Updated: May 5, 2020
Last week many employees staged sick-ins or walked off the job because they did not feel safe or protected in their work environment. In the scramble to restart your business or to keep up with the regulations while performing essential services it is more important than ever to step back and observe your operation. What would someone watching your team say about their performance in the light of COVID? How will it affect your brand identity? What will others say about your business to their friends and family? I have been ordering takeout meals from local chains and single ownership restaurants periodically throughout the quarantine. There have been simple things that made me feel good about ordering from a restaurant. Some of the owners personally thank you for your order even if it is just a single meal. The person coming curbside is friendly and maintains their distance but still makes you feel appreciated for the effort. I noticed that the businesses that got it right were creative and thought outside the box, they did not close just because they did not have a drive thru lane.
Business that Got It Right: Knew their customer base:
Transformed business from Dine-in to Take-Out/Curbside/No Contact Delivery
Considered their primary customer base and made accommodations with that in mind.
- Seniors in high-risk group using restaurant for primary meal
- Customers that wanted no contact payment options
- Assisted them with the technology and made it easy.
- Made exceptions for special delivery
Understand Visual Appearance of Safety is important to customers
Wearing gloves when handling customer items and disposing of them after each customer
Taking care when handing your order thru a window or asking if they can place in trunk or unoccupied back seat.
Keeping social distancing when interacting with cars but also with staff.
Process & Convenience
Updating technology for ordering easy menus, tip options, contact payment
Area for special requests condiments on the side, extra sauce, etc.
Delivery comments for no contact delivery:ring bell or text when left on porch or close to arriving
Easy to find, download and user-friendly apps
Directional signage for where to park and how to contact restaurant
Exceptional Customer Service
Appreciation for your patronage and friendly greetings
Promotions bring your pet and having pet treats, drive thru grill outs, etc.
Sharing marketing on social media: i.e. Daily menus and specials
Email discount offers and specials
Posting how they got their ideas on social media, showing that they listened to customers and staff.
Promoted Their Brand
Flyer in your order detailing all the steps taken to keep your order safety and healthy: gloves changed after each order, one person packs your order, daily temperatures, physical distancing, etc.
Embracing that we are in this together by posting pictures of their own carryout from other local restaurants and shout outs to other restaurants for creative ideas, awards, promotions, etc.
Staying Connected with the Community
- KY is lighting up green to honor those lives lost to COVID. Restaurants are lit up green when you drive by after dark.
- Flying flags at half-mast across KY.
- Donating a day’s sales to their employee fund.
- Posting staff bios on social media with appreciation.
- Celebrating birthdays, work anniversaries, grand kids… anything to make a connection with the brand.
The Flip Side
Just reverse the above bullet points and you will quickly see the missed marks. There are a couple things that you might not guess.
1. I arrived at restaurant for pickup after ordering and paying online the day before Easter. The restaurant had a note on the door that stating, “We ran out of food”. The staff was obviously trying to hide inside. At least 15 people arrived and left bewildered and disappointed. They did email an apology the next day, but it did not state estimated time frame for refund or how it would be refunded. The money for the order was refunded eventually but it took 5 days. Can you imagine what was on the social media sites that night and the next day? What did they tell their family and friends? How many will not give them another chance?
2. The other prevalent visual I have noticed is staff not wearing the masks properly (hanging off one ear, under the nose, under the chin), standing in tight circles hanging out and socializing. Every customer facing step can be executed perfectly, but if these things are seen it will destroy the brand visual you created and your customer trust.
Ask yourself these questions about your business:
What would your employees or customers say about your environment?
Do they trust that you are trying to follow the guidance and keep them safe & healthy?
Are you communicating your appreciation for their efforts?
Are you displaying your understanding that change is hard for everyone?
Are you communicating all the things you are doing to keep employees & customers safe and healthy?
Are you asking for feedback? Are you listening?
Will your employees/customers return or look for another business who is showcasing their brand?
COVID-19 is a HUGE opportunity for BRAND Awareness! Embrace it! Make your BRAND a positive voice in the community.