The weather and the restaurant delivery demand forecast are improving.
In our last edition of Phil’s Field Notes (PFN), we said we were cautiously optimistic about the restaurant industry, but this month we’re feeling even more upbeat.
March was a good month for restaurants, continuing a pattern of year-over-year growth, and we predict April to be similarly strong. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, seven in 10 restaurant operators expect economic conditions to improve over the next six months.
In the past, many expected this increased demand for food delivery to dwindle as the weather warmed up and vaccination became more widespread, but restaurant delivery remains very strong for the moment.
A new customer base has emerged over the last year as takeout and delivery offer a little variety during long stretches spent at home. There’s good reason to expect these new fans to stick around for a long time. We believe we’re seeing genuine habit formation around food pickup and delivery, which is great news for restaurants.
Another positive development: The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, a $28.6 billion federal aid program, is accepting applications. According to the New York Times, the money will go fast. If you plan to apply, act now.
Staffing is the number one challenge faced by the restaurant industry right now. Not all restaurants can compete with robust unemployment benefits and government stimulus checks, which makes it difficult to retain talented staff.
As a restaurant owner or manager, an important strategy to combat gaps in staffing is to cross-train your team. It’s risky when only one person can perform a particular job. You need a team of adaptable individuals who can learn new skills quickly and be flexible when it comes to each day’s tasks. Keep an eye out for opportunities to diversify each of your team members’ skills and knowledge.
Another key tactic is to maximize your food delivery system. As we mentioned, demand for food delivery is still strong. A robust and easy-to-use delivery software can help you manage deliveries smoothly and keep your customers happy.
With a strong team and the right restaurant delivery platform, you have a powerful advantage against the challenges of the labor shortage.
Another way to retain a competitive edge: strict and proud adherence to cleanliness practices. Many customers are still nervous about eating out and care deeply about cleanliness. You can earn their trust and soothe their fears by openly sharing your commitment to their health and safety.
Requirements vary by state, but here in Colorado, we have a five-star certification process that includes temperature checks for staff and customers, tracing, and air purification. It’s a rigorous practice, but we are proud to uphold it for the sake of our customers’ peace of mind, our team’s safety, and the continued success of our restaurants.
On a lighter (musical) note:
In spite of ongoing hesitation to eat out, it’s a safe bet that we all miss our favorite local hangouts. We’ve been loving this creative solution for capturing the ambiance of a night out: www.imissmybar.com. Use the sliders to mix together your favorite background noises: the chatter of a full room, the clink of glasses, the bustle of the street outside. Crack open your drink of choice, close your eyes, and enjoy!
Finally, don’t neglect your #1 business asset
That would be you.
This is a crazy business under normal circumstances—and we wouldn’t have it any other way—but the last year has pushed us all to our limits. Sleepless nights, long hours, and constantly changing regulations and restrictions have kept us on our toes. As the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter, remember to take good care of yourself. A few tips:
- Move your body. Go for a walk, ride your bike to the library, do some pushups.
- Sleep! You make better decisions and produce better work with seven or eight hours of shuteye every night. Getting enough sleep also keeps your moods steady and makes you a better teammate.
- Unplug. Even just fifteen minutes away from your phone every day can feel like a mini-vacation. We especially recommend leaving your phone inside and relaxing on your front porch or a park bench. You may find that this little reset makes room for your next brilliant business idea.