The scourge of coronavirus is spreading across the globe. If the current situation continues, the industry outlook for the restaurant business is likely to be grim. According to reports, without a bailout, most restaurants are bound to shut down completely. In an effort to find new income streams, restaurateurs have rediscovered the potential of gift cards and merchandise, which are proving to be an excellent way to retain customers even during the coronavirus crisis.
Reports suggest that business has dropped by as much as 50 percent since the first case of the virus was confirmed in late January. Now, a dozen restaurants are coming together to support each other and form a stronger community during the pandemic. As a result, multiple restaurants are trading gift cards to keep customers coming back.
Take, for example, the Mexican Bar and restaurant, Dos Rios Cantina.
“We reached out to a bunch of our friends, traded a bunch of gift cards and as a thank you, when someone purchases something for takeout, we tuck in a little gift card from the restaurant or another shop downtown, says Jordan Rindgen, co-owner of Dos Rios and The Colonial.
In this blog post, we will talk about how gift cards really help to bring back your customers.
Do Gift Cards Do Your Restaurant Any Good?
Gift cards can range anywhere between $5 to $25 in value. Based on the value of their orders, you can have gift cards made for your customers as a gesture of appreciation and solidarity. The good part here is that even if your customers receive a gift card for a store or business that is temporarily shut during the coronavirus pandemic, it will still be valid after the situation is normalized.
Giving Back To Customers
Restaurateurs that have been able to function entirely online are grateful for a stable income. The idea behind giving out gift cards is to give back to customers and society at large. It is super important for businesses to support their customers and also other small businesses in their area. Gift cards often deliver a simple message that you care for your community.
“It’s really scary, it’s a very strange time, and there’s a lot of uncertainty with this whole pandemic, and we don’t know when we’re going to be able to open again, and just because someone says we can open at the end of the month, that’s not necessarily the case,” said Desiree Depersiis, owner of Tesorina Boutique.
Other restaurants in the US and other countries believe gift cards to be more like interest-free loans since these gift cards actually help boost sales involving some sort of initial investment. Steve McHugh, owner of a restaurant chain in San Antonio, TX, says that he was surprised by the customer response when they introduced gift cards with their takeaway orders.
“It’s not that purchasing gift cards is going to save a restaurant outright from permanent closure, says Ralph Brennan, owner of Brennan’s in New Orleans, LA. However, combined with other support, it can offer a certain amount of liquidity, mostly for small neighborhood restaurants. Having shepherded his restaurants through Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Brennan is familiar with having to rebuild operations, but he sees the uncertainty of the current climate as daunting, even with community support.
All in all, the widespread economic impact on both businesses and customers caused by coronavirus will take a while to mitigate. What we can do right now is pick up on various strategies like gift cards and thank you notes to bring back customers. Additionally, you can try bringing in more income through multiple cookbooks and newsletters on your website.