2020 has been a whirlwind, and we’re only 3 months in. We would have never predicted that during the excitement of celebrating our 10th Anniversary, the world and our community would be hit so hard. Over the last week, we’ve seen the spread of Coronavirus pushing the restaurant and mobile food industry to think out of the box as travel restrictions are enforced, gatherings are postponed, many are no longer permitted to go into the office, and others are required to continue going in to keep society running and find a vaccine.
With so much information being thrown at small businesses, we wanted to break through the clutter and share our top 10 suggestions for our community of Creators:
Be Candid. Let your followers and customers know what steps you are taking to be safe and whose guidance you are following. Share stories about your company and employees—let the community know how you’re being affected and how they can help. Not only will this draw support from your local community, but it will help give visibility to where city/state officials need to step in.
Create a method of serving from your takeout window without coming into contact with the customer. Encourage customers to use credit cards and tap payment methods, including Apple Pay. For foodservice, place it on a table instead of handing it to customers directly. Remove all utensil stations, providing your customers with bundled utensils with each order separately.
You don’t necessarily need to use a software platform to do delivery. With the extra staff you have available and without having to pay additional fees, offer delivery (even free delivery!) through your website or phone number.
With many employers requiring employees to work from home and school taking time off or teaching virtually for a minimum of two weeks, it’s more imperative than ever to create meal kits and meals that meet the needs of families. Consider adding more kid-friendly items or kits that can be frozen for the future. For example, El Sur is offering Free Delivery in the Bay Are when you buy a 24 pack of empanadas. Learn more here.
If you haven’t already, consider setting up a gift card platform for your guests to purchase for future uses. Doing so will give you some immediate income and incentivize your customers to come back and visit you in the future. Are you currently using Square? If yes, they have an easy way to set up gift cards in just a few clicks: Learn more here. Once you have your gift card system set up, promote on social channels, and share with us at Off the Grid—we’re happy to help you get the word out!
There are many steps you can take to reduce your operating costs. Ask your credit cards and lenders for interest rate deductions or deferred payments. Call your software providers, including your accounting and delivery platforms, for discounted or free rates. Consider calling your suppliers and landlords for deferred payment, reductions, or payment plans to help offset upfront costs.
Consider adjusting your menu to have items that cost less to make, items that travel well, and items that can be reheated or frozen without losing their flavor.
If you have any companies or individuals that still owe you money, ask for expedited payment. If catering clients start to reach out about canceling, ask if they would consider postponing, allowing you to keep a deposit or payment instead of giving a full refund.
Determine if you owe or will get a refund. If you plan on getting a refund, consider filing early to receive it sooner. Anticipating having to pay? The city of San Francisco will allow qualifying small businesses to defer payment to the tax collector on their next round of quarterly taxes, due April 30, until February 2021. The city will also provide additional tax relief by deferring the collection of permitting fees that businesses like restaurants and bakeries pay for at least three months.
There are many local and state organizations that are rolling out programs to support small businesses right now:
• Facebook is rolling out a grant program in the following weeks to receive free ad credits. Stay up to date here.
• Sign up for the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund
• Join the Supportrestaurants.org Dining Bond Initiative
• Consider Creating a gofundme to support your team, like Bini’s Kitchen did here.
We know this is a difficult time for everyone in our community and we’ll continue to update our blog as we learn more. Have additional tips? Let us know here.