A Pandemic Tale of Two Businesses

strawberry salad
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I live up the street from a small gourmet pizza shop. Their food is amazing.
Connecting with the owner over a few visits pre-pandemic, I learned that they’re having some revenue issues. They were open 6 days a week from 3pm – 9pm.
We got together and I shared some suggestions on ways to increase revenue: from gift cards to local delivery (there are a lot of seniors within 2 miles of her) to adding salads and including a continuity program.
After shelter-in-place began in South Carolina, I stopped in to get gift cards for my neighbors for a pizza plus delivery with tip.
No gift cards. She didn’t want to spend the money to buy the paper gift certificates, nevermind the electronic.
I asked about delivery. She only offered one day a week when a friend would help. She didn’t want to pay someone, even during peak hours. She also “didn’t want to deal with SBA paperwork” so didn’t attempt to get PPP or EIDL.
A month ago she went from being open 6 days to 5. Two weeks ago she was open 3 days. This past weekend, she didn’t open at all and didn’t communicate anything on her social media profiles — previously she had posted several times/week. I don’t know if she’ll re-open.
Then there’s another restaurant about 5 miles from me, also higher end. I had never been there before March. One day while coming home from the bank, I saw a big sign out front advertising “huge boxes of fresh produce for $20”.
I stopped, got a box and had a chat with the owner. Here’s what he’s done since our shelter-in-place:
  • Worked a deal with his produce company (mostly local food) to have a box truck full of pre-packed produce out front of the restaurant with each box having a mix of fruit and veggies for $20. His servers would collect the money and give to the farmer. His restaurant would buy boxes as needed for a lower price. He promoted this on social media.
  • Worked a deal with local fishermen to buy X amount of their catch. Each day on social media, he shares what fresh fish are available and what fishing boat caught the fish, so you know exactly where the food came from.
  • Shifted up his specials to offer smaller lunch portions for less money and also “family” versions which are $5X the cost of the lunch portion for a tray plus bread and salad for a family of 4-5.
  • In addition to delivery within a certain distance, he also offered contactless car drop-off: You order on the phone or online, tell them your vehicle, pay over phone/online, pull up out front of the restaurant and a server brings your food, well packaged, and puts in your back seat or trunk.
  • Ensured that someone is always monitoring his Facebook Messenger for any questions.
Earlier this week, he put an ad on Facebook — he’s hiring additional staff.
Two restaurants, two mindsets, two very different outcomes.
When we talk about “pivoting” or “tweaking”, it doesn’t mean doing something completely different. It can be as simple as asking yourself “What does my customer want/need most right now and how I can provide it?”
In the above case, one restaurant owner did just that by lowering prices, making pickup contactless and seamless and aligning himself with other food providers.
The other restaurant owner chose to let circumstances dictate the fate of her restaurant, bypassing creative solutions in favor of sitting back and grumbling about the unfairness of it all.
Tomorrow, in our Get It Done Right and Escalate MasterClass, we’ll be talking about creating recurring and leveraged revenue through membership, subscription and continuity programs.
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