How did Covid-19 affect the catering industry?
When Covid-19 hit Europe, most countries decided to implement a form of lock-down, whether total or partial, when the cases started increasing drastically in order to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. Non-necessary businesses were forced to close temporarily too, including restaurants and retail. Restaurants that did not offer deliver/take-out options prior to the outbreak had to adapt quickly and efficiently; restaurants offering these services also had to rethink their plan of attack to attract more customers to avoid having to shut down permanently. In fact, those restaurants that did not manage to act fast enough suffered the most, along with smaller businesses.
We only need to take a look at Statista’s graph to see the huge decrease of seated diners in restaurants worldwide. Unfortunately, this number still doesn’t exceed -20%, and according to Eater, the majority of owners do not expect a return to normal for another 6 months.
Whilst delivery and take-out are more popular than ever, people are eager to enjoy a sit-down dinner at their favourite restaurant, but what are the risks that owners and customers alike need to be aware of, and the safety measures they need to adopt in order to comply with the current regulations?
Risks and regulations
Opting to dine at a restaurant presents an array of risks, however, these can be greatly reduced if safety measures are respected both by the staff and the customers.
There should be limited indoor and outdoor seating with a 2 metre distance between tables, which should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. Restaurant owners should encourage customers to book a table prior to coming, as well as restrict the maximum guests per tables to 6 people. Using a booking system helps to regulate the influx of people into the restaurants and it is a more efficient way of keeping track of customers for contact-tracing purpose in the worst-case scenario. Service time can be extended in order to limit guests leaving and coming at the same time, avoiding a cluster in the waiting areas and giving staff ample time to clean the tables. The menus should be replaced with either single-use ones or they should be accessible through a QR code, which is a more environmental-friendly option; condiments such as sauces or salt and pepper should also be single-use to limit contact between staff and customers. Furthermore, contactless payments should be encouraged to reduce handling of cards and cash.
Limited indoor and outdoor seating
2 metre distance between tables
Regular and thorough cleaning
Maximum number of guests per tables restricted to 6 people
Single use menus and condiments
Promote contactless payment
Restaurant owners need to make sure that employees are given clear guidance on the procedures that the business decided to implement. According to the regulations, employees should be wearing a face mask or a visor when serving customers and roaring around the restaurant. They should also respect the 1 metre distance when taking orders. Good hygiene is a must and employees should wash their hands whenever in contact with customers or before handling food. If any employee is feeling unwell, they should remain at home and self-isolate if they or any members of the household have any symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive for the virus.
Employees trained to follow new procedures
Mask or visor should be worn at all time
1 metre distance when taking orders
Employees should not go to work if unwell
Customers should also respect the guidelines and regulations in order to keep themselves and the employees safe. These include wearing a mask and sanitising upon entering the restaurant. Their temperature should be taken and if it is higher than the suggested norm, they should be asked to leave the premises. They are also encouraged to keep on their masks until they have sat down by the table, especially if dining indoors, as well as wearing their masks when going to the bathroom or to settle their bill. Customers should be encouraged to use contactless payment methods as much as possible and to use the restaurant’s online booking system prior to dining out - in order to avoid disappointment and waiting lines.
Temperature check and use of sanitiser upon entry
Mask or visor worn until sat down
Using contactless payment methods
Using online booking systems
How will Celery help with re-opening your restaurant?
The best way to overcome the risks of COVID-19 is technology. As stated in the beginning of this article, many restaurants survived thanks to online ordering methods. We are currently living in a post-COVID world, and whilst no one has clear guidance on how to run the business best, technology can provide a new way to respond to challenges and help create a path towards the next “normal”.
The point of sale is a popular solution that already exists but is a competitive advantage for owners. Restaurants can have a cloud-based Point Of Sale that includes many features like table and menu, and inventory management as well as analytic reports. You can rearrange the seating chart, keep track of how long customers have been waiting, and see how your business is doing all in one place! You can even run it on a tablet and use the analytics to manage your business more efficiently.
An online ordering system allows customers to place a takeout or delivery on your restaurant’s website, or your own app, or even a third-party ordering platform. It offers customers a way to enjoy a meal from their favorite restaurant in safety. Moreover, online ordering systems allow restaurants to make an income in spite of this pandemic. You can make profit easily except if you choose a third-party ordering platform - which usually charge high fees per orders - unlike an in-house platform like Celery, that allows your customers to order on your own website or your app, whilst being cheaper.
Online booking system
As aforementioned, an online booking system allows customers to book a table in advance on your website or your app. Thanks to this, you will be able to control your restaurant’s capacity as well as plan ahead to keep your employees and customers safe. Furthermore, you can keep track of who dined in, along with their personal details, in case there is a need for contact tracing.
Contacless payment methods do not require any physical contact between the buyer’s card and the payment terminal. People can also use their smartphone, and settle their bill with an app like Apple Pay. It is a much safer way to pay, and once again, it limits contact between employees and customers, therefore decreasing the risks of spreading the virus.
Loyalty program software
Loyalty programs allow you to turn casual customers into regulars. They also allow restaurant owners to access the customers' personal information and use it to customise their promotions, or to develop target audiences to reach more potential customers.
If 6 months to get back up to speed is too long for your business, why not increase your incoming orders with Celery? Book a Free Demo today!