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Sunday, March 15th marked the day that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ordered the shutdown of all dine-in patronage of restaurants and bars. Ohio was the first state to take such a measure, causing businesses who previously didn’t offer carry out or delivery options to act fast in finding a way to serve customers. Following suit, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington have also shuttered restaurant and bar dine-in operations.
Many small businesses throughout the US were hit hard this week as a result, halving the size of their staff due to the lack of income related to the shutdown. Restaurants operate on thin margins, which means a that most groups aren’t financially equipped to wait out this storm.
OpenTable, an online reservation service, reports that diners have “decline by 30%” nationwide last week according to March 12 data.
For some restaurants, this lockdown period represents a large ratio shift towards delivery and carry out, albeit one that their technology infrastructure has them prepared for, to some extent. Dave Mayerik, VP of Operations at Gold Star Chili had a lot to say on that matter.
“We were just starting to roll out on-line ordering at Gold Star when the Coronavirus crisis hit. We have 33% of our stores operating with that additional point of sale (Tom & Chee is at 100%). As challenges go, certainly the speed in which we complete the on-line ordering roll out is one opportunity. Overall, more than 62% of our business in 2019 was off premise, this is a strength of ours that we can and will play to this.”
For others, management staff is quickly getting up-to-speed and assessing stop-gap solutions for a challenge they’ll face for an unknown period of time. Many hospitality groups are rolling out previously unused modules of their point of sale systems, while others using legacy system may not have that option. Now more than ever, restaurant industry businesses around the world need the support and expertise of the technology community. Below are some key concepts and areas to focus:
- Easy-to-deploy, standalone solutions – Now may not be the time to sell-in sophisticated, all-encompassing solutions. Instead, identify solutions that can be rolled out today at an affordable cost. As an example, ChowNow is an online ordering platform for restaurants that sits next to the main system and charges a flat monthly fee versus a large percentage per order.
- Around-the-clock Innovative Service – Helping restaurateurs and restaurants with their daily operational challenges is a key goal for UEAT, an innovative online ordering service for as little as $10/day for the cost of the interactive order terminal placed on-site. In these trying times, UEAT is launching a 24-hour express integration option for online ordering at no additional cost, so in less than a day, users can go live with their own branded online ordering platform and start taking and prepping orders. Leading off of that, UEAT is granting a free month of online ordering capabilities to boost revenue, while also cutting back 50% on implementation fees.
In this time of uncertainty, there is much that the technology community can do to band together behind those industries that have been terribly impacted by this Global Pandemic. BlueStar works cohesively with companies such as Lightspeed, Appetize, Toast, Soop, OrderCounter, and so many more to help cultivate industry-specific solutions, providing relief and resolve for many, alike.