Shawna Dye Culik
Tips for North Carolina Restaurant Owners During the Pandemic
Restaurants have been one of the hardest hit small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even with outstanding local support and camaraderie among fellow restaurants, many find it has still been difficult to keep their doors open.
We’ve compiled some of the input we have received from clients and neighborhood restaurants who are succeeding despite the pandemic, along with some advice that seems to be universal in a crisis like this. Here’s some of the top tips:
1. Utilize Social Media (a lot!)
With reduced food traffic, it’s important to stay relevant and showcase what you do best. Develop a social media strategy. Use less wordy promotions and more well-edited photos of what you do best, your environment, and who you are. Grab the interest of your followers and cross-promote with other socially-active businesses to gain new followers. Protect yourself legally by never making false claims on social media or using photos that you have not personally taken.
2. Be flexible
It’s important to offer flexibility with how you interact with customers. Offer pick-up, curb-side, and delivery options. Maybe allow pups on the patio. Sticking to only one or two options can lose the interest of customers looking for options that best suit their pandemic comfort zone. Be sure to check legal agreements with delivery services so your business is protected.
3. Review Menus and Prices
To remain profitable, a review of your menu and prices may be in order. Streamline to what a smaller staff can produce and what your most popular items are. This will also reduce supplies that need to be purchased. Raising prices across the board or charging for extras like delivery can be ways to survive overall. Offering beer and wine purchases as part of to-go orders can help boost individual purchases. Just make sure you are legally covered to do this.
4. Treat Your Employees Well
Employees in the food and beverage industry were hit hard because of the pandemic. While many restaurants tried to keep their employees or repurpose them, others were not able to. Work with your employees on unemployment claims and make sure you follow state laws on equal opportunity employment and letting employees go. To avoid possible lawsuits, make sure you communicate clearly each step of the way and are honest about the status of your business. Provide your employees with the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) while they are doing their job and never ask them to be in a situation with customers that would put their health in jeopardy. Make sure your employees feel comfortable letting you know if they become ill or need time off for sickness.
5. Follow State Guidelines for Safety
Keep your customers and employees safe and secure by following state and national safety guidelines for indoor and outdoor dining. Don’t put your business at risk by taking short-cuts. Some of the businesses getting the best reviews right now are the ones who have made the dining experience pleasurable for their customers while following safety protocols.
The universal secret we’ve heard from restaurants that are still going strong during this pandemic are ones that have been able to adapt and face operational challenges. It may be a time to take on a new partner or cross-promote with other businesses. It definitely is a time to get creative and don’t be afraid to try new things.
DYE CULIK PC is a small business and franchise law firm located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our attorneys work hard on the behalf of small businesses to help you succeed and protect yourself and your business. Give us a call at 980-999-3557 if we can help.