A Survival Guide for Restaurant & Foodservice Industry: Post-Pandemic Edition

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Hospitality industry

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it would be just how essential the restaurant industry is. During the pandemic’s height, only a handful of businesses were deemed “essential”. Among them are government entities and contractors, utilities, food production, childcare and transportation. Their essential status allowed them to remain in operation as the Covid-19 virus spread its way across the nation and the world. Now, over a year since the virus has officially been declared a pandemic, the damage left on the restaurant and foodservice industry is becoming increasingly more clear.

The data from the National Restaurant Association showed more than 110,000 eating and drinking establishments closed in 2020, whether temporarily or permanently. This has put sales for the restaurant and foodservice industry some $240 billion below its pre-pandemic 2020 forecasts.

As disparaging as these statistics may seem, this data also highlights the restaurant and foodservice industry’s track of rebuilding in 2021, wherever and however possible.

How valuable local marketing is to the foodservice

Local marketing efforts matter

Despite the hits suffered by this industry throughout the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many restaurants and foodservice businesses were able to not only survive but thrive. Traditionally, most smaller and family-owned restaurants and foodservice businesses have relied on smaller channels to drive business through their doors. These can take the form of local foot traffic and events like farmers’ markets and other hyper-local promotions. Covid threw these potentials for growth and additional sales out the window. This severely limits the potential for smaller, locally-owned restaurants to grow amidst the pandemic.

Consequently, many of these restaurants and foodservice businesses pivoted to further integrate and leverage digital technologies and platforms to survive and grow during the pandemic. This has made it possible for these businesses to continue interacting with those in their local communities. This is an advantage most small businesses have over larger corporations in the industry and one that has steadily been on the rise over the past 12-18 months.

According to one survey conducted by Mint Life of Intuit, more than two-thirds of respondents interviewed for the survey (approximately 70%) said they would rather support small and locally-owned businesses through either shopping online or through an online and in-store hybrid platform. Data from that same survey shows us that, of every $100 spent on local and small businesses, approximately $48 (or 48%) was put back into the local economy.

Creating and integrating a local marketing strategy is useful for small businesses to put a “face” to the brand and to prioritise the customers’ experience. But more than that, it has shown to be one of the most vital aspects contributing to the growth and success of small businesses in the restaurant and foodservice industry. This is especially true in these uncertain and unprecedented times. However, there is the consideration to cut operating costs by lowering the overhead expenses many restaurants and foodservice businesses have had to make throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lower overhead = more on-hand cash

digital marketing tips for hospitality industry

The lower internal operating costs are for a restaurant or foodservice business the less financial strain that is placed upon that business. This also applies to practically almost any business, really.

For example, consider the amount of overhead required to continue successfully operating an Olive Garden at a 7,700-8,500 square foot location compared to a digital-only restaurant brand operating out of a 500-2,000 square foot “ghost kitchen”. Both restaurants must possess enough overhead to pay for their monthly rent, utilities and food costs. However, the overhead needed for operating the 2,000 square foot “ghost kitchen” is obviously significantly less than that of the larger Olive Garden restaurant.

Many restaurateurs and other business owners in the foodservice industry may recall the impact of the 2007 Great Recession on their business. During this time, a large portion of restaurants and foodservice businesses, especially larger chains, ended up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Either this or they pivoted to adopt the smaller ghost kitchen business model as the drop in sales left a larger dent in their overhead expenses resulting from the Recession. For better or worse, the industry has experienced a similar surge in both as a result of the pandemic’s impact on the industry. This is because the number of restaurants and outfitted kitchens that have closed have subsequently allowed for other restaurants and foodservice businesses to acquire square footage space for smaller kitchens.

This, in turn, presents an opportunity for those remaining in the industry: There have been more spaces consisting of lower square footage available for restaurants to rent or mortgage as potential operations for ghost kitchens. Furthermore, with effective digital marketing strategies targeting customers in their local communities, many restaurants and foodservice businesses have been able to not only survive the impact of the pandemic but thrive in spite of it.

Strategising for survival

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What the restaurant and foodservice industry is currently experiencing is a case of history. For the most part, that history is repeating itself as far as the impact of both the 2007 Recession and the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic is concerned. That being said, millions of restaurants and foodservice businesses have been able to successfully adapt to the impact of both events. Even better, they also continue to grow despite the setbacks either one caused.

For restaurants and other foodservice businesses looking for ways to continue growing and generating more profitability during these uncertain times, possessing a winning marketing strategy focused on targeting local customers in their community is a must. Moreover, those businesses also need to be brainstorming and implementing ways they can lower their overhead expenses and other operational costs. If they succeed in both, they will be the ones who truly emerge from the ashes of the pandemic more victorious than before. This rings especially true as we continue moving forward in today’s hyper-digitalised consumer world.

How we can help

It’s clear that the pandemic disrupts practically every aspect of our life. Right now more than ever, having an online presence is no longer an option. It is essential. And thanks to all the technology available today, a single customer can be found on multiple platforms. Meet your customers where they’re at through multi-channel selling!

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Having your business across channels like marketplaces (Google Shopping, Shopify, etc.), social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc.), online communities and your website is the best way to increase sales! On this note, Top4 is a location-based marketing platform to help local businesses get more leads and customers. With state-of-the-art technology, your Top4 Business Profiles are integrated with major social media and web platforms to help manage businesses with ease.

Our unique platform is designed to deliver to your target market using geographic, categorical and demographic targeting. Top4 can help boost your online visibility and put your local business in front of the right people! Built for you by experts, we make it easy to start and run your business.

This means by being on Top4, you’ll further increase your chance to rank better, drive more traffic to your website and eventually increase sales! Try it today!

To find out how we can help you with your Website + Marketing, using our unique location marketing platform called Top4, get in touch today at www.top4marketing.com

digital marketing tips for hospitality industry

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