Posted on Tuesday, 21st April, 2020
- Use social media channels, text messages and emails to communicate quickly with your customers.
- Increase your efforts to closely supervise food preparation areas and share your procedures with customers.
- Click here to download sign templates that you can display prominently at your venue.
- Ensure customers are aware that hand sanitiser is available at the door of your premises when collecting takeaway orders.
- Promote contactless behaviour by offering PayWave for takeaway orders.
Few food operators in Australia and New Zealand would have encountered a significant health event like COVID-19. It has meant adapting with agility and creativity, learning on the go, and making the best of a challenging situation. Here we discuss ways to ensure your most valuable business asset — your customer base — is kept up-to-date so they can be confident you have their interests at heart during the lockdown.
When social isolation measures were introduced, the normal face-to-face contact that operators and their customers shared on a daily basis came to an immediate and total halt.
Suddenly, the way we would usually conduct business was tipped on its head.
While big businesses might have teams of specialists to call upon in times of crisis, smaller operators have to rely on their wits to get through. A key action is to remain in touch with your customers, and describe how you’re maintaining safety and normality.
With clear, friendly and frequent communication, your business has the opportunity to come out the other side of this period of upheaval with a loyal customer base intact.
An important part of preserving a solid relationship with your customers is to communicate news and updates with speed. And typically, that means employing your social media channels. There wouldn’t be a business that couldn’t benefit from a constant flow of dialogue with customers right now via the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you have an employee whose hours have been cut due to COVID-19, could they assume the role of monitoring your venue’s social media channels and potentially generate daily content on your behalf?
For those businesses that have invested in a customer relationship management (CRM) system that collects email addresses and telephone numbers from patrons, sending email and text messages can feel more personal to recipients. More importantly, you can also use these channels to distribute news quickly.
Some important information to share with your customers at this time includes:
- Extra measures you’re taking to keep them safe.
- News of change in procedures, e.g. contactless delivery.
- A reminder of your opening hours.
- Special offers for vulnerable members of the community, e.g. those who hold a health care card.
- Any changes to your menu.
- Ways to get in touch with you to order food.
Other potential methods of communication include letterbox drops (useful to reach a lot of people when you don’t have a CRM system in place), your website and a sandwich blackboard outside your venue to capture passing foot and road traffic with timely updates.
If you have invested in printed flyers, consider using or adapting them to accompany home delivered meals. These could contain offers that are helpful in generating repeat orders and maintaining customer loyalty.
During this period when takeaway and delivery services are available for hospitality venues, you will have customers coming to your venue to order and/or collect meals.
Use this opportunity to assure them you are taking the COVID-19 situation seriously and have put in place practices to keep both customers and staff safe.
Click here to download a set of sign templates you can display at your point-of-purchase to demonstrate the measures you are taking now and will continue to take. These are designed to ensure customers know that their health and wellbeing is your top priority.
The kind of messages you can share at your venue include:
- Changes in payment methods to avoid handling cash.
- Additional hygiene, cleaning and sanitising practices being undertaken in your kitchen and front-of-house areas.
- Requests to use hand sanitiser upon entering and exiting the store.
- Reminders to practice social distancing whilst on your premises.
- Polite requests for customers to use your home delivery services if they are feeling unwell.
Our set of sign templates also includes notices for posting in kitchens and bathrooms to remind staff of the essential safety and hygiene practices they must maintain to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The type of expected behaviour you should be communicating to your staff include:
- A rigorous hand-washing routine.
- Constant wiping down, disinfecting and sanitising of food utensils and preparation surfaces.
- Observation of social distancing rules.
- Avoidance of any behaviour that is at odds with basic hygiene practices.
- Reminders to stay away from work if experiencing any symptoms of a respiratory illness.