3 Things to do Now That Your Dining Room’s at 100% Capacity

With Texas allowing 100% capacity, the honeymoon with our guests is on.  

But honeymoons don’t last forever.

And what about this crisis?

It won’t really be over until the case load is low, we understand new post-COVID guest behavior, when the unready or hesitant guest returns – and work our way through all the government bailouts.

All this teaches serious Advanced Placement-level lessons both for us and for operators around the country opening up in the future. 

Revenue Exceeding Pre-COVID Levels

Many of the groups I work with are now experiencing revenue at 110-115% of equivalent 2019 sales.

Whatever the future holds, that seems like a crazy dream after the past year – as if you’re half-awake and wondering if any of it is real.  

To-go, delivery, and curbside revenue continues to exceed pre-COVID levels (at least 10-15 points higher) while dining rooms fill up.

Stimmies don’t hurt, either.

Only the labor shortage holds us back from even higher sales. 

What You Should Do Now

  1. Think like the unready. Heinz has launched the touch-less ketchup dispenser. Coke has a soda fountain operated from a smartphone app. People have changed permanently. When the lost guest hesitantly enters your dining rooms soon – having only eaten in their own at home for a year – what will they notice? Walk through your front door and pretend to be one. What looks good, acceptable, safe, and clean to you? Is something a little sketchy? Change it or clean it before people turn tail and run to your competition. 
  2. Raise menu prices. There will never be a more forgiving guest. You have a lot of ground to make up and have had a year of expenses you didn’t even know existed pre-COVID. Take a bold position now and pass along costs to the guests – the only people who pay for anything in a restaurant. 
  3. Actively boost retention. With the labor supply as limited as it has ever been, put even more emphasis on retention – which leads to less need to recruit. Never stop talking to your people about your culture and why they have made a smart choice to represent your brand. And do the little things, too. If they want to be vaccinated, give them paid time to do that.

Don’t act like the pandemic has already ended.

Instead, experience the pure joy of springtime hope, like, “I hope I really see the end of this in the near future.”

Restaurateurs still have lessons to apply in order to dominate their segments, resume their profit streams, and enroll lost guests.

Over to you. What action can you take to make the honeymoon last and go to the next level with your guests and business?