While this pandemic has been tragic for countless individuals, there are some astute restaurant owners who are seizing this time as an opportunity to address any shortcomings in their business. With many restaurants still not operating their dine-in service, or only accommodating half capacity, there has never been a better time to make updates or changes to your operations without them causing a major disruption.
It’s also clear that the post-COVID world is going to be much different than how things were in 2019. To help make sure that your restaurant doesn’t become outdated and fall behind, you’ll want to future-proof it by implementing the following changes during this pandemic.
1. Optimize Your Menu to Include Only Popular Items
When you look at your menu, is it closer to being a novel than a haiku? If so, that’s a problem. Giving too many choices creates several issues for both you and your customers.
From a customer perspective, having a ton of choices might sound like a good thing, but it actually tends to overwhelm and confuse people. Having an extensive menu also means that you are going to have to order a much larger range of ingredients on a regular basis. This spikes operational costs, which is particularly devastating during times like a pandemic when restaurants are already struggling to keep their doors open.
Experts have determined that the optimal number of choices to have on your menu is seven items per category. Assuming that your menu is split into categories like appetizers, pizzas, drinks, sides, and desserts, that gives you up to 35 items to include in your menu, which still gives customers plenty of choices.
Take this time to look at your menu and try to optimize it by paring it down to the limit of seven items per category. There are a few different ways that you could go about doing this. Through tools like SpeedLine Inventory, you can see which items are the least profitable, and then choose to give those the axe. But the easiest method is to check your sales reports to see which items are the least popular and remove those.
2. Properly Evaluate Your POS System
How user-friendly and capable is your POS system? If you answered anything less than “extremely” then this is the time to address this problem. Without a sufficient POS, your restaurant is going to suffer in every aspect.
“If you don’t have a good POS system, it just makes life so much harder.” - Frank Prainito, Jet’s Pizza
When it comes to running a pizzeria, there are a few POS must-haves if you want to ensure you’re using a system that meets your needs. Must-haves include conversational ordering, directed order entry, unlimited customizable coupons and promotions, visual dispatch, online ordering, custom reporting, and much more. If your current POS doesn’t have all of these things, then this slower period gives you an opportunity to upgrade to a system that can help secure your place as one of the top pizza brands around.
3. Accommodate More Payment Methods
It’s undeniable that cash spending is on its way out. Instead, it’s being replaced with transactions that are paid for using credit cards, smartphones, or other similar methods. In fact, only 18% of Americans still use cash to pay for the majority of their purchases.
So if your pizzeria still isn’t accepting these digital forms of payment, then you’re going to be alienating the vast majority of customers. That’s why you need to upgrade your payment systems to be able to accept increasingly popular forms of payment such as chip and PIN, NFC contactless, and smartphones.
4. Offer Online Ordering Methods
One of the fastest ways to become antiquated in today’s industry is to refuse to offer online methods of ordering food. If customers are forced to physically visit your store or call you in order to place an order, then most people are going to opt for a much easier option. That’s why you need to implement a comprehensive online ordering system that will make you far more appealing to the 45% of Americans who strictly rely on digital methods of ordering their food.
5. Pivot Away From Third-Party Delivery
While delivery is important, especially during this pandemic, how you offer it matters. A lot of pizza restaurants rely on third-party delivery services because it is appealing to independent stores that are reluctant to supply their own drivers and delivery systems. But if you want to achieve long-term success, then you’re much better off spending the time and resources to operate your own in-house delivery.
“Third-party delivery is quite costly, so we decided to offer our own. But the popularity of third-party has definitely made it harder to build your own delivery program.” - Mike Fredrickson, Papa Murphy’s Canada
By having in-house delivery, you ensure that your customers will receive a consistent experience when they order delivery from your restaurant. Plus, you will also give customers the ability to support your store directly, rather than giving a large chunk of change to some faceless delivery service. Supporting local is something that 70% of customers actively prefer. Not having to pay an additional fee means more profitable delivery, which is another huge upside to not using third-party delivery services.
6. Establish a Loyalty Program
Many restaurateurs put their focus largely on attracting new customers. But your first and foremost concern should always be maintaining the customer relationships that you already have, especially if you’re trying to future-proof your brand. While winning over new customers is great, you’ll end up spending up to five times more acquiring a new customer than what it costs to retain an existing one.
A great way to try and nurture your existing customer relationships is to establish a pizzeria loyalty program that rewards customers and encourages them to order as often as possible.
If you really want your loyalty program to be a success and promote sales, then you’ll need to make joining the program as simple as possible. An easy way to do this is by limiting the information required to sign up. For example, if your loyalty program requires a customer’s address, they will be 71% less likely to join. If done successfully, loyalty programs can be a great way to help secure a loyal customer base that will continue supporting you well into the future.
Between revitalizing your menu, upgrading your POS, and acting on the other tips mentioned in this guide, you can help ensure that your store is ready for takeoff when the pandemic ends and isn’t starting two steps behind when the next major disruption occurs. Whether this is another pandemic or some other major national or global event, you’ll have the right tools to help survive it and keep thriving well into the future. If you’re interested in finding out more about how COVID-19 has impacted the pizza industry and how you can better position your restaurant during this lockdown, read our deep-dive infographic on this topic.
Posted on Wed, Dec 02, 2020 @ 08:12 AM.
Updated on January 5, 2021 @ 6:07 PM PST.
Brandon is the Marketing Content Specialist for SpeedLine Solutions and is on a personal mission to find the tastiest slice of pizza on Earth. As a proud Canadian, he fully endorses the use of pineapple on pizza and is always ready to debate anyone who thinks otherwise.