With 40% of states in the U.S. announcing reopening dates for on-premise dining at restaurants, we’re tracking how technology can help operators rebuild their business while adhering to their state’s guidelines. Nearly every state is operating under different restrictions and our goal is to provide insight into systems and solutions to meet these new challenges.
Many states are requiring reservations to be made in advance of dining or one member of the party can wait for a table while the rest wait outside or in their vehicle. Other states make it mandatory that waiting parties are six feet distanced from each other, not an easy task with small spaces with tables already pushed six feet apart.
- OpenTable (currently waiving fees)
- Yelp Reservations (currently waiving fees)
- Resy (currently waiving fees)
- Tock (currently waiving fees)
Delivery & Takeout
San Francisco became the first city to cap delivery fees to 15%. Since then, municipalities across the country have started or proposed to follow suit. While the debate continues, many operators still require a delivery service for their food and not every guest has the ability to visit an operation for takeout.
Delivery Route Optimization
To avoid the delivery fees altogether, some operations are converting their out-of-work front of house employees to delivery drivers. Operators should be sure to include hired and non-owned insurance to their policies and as a way to optimize delivery drivers’ times, they can look at these options:
Many restaurants and bars are looking for ways to reduce their credit card fees. Anytime a card is ‘keyed in’, the fee percentage will be higher, and this is the case for many online ordering systems as well. This is because the chance of fraud is higher when being manually typed in and therefore only swiping a card helps ensure its being used by the right person. Even with the additional costs, online ordering allows for contactless handoffs and helps streamline operations rather than having someone tied up answering the phone all day. More advanced systems can also be set to throttle orders once a certain limit is reached to ensure the kitchen can keep up and produce a quality product. This list is kept shorter on purpose as there are no shortage of companies that offer the service in some capacity.
- Open Dining
- Clover POS
Louisiana has allowed for outdoor dining to return but is not allowing any table service. Additionally, some companies are reporting the struggle to rehire staff that know capacity will not be returning to normal levels anytime soon and opting to collect the federal $600 unemployment bonus. This is where providing online menu offerings that are specific for on-premise locations and built for mobile devices come in handy.
The number one factor that guests are conveying about hesitation to revisit restaurants and bars continues to be cleanliness and sanitation. Operations would be smart to market and add more regularly schedule cleanings that are very visible and apparent to guests. Here are a few apps that allow operations to set up, schedule, and monitor cleaning procedures. These documented activities could be helpful with guest relations, state/health department compliance, and any issues from guests claiming they contracted COVID-19 from a venue.
Self-Serve Beverage Programs
Between having less staff on hand and guests looking to limit the number of contacts their beverages may go through, consider investing in options for self-service.
In addition to many POSs offering gift card as a part of their system, here are two other options to help encourage guests to purchase a gift card for their friends, family, or next visit.
- Gift Up!
Other Contactless Payment Options:
- Facebook Messenger
With capacity cut in half or more, the need to manage inventory to ensure the highest possible profits through yield management is very important. Operators should look to reduce food and beverage offerings to help secure bulk discount deals where possible and help reduce spoilage and waste.
- Backbar (offering six months free before June 15th)
Bonus: Meal Kits
At 25% or 50% capacity, traffic levels are not high enough to meet the demands for rent, payroll, and all the other overhead. The notion of upselling has never been more important. We’ve included a list of meal kit services for operations to learn from. Use their playbook or even order one or two kits to research the setup and execution. Send diners home with several meals to heat up later to limit their trips out of the house.
Even Chick-Fil-A launched their meal kit yesterday and acclaimed restaurant, Alinea, is selling $35 dinner to go which has brought their revenue back up to 75% before COVID-19 as reported by Bloomberg.
- Hello Fresh
- Blue Apron
- Marley Spoon
- Home Chef
- Green Chef
Please email any additional helpful technology solutions to the author here.