The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has unequivocally taken over our lives. 

By irreversibly shifting our economy and lifestyles, the pandemic has left industries of all sorts at a loss – in particular, the foodservice industry.  

One of the biggest challenges facing the foodservice industry, whether it be in a restaurant, at a c-store, or in the grocery aisle, is how to make customers feel safe again. 

It’s clear to see how the post-pandemic has altered the restaurant sector now that the pandemic has been over a year. However, in many situations, the epidemic has provided eateries with an opportunity to innovate and come up with new and inventive methods to serve clients.

In a restaurant, how do we convey cleanliness and safety to a cautious clientele? In the grocery store, how will prepared food departments re-establish or re-invent self-service stations? And in c-stores, how can operators calm the shopper, reluctant to return to traditional self-service stations? 

Though it may take some time, industry experts say people will once again become increasingly comfortable returning to pre-pandemic dining situations, so long as safety, cleanliness, and innovation are at the forefront.  

Here are just a few ways that restaurants can begin to prepare for life, post-pandemic.  

1. Make cleanliness and sanitation a focus in your marketing strategy.

In terms of cleanliness, customer expectations have never been higher.  

It may seem obvious, but by broadcasting the precautions your restaurant is taking, customers will have peace of mind that their safety is being taken seriously. This will be an encouraging factor for them when it comes time to return to their pre-pandemic dining situations.  

When choosing to return to restaurants once again, consumers will be expecting visible evidence of cleanliness in order to ensure they are once again comfortable eating in a public space.  

By providing visual markers such as cleaning timetables, sanitization stations, or even an act as simple as watching staff members wiping down surfaces and disinfecting door handles, consumers will feel as though the restaurant is complying with protocols and are doing all that they can to ensure a safe, dining experience for all.  

Communicating the prevention steps your restaurant is taking is of great importance. Signs should be posted in highly visible locations such as entrances and restrooms, as well as notices on social media accounts, business websites, and emails.  

2. Providing no-touch solutions. 

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that technology could be our best friend. 

When it comes time for restaurants to open once again, providing no-touch solutions will be essential for both employees and customers. Implementing “hands-free” solutions can range anywhere from hands-free bathroom equipment to automatic door openers, to digital menus, online ordering and contactless payment options.  

A great idea when it comes to no-touch solutions for your restaurant would be investing in a simple app (or even no app, just a tap) that can be used both as a menu and for ordering. By digitizing your menu, customers can look at it before sitting down, workers don’t have to sanitize them after every use, and they can be updated at little expense – a win-win for all.  

Another great no-touch solution that became popular during the pandemic is contactless payment and paperless receipts. By offering contactless payment as an option, no money has to be dealt with – alleviating the risk of spreading germs and diseases, while also allowing orders to move along rapidly. Also, by enabling paperless, digital smart receipts, customers will automatically receive an itemised tax receipt inside their banking app, without being exposed to the physical receipts. By doing so, you can keep a safe distance from customers, while simultaneously speeding up your check-out process – Everybody wins! 

3. Meeting Consumers’ needs is getting more important than ever.

As a result of the global pandemic, 85% of consumers said that they had changed their food habits to a different extent, according to the survey conducted by the International Food Information Council.  

Obviously, with the strike of COVID-19, people are now more concerned about their personal health and well-being. They have been eating, shopping, and thinking about food differently, putting more attention on food and drinks made with immunity boosters like Kombucha, Turmeric & Ginger, fruit and veggie smoothies, and switching to superfoods, fresh vegetables, plant-based proteins, whole grains, organic products, leafy greens and berries, and so many other options that are considered as healthier and more wholesome alternatives to their original diets. 

Considering this drastic change in consumer behaviors, restaurants should start thinking about providing new options on the menu to meet their ever-increasing demand for food varieties and health benefits. Fresh ideas on how to mix and match those super ingredients can even bring more customers to your table! 

The desire among consumers to get back out to restaurants is strong, and although the future of how restaurants will operate post-pandemic is still undetermined, we’re confident that it’s going to be an exciting, innovative time for the industry and something to look forward to.  

Hospitality people, we are here to help you. 

It has been undoubtedly one of the toughest years for the great people in our industry. But here we can see a brighter future ahead for all of us – one that is paired with great technology, better customer experiences, and a more profitable hospitality industry.  

We will work with you to grow your business. 

H&L POS has been at the forefront of technology in the hospitality and food and beverage industry for over 30 years. We provide Point of Sale with extensive Back of House, and a fully integrated suite of hospitality solutions. 

As hospitality people at heart, H&L understands the critical requirements for each food and beverage operation. We have staff in every state of Australia providing direction and advice as you grow and as technology changes. 

 As always, remember that we are here to assist your business in any way possible. Call us at 1800 778 340, or email sales@hlpos.com to discuss your venue’s needs.