The news about the imminent reopening of hospitality businesses in Germany came as a surprise. Although it had been longed for quite some time, this won’t be a return to normality. The minimum safe distance between groups of guests must be 1.5 metres and only a limited number per table is permitted. The infection prevention measures enormously affect all work processes.
Many restaurateurs are “on their last legs”. They worry if the limited number of guests will be sufficient for the required turnover and how guests will behave. Will guests visit restaurants and cafés, despite strict protection and hygiene measures?
The coming weeks will require a lot of intuition to satisfy your guest’s needs, and high creativity to adapt your own concept to the changed economic conditions. In the gastronomy sector, the last few weeks have shown many developments pointing to economically viable approaches.
1. Fewer items on the menu
With a manageable menu, you not only reduce the complexity of work processes, you can also offer more fresh products. Maybe you develop new dishes with your supplier or producer of individual goods.
An example: Dominik Klier and Theo Lindinger offer exciting potato dishes from their compact kitchen of their potato stand "Caspar Plautz" at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich. The combination of high-quality potatoes with fresh market products and unusual spices makes their dishes so excitingly different. Theo has learned the following since opening his booth: "The potato is something simple and yet it also has something emotional, because many people associate childhood memories with it”.
2. Focus on high-margin food
If you have oriented the prices of your food to the competitors' in the past, you might consider a recalculation. It is also worth evaluating your cash register system. Check which dishes were the most popular and see which dishes had the highest contribution margin based on your calculation. In this article we will go into this topic in detail.
In the future, it will be even more crucial to sharpen your own concept and position yourself. This will help you to communicate more clearly with your guests via a wide variety of channels. Every restaurant business will advertise in the next few weeks, so now it is key to getting and keeping your (potential) guest’s attention. Try to gain attention with clear offers on different marketing channels.
If you believe marketing is rather tedious and you don't have a budget for a social media expert, then check the profiles of other restaurateurs. Learn from influencers; how they present stories and how they present their food and drinks visually appealing. The selected "hashtags" are also important in this context. Examples of successful Instagram accounts are: Salt & Silver (about 24,000 followers); Beets & Roots (about 10,000 followers); Man vs Machine Coffee Roasters (about 14,000 followers); Malefiz - Café Bar (about 4,900 followers).
4. Second and third alternatives
Because of the limitation of guests in your rooms it is not enough to rely only on your restaurant business. Do you have access to special products that are not available in retail stores or are of lower quality? You could offer them in your restaurant and additionally in the online shop on your website.
Which partnerships would offer added value? Would any of your food classics be suitable for a cooking box sales offer comprising the recipe and all ingredients? Maybe you already identified suitable dishes for a pickup or delivery service during the corona crisis and might wish to extend your offer.
Example: Even before the corona crisis, the owners of the Restaurant am Golfplatz in Bad Mergentheim had built up several pillars. Besides catering on weekends, they regularly supply local companies from Monday to Friday and provide lunch for employees. The team around chef Andreas Bundschuh also concentrates on a fast lunch service for business guests, who are supplied with fresh daily meals during their break time.
5. Increase turnover per guest
Experience shows that "active selling" increases the turnover enormously. This approach not only raises your employee satisfaction but also boosts the enthusiasm of your guests.
Through special themed events you show your passion and know-how for a specific area (gin-tasting, wine tasting, beer pairing). Together with a suitable menu you offer a magnificent event. You could also feature a supplier as an expert to your events.
Example Little London in Munich: "As a prime steakhouse we are constantly looking for novelties and passionate farmers from all over the world. The best breeders supply us exclusively with top products. We deliberately focus on quality instead of quantity, avoid factory farming and, depending on availability, also source from regional markets. We regularly organise meat tastings for connoisseurs. For these tastings, we select premium cuts from different countries and different degrees of maturity to be tasted in varied ways. Recently we have also started to offer all cuts for home grilling”.
Little London in Munich
Fewer items on the menu and a focus on profitable actions have the potential of saving your business. Now is the best time to introduce an altered menu, try new events and let your business shine with authentic marketing!
Ann-Katrin Gallinat interviews restaurateurs from all over Germany. She collects current topics and presents interesting ideas, approaches and strategies of her interview partners.