by Dan Beaulieu
My mother always says there is a way, no matter what the challenge, no matter how steep the hill you have to climb, there is always a way. And that is pretty much what we all face in these dark times of COVID-19. We have to find a way to not only survive, but to keep our businesses growing.
As a business strategist, companies pay me to find ways for them to grow. Companies call me when they are having a hard time, they are stuck in a rut and are not growing, or worse yet, call me when they are on the severe slide towards bankruptcy. It’s not an easy job, but it is a challenging one to say the least. And, I am happy to say that most of the time I do manage to find a way to stop the slide and get them back on track. I’m very fortunate because I win more than I lose.
That kind of strategic thinking for the past 25 years has allowed me to hone my skills when it comes to helping companies and people when they are going through hard times.
So, obviously, as I sit in my home office, communicating with my customers via phone calls, emails and video conferencing, I have had a lot of time to think about what small local businesses here in Maine can do to make sure they survive during these times.
Recently I considered the dilemma of those people who own restaurants, businesses, that are focused on feeding people. What can they do to make sure they stay in business during this pandemic? I know that some have turned to take-out service, people ordering by phone, or on-line and either coming to pick up their orders curbside or getting home delivery. That is a great idea for sure, But, then what can these restaurants do to be truly outstanding at this?
Here are several ideas for being outstanding at your restaurant’s take out service:
- Design your menu to offer the best take out on the market. Upscale your take-out menu and offer your favorites…what your restaurant is known for. Exceed the offerings of traditional take out fare.
- Offer detailed prep instructions. If you are known as a great steak house for example, tell people how to prepare the food once they get it home. How do they warm the meat and potatoes, so they are as good as when you are sitting in their restaurants?
- Offer a complete family-style sit down dinner, for four, or five or six.
- Create special offers. Do some merchandizing that will appeal to customers. A special Sunday night family pizza package at a great price. Or a make Friday night Mexican night! Or like in the old Prince commercials, make Wednesday spaghetti day. And make sure you offer these at a great price.
- Get the word out. We have social media. Start a Facebook page, use Twitter and especially Instagram, or better yet place a weekly menu ad in this fine weekly newspaper. Or go old school and pass out flyers. Just make sure you get the word out to your market so that people will know where you are, what you are offering and what great savings it will be.
Look, these are just five simple ideas, and I am sure some of you are already doing some of these if not all of them. But the point is, if you think about you, you are the expert of your own restaurant and if you get creative and innovative you too can come up with even better ideas to make sure you keep growing your business even in these, the most difficult of times.