gained during the pandemic to foster success. For increased productivity, efficiency, and customer loyalty, implementing innovative technology is the best move for your fast-casual restaurant.

The most successful restaurants will thrive knowing that they can operate at full capacity inside while continuing to fulfill orders that are delivered or picked up. Investing in an all-in-one system that integrates all on- and off-premises ordering channels for your eatery will prepare your team for the increased demand of guests who will be excited to safely support your restaurant. It will help you maximize the guest experience to drive repeat business for years to come.

Copyright Networld Media Group DBA Networld Alliance, LLC Feb 5, 2021

This article was written by Corey Chao from Fast Casual and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Fast Casual
The Bottom Line is brought to you by a global team of collaborators who believe that anyone should be able to participate and thrive in the economy.


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