Many U.S. restaurants and bars haven’t served a customer inside their establishments for more than a month now.
The invasion of the novel coronavirus downgraded many of these retailers to carryout-only status before spring 2020 arrived. Serving customers now means handing off food and drinks at the curb.
This new — and hopefully temporary change — shouldn’t nix your branding efforts. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever to market your business and engage customers for future sales. Boost your good reputation by offering convenience with a little fun to break the tension.
Here are a few ways to promote your brand and keep customers coming back:
Creative ideas for carryout-only businesses amid COVID-19
Slip ’em a can cooler or Koozie®. Surprise your customers by giving them a low-cost can cooler with each order. Place your logo on each koozie with a message such as “Make plans to WASH HANDS” or “Storms teach us to shine.” Premium Foam Can Coolers are available in more than 50 colors and cost about 50 cents each for an order of 300.
Keep them safe at home. Offer free delivery or partner with a third-party such as GrubHub, DoorDash or Uber Eats to provide the service if available in your area. This is crucial for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who need to shelter in place. Instagram recently began offering new profile buttons and story stickers for business accounts in the U.S. The “order food” profile button and stickers link to delivery apps and provide an option to buy gift cards.
Customize your food/drink containers. Use personalized disposable cups, containers and napkins for your carryout business. Placing your business logo on these items gives your company a professional look without spending a fortune. You’re going to buy these disposable items anyway, right? Why not use customized products that will advertise your business at the same time?
Flaunt your app. Use your website and social media channels to advertise your company’s app. Offer a percentage off each order placed via your app. Don’t have one? It’s time to get one. People are more likely to choose your business over another if your app is just one tap away.
Offer homeschool meal deals. Parents will love the convenience of ready-to-go meals for kids while they’re busy filling at-home roles of teachers and remote employees. Be sure to offer healthy food options. Include with each order a few pages for kids to color and return for discounts on future lunches.
Create lunch specials with quirky names. It may be easier for your staff to offer a few daily specials instead of the full menu. So condense your offerings and give those special meals crazy names to spark interest such as “Lettuce Do Lunch” for a cobb salad and breadstick combo.
Give discounts for ordering during off-hours. Lots of diners and small bars are getting slammed during peak meal times. Reduce the chaos by giving customers a discount for ordering during slower hours.
Send a message from the heart. Show you care by displaying a banner or banner stand with a heartfelt message in your drive-through or wherever customers are served. Let them know you appreciate their business during this trying time and look forward to welcoming them back inside in the near future.
Provide make-at-home options. Offer family-style menu options that can be picked up anytime and baked at home when needed. Package cookie decorating kits with frosting and sprinkles to keep little ones busy!
Host online contests and giveaways. Use this opportunity to grow your social media by requesting “likes” and “shares” to enter trivia and other contests. Award each winner with food items, drink deals or customized promotional products with your logo for ongoing branding opportunities!
Menus are a must!
I’d like to offer one other piece of advice from a personal point of view: Be sure your food and drink menus are easy to access and read on your website or social media channels. I’ve seen pictures of menus posted on Facebook that are out of focus, shown sideways and very frustrating to read. Also, be sure the menu and prices you advertise are up to date.