Independent restaurants are less likely to survive the pandemic. It’s a sad reality that many are being forced to confront as cases continue to surge across the U.S.

As we highlighted in our discussion from last week, a stunning report from the Independent Restaurant Coalition found that 85% of independent restaurants could find themselves permanently closed without federal funding. On top of that, Restaurant Business is reporting even more dining room reclosings across the country, many of which are located in key markets for the industry. Literally as I was writing this article, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all restaurants in California to close indoor operations.

These closures don’t paint a good picture for anyone in the restaurant industry, but they’re particularly detrimental to local independents. A report from Bank of America (CNBC) found that, while big restaurant chains have essentially recovered from the pandemic, the rest of the industry isn’t close yet. Independent restaurants and small chains are lagging in sales by about 20%.

I want to make something clear. Don’t let these numbers intimidate you. They’re there as a reminder, not a death sentence for your restaurant. I’m confident that if your restaurant has made it this far that you’re savvy enough to keep your doors open.

In order to survive, independent restaurants need to put their best foot forward. We’re several months into this pandemic, and there’s a lot the entire industry has learned. These lessons need to be applied moving forward. And they need to be applied as soon as possible.

Even if you’re forced to close your dining room again, there are things you can do to help make sure your restaurant survives for the long haul. Not only that, but there are actually distinct advantages independent restaurants hold over their corporate brethren.

For starters, independents have the capability to be far more agile. While big chains certainly have more sophisticated marketing campaigns in place, backed by gigantic budgets, independents can be more flexible as they do whatever it takes to stay open. In a time like this, where things are constantly changing, that’s critical. Independents need to leverage social media, digital marketing, and their communities in order to stand out.

Customer loyalty will be a critical factor. Independent restaurants have loyal followings, and those followings must be enticed on a consistent basis. Loyalty is more important than it’s ever been. Appeal to your loyal customers and do everything that you can to meet their needs. Delivering a more personalized experience will set your restaurant apart from the competition.

One of the main reasons big chains have been able to mitigate the damage from the pandemic is because they were more equipped to handle the shift from in-store dining to takeout/delivery. While your restaurant has almost certainly adapted to the world of at-home dining at this point, it should (ideally) be prepared to survive in a situation where that’s the only option. Closure orders can drop at any moment. Don’t assume it’s not going to happen.

Stay Open With CoGoBuzz

As your restaurant continues to navigate the pandemic, we want to help keep the doors open. With CoGoBuzz, we’re here to foster your success. 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.

What is your restaurant doing to keep its doors open? Any advice to share? Let us know in the comments.

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