How to Keep Your Restaurant Business Running during COVID-19: Communication

Talia Bennick
March 13, 2020
Talia is Director of Strategic Growth at Humm.

What can you do to make your guests feel more comfortable and safe in your restaurant with the mayhem and stressors of coronavirus? As conferences and festivals around the country face cancellations, schools close, workforces stay at home, and Purell and Clorox wipes are few and far between, people are thinking twice before dining out. A restaurant group is losing $1 million dollars in revenue a day due to consumer fears. How can we assuage these fears and keep our guests coming back during this hectic time?

It’s essential to your business that you communicate your restaurant’s COVID-19 precautions to your guests before, during, and after their dining experience, even better if you can do it in a way that will bring a smile to their faces.

What protocols have restaurants been implementing since the outbreak? 

Restaurants are taking a myriad precautions, which they have incorporated into their daily workflows. This is at the top of each employee’s mind, and many are going above and beyond to maintain a clean and safe restaurant environment, not only for guests but also themselves.

  1. All team members are washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (two rounds of Happy Birthday)
  2. Cleaning and disinfecting objects, like menus and check presenters after each guest interaction, and wiping down surfaces, like tables, register counters, door knobs, and toilets, that have been touched regularly
  3. Providing Purell at counters for fast casual business, and extra napkins at tables so guests can cover their mouth while coughing or sneezing
  4. If the restaurant is not at capacity, keep an empty table between two parties rather than seating them next to each other.
  5. Modifying paid time off policies to ensure that employees, who are showing signs of illness or have sick family members, can stay home while not getting negatively impacted by loss of income.
  6. Not penalizing guests with reservation cancellation fees if they can’t make it because of illness

How can restaurants ease customer concerns during COVID-19?

The key to reassurance is communication, communication, communication. Creating messaging and content about the COVID-19 protocols you are taking will ensure new customers still make reservations and your regulars keep coming back during these challenging times. Go ahead and have a bit of fun with it. 

4 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Customers During COVID-19

1) Create fun Instagram stories of the team setting tables with "white medical glove" service or disinfecting menus before service.

2) Get a Happy Birthday Playlist on loop in the bathrooms. Have fun with it by adding songs like Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” or Stevie Wonder’s rendition. It’s a fun way to behaviorally nudge proper handwashing.

3) Send a message to your guests before their reservation communicating precautions and protocols that the team is taking to ensure that they have a comfortable and clean dining experience. 

4) Gift your diners with a delivery promo code for Postmates, Seamless, or UberEats as a thank you. Delivery services have seen an uptick in sales as high as 26% over the last few weeks due to COVID-19. Make sure you’re primed to take advantage of that opportunity.

We know this will be a challenging time for many hospitality businesses, and communicating with your guests will be more important than ever. Reach out to us at Humm if you need guidance on measuring customer satisfaction, and stay tuned for Part Two of this series.

Stay in Communication With Your Customers

Repeat takeout business is key to your success in the coming weeks, and it's essential to maintain open lines of communication with your customers. With the goal of supporting restaurants during this challenging time, Humm is offering 2 free months of Live Text to restaurants, which will let your customers text you directly after their meal. It takes only one minute to sign up

*This Humm Live Text offer ($700 value) is running for a limited time