How delivery could be key to keeping food businesses open and customers safe

The arrival of Covid-19 around the world is bringing about momentous changes in how every business works.

By Conor McCarthy Flipdish

The challenges for most businesses are greater than any planning or projections could have allowed for.

For all businesses, being able to adapt and change how your business runs may mean the difference between survival and failure, and for none more so than the restaurant sector in the markets we operate in including Ireland, Spain and the UK.

In light of Covid-19, we are receiving lots of inbound queries from our restaurant partners across Europe who are struggling to balance a surge in food delivery orders with reduced staffing numbers.

We are dealing with thousands of restaurants and takeaways around the world daily during this crisis, and are learning firsthand the challenges they are facing and the solutions they are implementing.

During this challenging time, it is understandable that restaurants may need to adjust their opening hours and extend delivery times. Our advice is to make use of all the digital tools at your disposal – website, app, social media, push notifications, text messages – to over-communicate with your customer base and set their expectations accordingly.

We are also being proactive and reaching out to restaurants that we know do not have online ordering or delivery options, but could benefit from them in an extraordinary time like this.

For restauranteurs that have apps or ordering functionality on their website, proactively driving as many orders through these channels will help short-staffed teams to focus on preparing food and delivering it, rather than processing orders in person or over the telephone, and also reduce the level of person-to-person contact which occurs when orders are placed in-store and customers are forced to stand in a queue.

Some of our customers are saying that they’re hiring more delivery drivers to keep up with the demand, and for some, it has been extremely beneficial.

We have customers who were up 50% in deliveries week-on-week since the Covid-19 outbreak began, with most other customers who are offering delivery options up 10-15% in deliveries week-on-week since the beginning of the outbreak.

Understandably customers across the region are worried about hygiene and spreading germs. Social media is a great place to communicate the steps you are taking to protect food against contamination.

Similarly, on the doorstep, we are advising all restaurant owners to offer cashless payment as standard to minimise the risk of spreading the virus further.

Outside of digital measures, I strongly recommend that all staff wear masks to prevent saliva droplets spreading the virus. Masks also aid with the perception of food being prepared in a more sterile environment.

This is not business-as-usual and you can save lives by changing your habits today.

Actions taken in response to Covid-19 within the restaurant industry are likely to have a lasting impact on the sector and change the future direction of the industry.

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What we think of as precautions and temporary actions now, may become the expected norms within the industry.

Across all industries, we need to pull together and offer support to each other where we can. The maxim, ‘We are stronger together than we are alone’ rings especially true in times like these.

Coming together to change, adapt and overcome the challenges we are faced with can not only keep the food industry alive but have a positive, lasting impact on the state of the sector.

Conor McCarthy is the chief executive and co-founder of Flipdish. The Dublin based digital food-ordering solution for independent eateries will be running a series of Webinars in response to the growing uncertainty for the restaurant industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first webinar, “Managing your restaurant through the Coronavirus: A Practical Guide”, will take place on Friday March 20 at 14:30, is free to join, and can be accessed at flipdish.com/webinars.

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