Though not the core focus of Food Futures Insights, given these unprecedented times, for those food-to-go outlets open at this time, we wanted to draw together some of the key principles we've seen introduced across broader hospitality and among food-to-go operators.
The list won't cover everything, but hopefully of some use in sharing what others are doing with regard to their front end customer facing proposition.
1. Reassure your customers - communicate your efforts to customers, online and offline. Show how you have upgraded your cleaning regime, and highlight how your team members have been trained to follow this. If you need to make changes to how you operate to do this, explain what you are doing and why to your customers.
2. Ensure your working environment is optimised for your team members. As well as consideration around your customers, think about any changes you may need to make to ensure your employees feel comfortable and safe coming to work. Much of this will be about minimising unnecessary contact between employees and customers, for example some operators are considering measures such as accepting card payment only to stop the risk of virus transfer via cash.
3. Encourage social distancing. If you’ve a seating area, consider reducing capacity to ensure you’re supporting your customers in their efforts to meet social distancing guidelines. Some businesses may even consider converting to takeaway/ delivery only on a temporary basis. Starbucks, for example, has made the call to do this across all its stores in North America. Others in North America have already followed suit.
4. For online orders, detail your collection process at the point of order, to reassure your customers that you are doing all you can to minimise close human contact, and change your collection process if necessary. Social distancing and reducing direct contact need to be the priorities in any such strategy right now. In China, operators such as KFC and Pizza Hut were able to set up a mechanism for contactless deliveries (more detail in the IGD article below). Similar principles are already being adopted by the likes of Deliveroo and Karma in the UK.
5. Offer hand sanitising, move cutlery behind the counter, pause accepting customers' reusable cups and go for single serve condiment portions. Neither Starbucks nor Pret for example are accepting customers' reusable cups at the current time.
6. When consumers are cutting non-essential journeys, your website is more than ever your shop window, so use it to communicate your working practices. More elements of the path to purchase will switch online from offline in the current environment. Ensure your website displays your working practices in the best possible way, and is up to date.
7. Consider how you could support those more at risk. We’ve seen retailers, like Woolworths in Australia, plus several in France and Ireland, create special shopping times for those most at risk of infection, primarily the elderly. Could you help those most in need by doing something similar? Similarly, could you introduce additional services to help those most in need?
What we've been reading:
Here are two good starting points for further reading - the Pret communication https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb/How-Pret-is-responding-to-Coronavirus and the global Starbucks communication https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2020/navigating-through-covid-19/.
Mark McCullock: 13 Corona virus/ COVID-19 marketing tips for hospitality
FSR magazine (US): Why takeout and delivery only model could save your restaurant
QSR Magazine (US): Coronavirus Crisis Communications for Restaurants: A Checklist
COVID-19: impacts on supply and demand, from IGD
UK specific guidance:
UK Government: advice for businesses and employers
NHS: official COVID-19 advice