Since the pandemic began in 2020, the food industry has been on a rollercoaster ride. From nearly 90,000 or more restaurants being forced to shut down to taking dine-in service to the curbside and home doorstep, it’s been an often discouraging environment to run one of these businesses.
When one steps back and tries to find something positive about this experience, many restaurateurs would be hard-pressed to name more than two silver linings from their pandemic experience. But, some good things have resulted from the last two years of struggle and offer restaurant owners a promising future in the industry.
Curious as to what changes are for the better? Read on!
Changes Bettering the Restaurant Industry’s Future
The old saying that every bad experience is a learning experience has never rang truer for any business like restaurants post-pandemic. Below are key positive outcomes that the food industry has experienced as a whole that can benefit your own dining venture.
Local Restaurants see Increased Community Support
As a restaurant, you depend on the communities around you to help your business thrive. A new survey shows that customers are more supportive of local restaurants since the Pandemic for a variety of reasons, including:
- Food preference
- Flavors and options were more interesting or appealing
- Appreciate the atmosphere
- Personally know the employees
- Enjoy supporting local businesses
In addition to these findings, it was also clear that patrons loved local eateries that sourced their products from within the communities served.
Takeaway Experiences are More Convenient
Carryout became the game’s name when COVID-19 forced an economic shutdown in 2020. As a result, restaurants that derived most of their success from providing a stellar dine-in experience had to quickly transition their food services to accommodate new hygiene restrictions and overcome the public stigma around the transmission of the virus.
Despite online food ordering already growing, including through mobile apps, the demand skyrocketed overnight during the pandemic. This put an increased focus on creating a service experience that was convenient and streamlined. Now that the economy has begun to break open, this trend is here to stay because of the increased channels that restaurants can now reach their customer base.
Better Appreciation for Restaurant Business Insurance
Another important positive that came out of the pandemic was the increased inclusion of business insurance as part of a restaurant’s risk management strategy. For many food industry entrepreneurs, having coverage for workplace accidents or foodborne illnesses has always been key to mitigating liability. However, when the economy was temporarily shut down, owners were unsure if their policies would pay for employee wages, lost business income, and other related costs.
With this lesson learned, restaurant owners are educating themselves on the many available policies and how these coverages would work in similar situations. Comprehensive insurance policies have proven to be invaluable lifelines when disaster strikes, whether due to mother nature, illness, or economic hardship.
Recent Technological Changes are Future-Proofing Restaurants
Another positive that came out of the pandemic was restaurant tech. To adapt, restaurants had to invest in modernized mobile apps, CRMs, and data analytics to create safer dining experiences and effective marketing campaigns, especially on social media.
Other proven technologies to run a modern diner include curbside order applications, contactless payment options, scheduling and inventory apps, and self-order kiosks. By automating workflows and relying on digital management software, restaurateurs can boost their profit margins and achieve maximum customer experience without sacrificing quality.
COVID-19 forced many restaurants to slim down their menu offerings to minimize supply waste and labor costs. This focus on operational efficiency and maintaining expected service standards helped many of these businesses to stay afloat despite supply chain delays and inflationary food prices.
Fast forward two years and menu engineering has become essential to building meal offering that focuses only on high-profit items. Owners now have a better understanding of their market audience’s psychology when it comes to food pricing, presentation, advertising, and order.
Safety and Hygiene are Even More Standardized
Before COVID, the public cared about a restaurant’s cleanliness, but the pandemic heightened awareness. This put more pressure on the hospitality industry to re-evaluate and improve these processes, which in turn, garnered more loyalty from consumers.
Today, this is proving to be a positive selling point for many restaurants, creating an ROI on the many supplies and new technologies put in place to create a safer dining experience.
What Will Your Restaurant Look Like in the Future?
While the COVID-19 pandemic was a time of crisis, uncertainty, and economic hardship, it did help create a few positive incomes that will benefit the restaurant industry for decades to come. Some lessons were hard-learned, but business owners will come away with a sharper risk management strategy and a broader understanding of their solutions.
The biggest takeaway many experts can agree on is that complacency in how one operates their restaurant can lead to an inability to pivot when trends take a sudden left turn. To create a future-proof restaurant, expect to incorporate a blend of technology that streamlines operations, drives efficiency and prioritizes customer experiences while minimizing risk through carefully tailored insurance coverages. Then, no matter when an off-day, month, or year strikes, accommodating new demands and changes won’t hold your business or your customers back.