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Tips for Adapting Your Food Business

COVID-19 has forced us to reevaluate and make changes. Adapting a business to accommodate evolving regulations and expectations can be daunting, but surprisingly, the changes we’re forced to make can turn out to be the best things for our businesses

Tips for Adapting Your Business

As author and consultant, Eve Turow-Paul mentioned in our Industry Talks Series, “those in hospitality have an extra responsibility. It’s not just to feed people, but it’s to inspire people and lift people up during a time of really intense anxiety and sadness.”

In order to thrive in the wake of changing times, it’s essential to be agile and open. We’ve compiled this list of tips and best practices to help you make the most of uncertain times and turn lemons into lemonade.

Companies are pivoting and coming up with creative ways to help where they can:

  • Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, a Valrhona Cercle V restaurant, is offering an assemble-your-own hot pot comfort meal – a five-course dining experience to enjoy at home.
  • Altamira Food, a distributor of restaurant supplies in Denver, quickly adjusted its business model with a limited staff to begin offering grocery delivery to consumers.
  • Foodservice companies and grocery stores are offering curbside pickup and delivery.
  • Publix Supermarkets are offering rent relief to the businesses that rent space in the same shopping centers as their locations.
  • Starbucks has moved to drive-thru and delivery only. The company is also offering full support with comprehensive care to its partners (employees) impacted by COVID-19, including catastrophe pay mental health and sick pay benefits, childcare support, and more.
  • At the beginning of the lockdown, GrubHub kicked into high gear and added four times the number of restaurants to its database than the delivery app normally would have in the same period of time.
  • A local brewery in Orange County, California created a line of t-shirts to generate funds for the Orange County Brewers Fund.
  • Farmhouse in Newport Beach, California started offering a curbside market with kids’ take-and-make pizza kits, produce boxes, family meals, and cocktails to-go.

Ideas and best practices for your business:

Sanitation

  • People are looking for assurance that you’re taking the proper precautions to prepare their food. Communicate what you’re doing in terms of sanitation procedures. Do a refresher course with your staff and post signage.
  • Check-in with your employees to make sure they feel safe and have an opportunity to voice their concerns.
  • Be careful not to wash produce with soap. Most soap is not food grade and can make people sick. Use water and vinegar.
  • For your employees who take on cleaning tasks, provide them with safe non-toxic cleaning products to avoid respiratory irritation or reactions for those who are chemically sensitive

Menu offerings

  • Offer people comfort foods, like meatloaf, roast chicken, mashed potatoes, casseroles, freshly baked bread, apple pie, etc.
  • Sell par-baked breads and rolls. This will give people the experience of freshly baked bread at home and you won’t have to worry about delivering items at the proper temperature.
  • People are stocking up. Capitalize on this by offering promos like buy three, get one free.
  • People are looking for healthy options and foods that boost their immunity naturally. Add healthy foods to your menus and consider including details about how the nutrients in your food support the immune system.

Engagement

  • Do Instagram or Facebook live demos to go along with your meal kits so people can cook with you.
  • Launch a photo contest to encourage people to share photos of your finished meal kits. Make the prize a gift card to ensure customer loyalty.
  • Include recipe cards with your meal kits. Even though you’re giving the recipe away, customers will appreciate being able to recreate your recipes at home, and they will remember your business. 
  • Increase check sizes by offering healthy sides or desserts.
  • Help people stay close and connected. Offer treats and gift items that can be delivered to friends and family.
  • People are still celebrating events, even if they’re choosing to stay home. Offer celebration boxes for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. (e.g. cakes with candles, champagne, or a cocktail kit).
  • Many people are disappointed that they’ve had to cancel trips they’ve been planning for a long time. Offer them a travel experience through your food, like a meal kit inspired by the flavors of Morocco, or a picnic lunch with a bottle of wine. Extra touches are key for your bottom line!
  • Put deals on Groupon to get the word out.
  • If you can, offer staff meals that your employees can take home to their families.
  • If you’re not sure what people want to eat, crowd-source it on social media. What meals would you like us to make for summer?
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