With restaurants in select states beginning to reopen at limited levels of capacity, there are many important factors to consider.

Safety, of course, is at the top of everyone’s minds. Ensuring the health of your staff and guests is a point that goes without saying. However, your restaurant’s financial well-being is critically important as well. Depending on how your restaurant manages its reopening will impact its long-term survival.

As much as we hate to say it, just because restaurants are beginning to reopen doesn’t mean you’re in the clear yet. Restaurant analysts believe that for every four independent restaurants that are currently closed, three will not survive. (The New York Times)

Here’s what your restaurant needs to know as it prepares to reopen.

Keep track of what rules are in place. To start off, if you’d like to track state-by-state operations, the Restaurant Business home page features a useful interactive map highlighting what restrictions are in place and where. Granted, if you’re paying attention to local media, you’re probably aware of any reopening plans currently in place for your area.

Either way, it’s important to stay constantly updated. For restaurants in states like Florida, where dining capacity is currently limited to 25% occupancy, you’ll want to know as soon as possible when that number changes so that you can start preparing, planning, and promoting.

Take safety measures. Before you do anything, make sure you follow all safety measures required within your state. As these measures vary from state-to-state, you may want to consider taking additional measures.

Why? Because it’s more than just about being safe. It’s about making your customers feel comfortable during their dining experience. If a customer doesn’t feel safe during their experience, even when your restaurant is following every rule mandated, they may not choose to return to your restaurant. Here’s a few safety measures to think about.

  • Plexiglass between seats. (Here’s some examples featured by Today.)
  • PPE for staff, including gloves and masks.
  • Alternative menu options like disposable menus.
  • Socially distanced seating, spaced six feet apart.
  • Disinfecting tables, countertops, etc. between guest visits.
  • Taking guests’ temperatures before coming inside.

Avoidance for dining out is trending downward. If you’re worried that customers won’t return when you reopen, there is some good news. According to a recent Datassential report (published May 1st), avoidance is softening, with 43% of customers willing to eat out (although 28% of those customers are nervous about doing so).

The report suggests that different consumer segments have different feelings on eating out again, mentioning that baby boomers in particular are the most likely to avoid dining out. However, younger generations, singles, and households with kids are trending in the right direction for restaurants. As you gear up to reopen, you may want to keep this in mind.

People see restaurants as a positive force in their lives. While the future remains uncertain, restaurants can continue to serve as a reminder of how life once was along with how life can be once this crisis has eventually passed. According to the same Datassential report, 71% of customers are reminded of better times when dining out. 70% believe that eating at a restaurant will help them feel normal again.

There are crucial psychological benefits to consider as your restaurant prepares for reopening. People have been cooped up inside their homes for a long time. Focus on giving them the best experience that you can. If you do, you will earn their repeat business, their loyalty, and help ensure your restaurant’s survival.

Prepare with CoGoBuzz

With CoGoBuzz, we want to do our best to help your restaurant. Our state-of-the-art digital marketing service can help your restaurant build and maintain a strong base of loyal customers, which will ultimately help your restaurant survive.

Our service directly promotes your services to customer mobile devices. Leveraging advanced WiFi, SMS, and Email solutions, CoGoBuzz promotes your restaurant both in-store and out. It comes packed with a fully digital, text-based loyalty program, allowing you to let your customers know what services you’re offering – all with just a simple text. Click here to learn more about CoGoBuzz.

Whether you’re one of our current customers, or you’re interested in joining the CoGoBuzz family, we’re committed to helping businesses affected by COVID-19.

For current customers, we’re providing free text message service, allowing you to send a link to order online, purchase gift cards, and/or notify customers of new hours.

For new customers, we’re offering our hardware at cost, donating our services, time, and covering shipping costs. Prepare for the future with CoGoWiFi Free to collect your customers’ phone numbers. There are no contracts or monthly fees, and we offer unlimited customer data storage.

Message from our CEO

“From pricing to packaging, our mission has always been to provide customers with unbeatable value. That’s why, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeking to provide the most aggressive offers to help suffering restaurants survive. We believe that half of small restaurants will fail in the year after operations return to normal. The restaurants that survive and thrive will be the ones that win loyalty and focus on bringing customers back over the following year.”

– Steve Gould, CEO

Click here for more details on how we’re handling the crisis.

How is your restaurant preparing to reopen? Let us know in the comments.