As diner confidence continues to grow across the country, it is imperative that restaurants turn their focus to recreating the wonderful benefits only an authentic dine-in experience can offer. Diners are hungry for restaurants with safe, approachable and efficient operations. So here are a few ways you can get their attention and gain their trust in a post-pandemic world.
KEEP IT CLEAN
Since the beginning of the pandemic, diners have become increasingly aware of cleanliness. In fact, according to a Medallia study, 79% of consumers say that going forward, they will seek out the health and safety standards that businesses have in place before visiting. With this in mind, it’s important to communicate and clearly show your sanitation measures so that customers trust in the care you are taking to keep them safe—especially the protocols that have already become routine, from wiping down seating areas between guests to spacing out your waiting areas, and making masks and gloves part of your teams attire. As we’ve covered in the past, keeping visual cues around for your guests can help put them at ease to better enjoy the in-restaurant experience.
CONVENIENCE IS KEY
Making diners feel welcome by making their experience as seamless as possible can help your restaurant stand out. According to a Vixxo survey on what diners value most about their favorite restaurants prior to the pandemic, 38% said that it’s the overall experience of an establishment—including atmosphere, employees and convenience. Consider conveniences like an online waitlist, an option to pre-order and contactless payment options that can help increase the chances of even the most cautious customers choosing you.
KEEP THE FAVORITES & KEEP IT FRESH
The pandemic may have forced you to re-evaluate your menu. And it appears that those adjustments may be a good idea to maintain as your restaurant returns to 100% dine-in capacity. In fact, according to Mintel research on US restaurant marketing strategies, removing foods that are not takeout-friendly or those that are low margin will continue to serve restaurants well even after the pandemic. But still, history shows that diners enjoy and appreciate menu innovation, so don’t be afraid to keep menu items on that continue to perform while trying seasonal, monthly or limited-time menu recipes.
SPEEDY DOES IT
Just as restaurants were quick to turn into pop-up grocery stores and set up curbside pickup operations seemingly overnight, staying flexible and in-touch with the needs of your diners will be critical for your restaurant’s long-term success. As Medallia put it, since the pandemic, “customers expect more from brands today and they expect it faster.” Sending your diners a short, quick feedback via SMS or asking for open-ended feedback tied to a bounce back offer may help you better navigate what makes or breaks a memorable dine-in experience and what your diners expect in the moment.
Ultimately, diners will return to the restaurants that they believe provide them with the best value and experience. While the capacities and seating arrangements may change, food quality, consistency, conveniences and cleanliness will continue to be the defining factors for welcoming your diners back for more.