How to Stay Afloat in the Restaurant Industry After COVID-19
By Sam Zietz, CEO of GRUBBRR
As fears surrounding COVID-19 continue to grip the nation, the restaurant industry has been impacted in significant ways. Stay-in-place orders, social distancing measures, and the general fear of the spread of infection have all contributed to the ways in which the industry has been forced to change and adapt in response to this global pandemic. Most significantly and most tragically, there have been an incredible amount of layoffs and closings, and most projections only paint a bleak future. The National Restaurant Association estimates that around three million industry employees have already lost their jobs.
However, there has also been a growing demand for takeout, delivery, and curbside pick-up options. In the world of COVID-19 and the fears and anxieties that will be left in its wake, the industry must turn to technology and cashier-less ordering systems in order to adapt to and survive in the new world order.
First and foremost, it is vital that restaurants do their part to transparently communicate to their customers that measures are being taken to ensure that consumers can engage with their business safely. Many restaurants have taken to social media to stay in touch with their customer base and to keep them engaged. Social media is also a great way to keep customers up-to-date on the latest changes a restaurant might be undertaking in order to re-capture their business.
Advertising a shift to technology can help customers feel safer by eliminating extra human interaction and exchange in the ordering process, and also encourages customers to abide by social distancing guidelines. Moreover, changes to self-service kiosks and online ordering systems fit in easily with the increased demand for takeout, delivery, and curbside pick-up options, many of which are already done online or in some other digital capacity.
Technology and Adaptation
Some fast food businesses have temporarily eliminated cashiers and are pushing customers to order through self-service kiosks.
Even when businesses are operating normally, self-service kiosks and other automated ordering systems provide major advantages. Kiosks have been shown to improve the customer experience by 38%. Kiosks also help streamline the ordering process and enable cashiers to focus their efforts and attention on other parts of the business, whether that be customer service or, in light of COVID-19, cleaning kiosks and other parts of the restaurant to ensure a high standard for hygiene and cleanliness.
Self-service kiosks are an ideal ordering mechanism, because not only do they eliminate contact with a cashier, but they also accept payment by credit and debit cards and thus eliminate the need to handle cash. However, because of cashless bans, GRUBBRR kiosks also come with cash recyclers.
Moreover, we have seen that restaurants are even starting to put kiosks outside in order to reduce foot traffic inside their restaurants. Self-service kiosks can rapidly reduce customer wait-time, which is useful for helping to maintain social distancing protocols. Additionally, a reduced wait-time is good for business: a study reports that consumers associate each second of wait-time with an additional $0.05 cost, which corresponds with an hourly cost rate of almost ten times the average wage of $18/hour. The kiosks would not only provide a sense of safety for customers in line with social distancing protocols by reducing crowding in a confined space, but they would also help to make up for that extra cost.
GRUBBRR also offers a QR code scanner for completely hands-free ordering. The customer just needs to scan the QR code with the camera on their smartphone, and then a digital menu will be downloaded to their phone. They can then order from right outside the restaurant, from the safety of their car, or wherever else they feel comfortable. Once the order is finished, the consumer can then pay with in phone payment options, their credit card, or the tap function. The food can then just be picked up outside the restaurant, or it can be brought directly to the customer in their car.
Long-term Impact – Looking Ahead
Fears over COVID-19 will not simply disappear once stay-at-home mandates are lifted and social distancing measures are not as heavily enforced. Most consumers will still not want to come too close to others, and many will still be very wary of unnecessary human contact. Self-service kiosks and other forms of ordering technology will play a key role in eliminating unnecessary human interaction and easing customer concerns.
This, however, does not necessarily mean that those previously working as cashiers no longer have a place in the restaurant. Cashiers can now transition to other roles in the industry, and this transition can provide a unique up-skilling opportunity. Moreover, the increase in demand for delivery services can present the opportunity for restaurants to adopt an in-house delivery model. For example, we offer an online ordering and delivering platform for a flat monthly fee that would keep the delivery service in-house, would help restaurants recapture on margins being lost to external delivery services, and would give them the opportunity to rehire workers to work now on the delivery end.
Changes in the industry are inevitable in the world of COVID-19. The restaurant industry has notoriously lagged in automation and technology, but in the world of the corona virus, it will not only have to catch up, the restaurant industry must now take the lead in incorporating technology into their businesses in order to survive. For more information www.grubbrr.com