It can be incredibly challenging to know how much stock to buy from week to week, with regulations changing constantly. But especially right now, most restaurants can’t afford to throw out half of their shipments.
This leaves restaurant owners with a few questions: How can restaurants better anticipate traffic? How can restaurants monetize excess inventory? This resource will explore strategies for doing both.
Drive more customers.
While you likely won’t see the same traffic you did before the pandemic, you can make up some of the difference by increasing your marketing efforts. It costs nothing to boost your social posting and marketing outreach to stay top-of-mind for customers.
Most importantly, make sure potential customers know you’re open and can easily understand all the ways to patron your restaurant. You could be missing out on tons of customers just because they assume you aren’t open right now.
Keep an eye on local data and laws.
As much as possible, try to look at the trends in your community. Understand the local number of COVID-19 cases, how frequently people are frequenting establishments, and how consumers choose to dine.
Many communities have rolled new regulations out on the fly with little notice, try to anticipate upcoming laws. Attend community meetings on Facebook Live, watch for municipal meeting minutes, and regularly check for local news.
Develop meal kits.
As a result of the pandemic, more families are cooking at home on a budget during COVID-19. Unfortunately for parents, COVID-19 has quadrupled their responsibilities, piling schooling, cleaning, and cooking on top of their regular duties.
Meal kits can be an excellent way not just to use your excess inventory, but also to pivot in a direction that benefits consumers even more at a price point they can afford right now.
Donate your excess inventory.
If you won’t be able to sell your inventory before it expires, donate it to an organization that will. After unemployment skyrocketed to historic rates, state governments haven’t been able to keep up with all the requests, and many families are struggling to make ends meet.
Restaurant operators can support their community by partnering with community organizations that can distribute your excess inventory to groups or families in need. Increased health regulations may change the way some organizations operate but don’t be discouraged. Ask around your network or look for local Facebook groups to find organizations that are still distributing.
Prepare for positive pandemic pivots.
COVID-19 has thrown everything in the air. It’s hard to make weekend plans, let alone know how much stock to order for your restaurant.
Explore how to make your revenue more predictable and ways you can get the most out of excess stock:
Post on social media to keep potential diners informed about precautions you’re taking for COVID-19
If location hours are changing from week to week, have a pinned post at the top of your social channels and a banner on your website with updated hours
Actively promote deals
Consider having “flash sales” where customers can purchase unused inventory at a discounted price
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in just about everything, and 2020 shows absolutely no signs of stopping. Fortunately, strategic operators will be able to find opportunities within the chaos to thrive in a post-pandemic world.