Why Top Restaurant Operators Now See Guests and Employees in a Completely New Way

This COVID-19 crisis constantly throws new things at you that you’ve never even thought about.

The most successful operators – the ones who will navigate through this and dominate their segment – listen to employees and guests every day to understand the smart next move. 

Treat All Your Guests Like They Are New

Here in Texas, we’re 10 days into 25% dining room capacity. Some owners have welcomed regulars back; others report seeing “guests I never even noticed before and have no idea where they came from.”

Clearly, diners who come back have a profile. Maybe they just feel less scared of sickness than others, or they missed social activity so much that being in a 75% empty dining room is too enticing to pass up.

Learn about these people and about those who are still staying home, not yet ready to come back.

This will teach you how to craft messaging and respond to guest needs on your long path back to full volume.

The One Change You Should Make Permanent

Don’t ever let up on your restaurant’s to-go and delivery efforts.

One of the unexpected outcomes of Texas re-opening dining rooms? To-go and delivery have increased.

The gesture of opening the dining rooms has served as an “all clear” message for people who had previously hesitated even to eat restaurant food during the COVID-19 crisis.

New to-go and delivery offerings should now be permanent features of your restaurants.

Smart operators who use part of their dining room as staging areas will figure out how to drive revenue that co-exists with (eventually) full dining rooms.

Add “Protector of Employees” to Your Resume

As people come back to work, the past 8 weeks – and what their families and friends continue to experience every day – occupy the first, second, and third things on their minds.

All of a sudden they don’t see you just as their employer, booster, and team leader.

You have become their protector.

They go online every day and see that essential workers are most of the hospitalization cases.

That scares them.

Listen to them one on one, in groups at pre-shift, and let them tell you what they are wondering about.

Do the opposite of what Hillstone – of up-to-now-respected Houston’s, R&D Kitchen, Bandera, and Honor Bar fame – just did.

They told their employees they could not wear masks in the dining room.

It’s like they are from an alternate universe where Danny Meyer gave us the finger and kept Shake Shack’s PPP money.

So one of their employees went to State District Court and walked out with a ruling in order to wear one.

You can either build your culture and bond with your workers over shared experience during this pandemic, or destroy connections with your workforce for years.

Over to you. These two groups – guests and employees – have new attitudes, feelings, and experiences of being in your restaurants. Listen and they will tell you what your business must look like now.

If you want to talk about how the COVID-19 virus is impacting your business, please schedule a free call with me and I will help you.

Freedom and flexibility guide for restaurateurs.

What’s the point of owning a successful restaurant business if you don’t have freedom?

Download Matthew Mabel's Freedom and Flexibility Guide for Restaurateurs to learn how to...

  • Step away for extended periods of time
  • Contribute to your community in a unique way
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Travel for weeks at a time
  • Split your residence at a vacation home for several months a year