People in cafe with brown tables.
Unsplash/Spencer Davis

Businesses operations are constantly changing during COVID-19 as evolving government regulations impact the way that restaurants can operate. 

How to Stay Connected with Customers During COVID-19

It's key to make it easier for customers to see how your restaurant is dealing with the pandemic and how they can safely visit your business. 

Life during COVID-19 is confusing. People across the country are unsure and anxious about their options and futures, even as it relates to small details like how they can safely enjoy their favorite restaurants. 

That’s where you come in. 

As a restaurant operator, you can relieve some of your customer’s anxieties by staying connected with them during this confusing time. You can design a clear COVID-19 communication plan that makes it easier for customers to see how your restaurant is dealing with the pandemic and how they can safely visit your business. 

1. Create a COVID-19 landing page on your website. 

Businesses operations are constantly changing during COVID-19 as evolving government regulations impact the way that restaurants can operate. 

Make it easy for customers to always know how these changes impact your restaurant by creating a COVID-19 resource page on your website. The COVID-19 landing page should mention your:

On-site dining options. Tell customers what you have done to your dining room to make it safer. Have you spaced out tables? Do you have outdoor seating? Do you offer contactless ordering? Let customers know.  

Takeout and delivery options. Tell customers how they can enjoy food from your restaurant without eating in the dining room. It’s especially important to share these details if takeout and delivery options are new to your restaurant. Also, include links that take customers directly to pages to order online. 

Restaurant safety procedures to protect staff and customers. Make your customers feel safe by sharing the details of what you are doing to protect them and your team.

Menu changes. Note any menu items that have been added or removed due to COVID-19 conditions. Also, highlight menu times that lend well to your new options. For example, highlight foods that are good for families or hold up well during delivery. 

2. Make it easy for customers to access your COVID-19 resource page. 

To stay connected with your customers, make sure your COVID-19 resource page is easy to find by highlighting it on your website homepage and social media channels. 

On your homepage, create a banner that goes across the top of the page or add an immediate call-to-action and button near the top of the page. Also, add the link to your COVID-19 resource page to your social media profiles so customers can quickly click to find relevant details.

3. Share updates—and listen to feedback.

When your restaurant introduces changes due to COVID-19, first make changes to your COVID-19 landing page. Then, share the updates with your customers through:

Social media posts. Make timely updates through your social media platforms to share any changes. Pin posts that share the most relevant information. 

Email marketing. Send regular email updates that introduce any changes or updates. 

Text marketing. With a much higher open rate than email marketing, text marketing is a powerful way to stay connected with customers. 

And, remember: communication goes both ways.

Share updates with your audience, but also give them an opportunity to communicate with you. Invite them to message you with questions, and engage in social listening to look for conversations related to your brand that you can address and answer. 

4. Highlight your dining options on local media platforms.  

Customers are looking for restaurant options that align with their COVID-19 concerns. In particular, customers are looking for locations that offer takeout, delivery, contactless service, and outdoor seating. They will look at your website to see if you offer these options. They may also look to local media platforms to tell them what options they have.

Look for local media sites that curate lists of restaurants that are shifting their business options to cater to COVID-conscientious customers. For example, in Tampa, created a list of “Downtown Restaurants Offering Delivery and Takeout,” and in Asheville, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) created a website that lists the dining options of local restaurants. 

Find local lists like these, and share your restaurant dining options with the local media platforms that are curating lists to help local customers navigate this new world of eating out. 

5. Encourage customers to get and stay connected. 

Sharing updates with customers through social media, email, and text marketing is only effective if your customers are already following you. So, launch initiatives that encourage new audiences and customers to join your list so they can stay connected.

Run a campaign that gives away a coupon or discount for joining your list or following your brand. Let customers know why it’s important to follow you. Remind them that things are always changing and the best way to know what to expect is by following you. And, make it easy for them to sign up by using simple email and text marketing sign-up tools. 

The only thing we really know about COVID-19 is that we don’t know what to expect. 

Things are going to continue to change, and customers are going to continue to need to know about how these changes impact your restaurant. Follow the steps in this post to create a communication plan that will help both loyal and new customers connect with your brand and stay connected during COVID-19. 

Alan Roberts believes that building communities is essential for brands to stay connected to local consumers. As the Market Development Manager for MyArea Network, a tech-media company specializing in local marketing, he focuses on helping companies, from small independent businesses to multi-location brands, find the best methods to build brand awareness, increase sales, and generate leads. Follow him on LinkedIn for more tips on attracting and engaging local customers near your brick-and-mortar business.

read more