In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have imposed social distancing policies that force restaurants to close their dining rooms. Now, restaurants are banding together and quickly adapting to new technologies to overcome this new challenge and maintain their businesses open.
Eateries across the country have taken creative approaches to leveraging off-site ordering, which, a few weeks prior, would have been only a small portion of revenue. Takeout, Curbside pickup, and delivery services have all been emphasized as effective methods to serve customers while maintaining a safe environment for employees and patrons. Some restaurants are even offering “contactless” ordering methods, with online ordering, pay-by-text services, drop-off delivery, and more.
But for restaurants that don’t already have access to curbside pickup and other technologies that enable contactless service, shutting their doors became the immediate option not to lose their business.
When our team learned about the restaurant closures, and how scarce tech solutions are in the restaurant space, we decided to offer local restaurants a suite of tools to help them curve the rate of loss of business, closures, and employee furloughs.
“For many restaurants, the only means for survival is curbside delivery. We have never offered this service, so we somewhat scrambled to put this in place,” says Larin Warner, owner of The Protein Foundry. “My sister called me and suggested the Podium platform and that it could help our sales right now. She offered to come to our house to get us onboarded and all set up! Podium was the perfect solution for a seamless transition to curbside delivery!”
Throughout all of this, open, convenient channels of communication have also become essential so that restaurants can reassure their customers in this challenging time. By leveraging texting tools for their websites, their teams are able to easily engage with their patrons, updating them about new business hours, improved sanitation policies, and how customers can order.
“Webchat has helped with our production flow and communications to our customers. It has been so nice to not tie up the landline with multiple incoming and outgoing calls, plus our customers have loved texting when they arrive,” said Warner. “Our business has had to make so many changes in this new climate, and we are doing everything we can to stay relevant and adapt to the new mandates to stay open.”
The ability to seamlessly chat with a customer from their initial order, through payment and final pickup has helped restaurants stay open. Local eateries are also creating a sense of safety by enabling their patrons to pay via text and avoid the current discomfort of handing over their cards. Caterers have also benefited from the text to pay approach as patrons can continue supporting their favorite businesses by buying now and enjoying later.
“So far, Webchat and Payments are great for our catering. It is a no-brainer for our communication with customers. I am shocked at how many questions are coming in from our websites every day and how many orders are filled,” says Kyle Roney, owner of 53 Management. “I am confident that when the world goes back to normal, we will increase our bookings for catering, weddings, events, and more because of how quickly we have been able to communicate now.”
Though COVID-19 is causing large-scale effects on restaurants, those that leverage text-based solutions to adapt to the current climate will more easily minimize the crisis’ impact on their business. And by leaning into non-traditional approaches and tapping into the local community, together, we’ll be able to keep restaurants’ doors open, ensuring all of us can revisit them after the crisis subsides.