Under the thrall of COVID-19, each of us is struggling to come to terms with a world that seems unrecognisable. For businesses owners in the hospitality industry, the struggle has been exacerbated by lockdown measures put in place to protect us. We’ve conserved our health, but at what cost to our staff and our businesses?
Those cafe, pub and restaurant owners who’ve survived the initial phases of lockdown by delivering, will attest to the fact that this has been nothing more than mere survival. Hospitality businesses are labours of love that, even at the best of times, tend to sustain themselves on making ends-meet and then turning an okay profit.
Now, as economies find their footing with phased reopening of businesses the world over, restaurant and pub owners face the challenge of satisfying their first walk-in customers and profiting in an atmosphere that’s anything but warm, welcoming and vibrant.
Moreover, businesses are concerned about fielding negative online reviews when they’re both more likely to occur, and more damaging. Thankfully, there’s a light at the end of that tunnel…
Phased reopening and the impact on your business
Business owners, like yourself, are wondering on ways to thrive again, as nations like Australia and the US begin allowing the trepidatious return of walk-in restaurant customers.
Sector guidelines from authorities like Australia’s R&CA, and the CDC in the US, stipulate stringent preventative measures to be taken in food & beverage establishments keen to reopen doors under the final phases of lockdown, and things are looking tough.
F&B service is all about customer satisfaction but, to give you an idea, let’s imagine you’re a walk-in customer in Australia:
- You may be asked to wait in your car for your table to clear
- You’ll see distancing guideline signs outside and inside
- You may notice drastically reduced seating and, in some cases, partitioning between tables
- On entering, you’ll have your temperature checked, and will be instructed on distancing and hygiene guidelines
- There will be limited staff
- The restaurant, even if ‘full’, won’t be full at all, and it may be even emptier, if many people in your area are too worried about risk to eat out
- You’ll need the CovidSafe app on your phone, and you’ll need to sign in on entry
- There will be no condiments on your table, you’ll get a disposable menu and you may have plastic knives, forks and plates
- There will be hand-sanitizer everywhere; everyone will be wearing face-masks
- On the bright side, your table should be quite clean!
- Smoking areas might be off-limits
- Wherever you look, something will remind you that the world is not as it was, you may start to feel uncomfortable, with so many reminders of risk
- To top it off, you can’t visit the restaurant bar or hit the pub for a nightcap afterward
It’s not pretty, and many restaurant owners have spoken out, declaring that reopening is not even viable under these measures: “not only must we turn a profit with reduced covers, but staff service is affected and the atmosphere is dismal!” How will customers respond? Your worst fear is that they respond will a bad online review, deterring potential customers and cutting profits even more.
We all hope that your business will see only customers who’re aware and considerate of the regulations placed on you, who’ll applaud your dedication and your friendly, though limited staff.
Yet, there’s always that one customer who’ll find fault with the measures you’ve had to put in place, or won’t appreciate your service in the pall of this less than ideal atmosphere. Unfortunately, it’s that one customer who’s likely to jump on the smartphone and do damage with a bad online review.
Boost business during the drought by removing bad online reviews
Online reviews can make or break a cafe, restaurant or pub at the best of times; it only takes one or two unfair online reviews to steer potential customers away, regardless of how many stellar reviews you’ve had in the past. Under the present circumstances, a bad review can be even more damaging.
Not only are restaurants under new regulations more likely to see bad reviews, consumers are also far more likely to look spots up online before they leave home. It’s more essential than ever that you uphold your reputation with a 5-star online review status.
You can tackle this problem by eliminating fake or unfair reviews from your Google and other review platforms. Whether for one review or continued support, whether those reviews where pre-COVID-19 or occurred as a result of new regulations, they can be permanently and legitimately deleted.
Another way to tackle this problem is to contact customers directly as soon as they leave a review to try to rectofy any of the issues they’ve had – although this isn’t always possible due to the anonymity of their online profiles and the possibility that it could very well be a fake.
Make your business a light in the darkness
While new hospitality guidelines may seem daunting, it’s important to remember that businesses like yours offer a light in the darkness when people need it the most. We’ve been pacing the rooms in their homes for months and most are starved just to sit with others, enjoy a meal we didn’t have to cook.
Most customers you see will be grateful for the haven of good-times you’re providing, sympathetic of the limitations your business is having to endure and, most importantly, itching to order off your disposable menu.
We’d like to thank you for the light you’re shining, in the wake of COVID-19 and we, at Removify, are here to help ensure that, even in this strange new world, you once again learn to thrive.