How to increase your restaurant sales and reach new customers in a post-pandemic industry

The last 18 months have been extremely tough for the restaurant industry. Despite these challenges, Restaurants have demonstrated their incredible resilience. Some, like Madame Vo, found ways to generate revenue by incorporating takeout and delivery into their restaurant model. In contrast, others, like Pig & Khao, found other avenues to reach customers, such as meal kits. 

While we don’t know what the future holds, there is one thing we know for sure: independent restaurant operators are incredibly resilient and innovative. 

As you embark on a post-pandemic environment, you must build a hybrid restaurant model to reach customers on-premise and off-premise. Here are 6 strategies to help you increase your restaurant sales this summer and thrive in the post-COVID-19 industry.

Build a social media presence


There are 4 billion social media users globally, which means there are 4 billion people just waiting to get excited about your Restaurant’s dishes. Developing a social media strategy can help you reach new customers, grow your on-premise and off-premise business, and build a loyal following. Wondering how to get started? Here are four tips:

Choose the right social media platform

While there are 4 billion active social media users worldwide, not everyone uses the same platform. You must understand who your target audience is and the social media platforms they utilize.

Promote discounts and loyalty programs on your social media channels

Rewards and discounts incentivize existing and new customers to visit your restaurant or order takeout and delivery from your Restaurant. Promoting your deals on social media is a great way to re-engage your followers and drive sales directly to your Restaurant.

Share engaging and authentic social media content

Today, more and more social media users crave genuine social media content that gives a glimpse into the brand identity of their favorite restaurants. Not sure where to start? Check out our latest post featuring social media post ideas to inspire your strategy.

Offer your customers a way to order takeout and delivery directly from your social media profile

You’ve built a social media following–but how do you precisely capture sales? By offering customers the opportunity to order takeout and delivery directly from you.

Offer customers the opportunity to order online–directly from you

A whopping 92% of restaurant diners who are fully vaccinated say they’ll stick to ordering online with similar if not increased frequency as they did during the pandemic. Meanwhile, a mere 8% say they’ll return to their pre-pandemic dine-in habits.

For owners and operators eying ways to boost restaurant sales, these stats suggest digital ordering capabilities will be critical for restaurants- even after vaccines are readily available and adopted.

And offering a branded online ordering experience is a great way to capture online orders while also building a direct relationship with your customers. 

That's why we made Grubhub Direct, a commission-free platform designed to help you reach loyal diners and build your online brand

Grubhub Direct online ordering example

With Grubhub Direct, you can drive customers to your very own online ordering website, customized just for your Restaurant, and build stronger customer relationships using detailed customer data and loyalty tools. In addition, restaurants receive access to a full suite of technology solutions, at no extra cost, including:

  • Website design tools
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Order management technology
  • Management portal
  • Loyalty and promotions tools

Ready to get started with commission-free online orders? Sign up with Grubhub Direct today!

Open a Virtual Restaurant

Euromonitor International’s market research firm estimates the virtual restaurant market will hit a massive $1 trillion by 2030. So, what is a virtual restaurant, and why have they become so popular?

  • Virtual restaurants provide a way for brick-and-mortar restaurants to bring in new orders, customers, and delivery sales without opening a new physical location quickly. Typically, virtual restaurants can launch in about ¼ the time of a physical restaurant concept- at a fraction of the cost.
  • By launching a brand new delivery-only restaurant concept from your existing kitchen with a special menu and cuisine type, you can reach an entirely new set of customers, including customers who typically don’t order from your business. 
  • You can grow your business and increase sales without adding overhead costs by using the same staff, ingredients, and kitchen to operate your virtual restaurant concept, sot here’s little to no new costs. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Ric Gruber, the owner of Billy Brick’s Wood Fired Pizza, found a way to successfully leverage virtual restaurants during COVID-19 and build a new revenue stream into his model. 

Check out our latest webinar Exploring Growth Now: Hear from an Owner Who Made it Happen, to learn how to bring in additional revenue through multiple virtual restaurant concepts.

Build community with event marketing

The restaurant industry is built on hospitality, and that means being friendly and building a rapport not only with your existing customers but with strangers who could become part of your restaurant family in the future. As you reopen and restrictions lessen, event marketing is a great way to bring people into your Restaurant and build awareness for your brand.

 

In New York, Erika Emeruwa, co-owner of The Council Café, turned her Restaurant into a makeshift community market, selling everything from artwork and dry goods to freshly baked bread from Naria Bread. Erika also hosted outdoor pop-up dinners, collaborating with other local businesses to create dining experiences inspired by Nigerian street food. It’s a smart move that’s as innovative as it is true to Erika’s brand passion for hospitality.

 

As more and more people venture out and feel comfortable dining in person, consider hosting events. Below are just a few examples to inspire your event strategy: 

  • Host a pop-up shop featuring local artisans such as jewelers, crafters, and handmade clothing
  • Work with a local charity and gather physical donations (canned goods, clothing) in exchange for food or drink tickets
  • Hold a friendly chef vs. chef competition with small tasting portions for the audience to enjoy — and they get to vote, of course, with plenty of social media tagging for good measure.

Reach customers through meal kits

The meal kit service market could reach nearly $20 billion by 2027 according to a new report from Grand View Research,Inc. Meal kits tap into the home chef community, empowering the average person interested in the culinary arts to create restaurant-level goods without the excess prep and planning. Many innovative restauranteurs are tapping into this new opportunity. 


During the pandemic, Chef Leah Cohen of New York’s Pig & Khao used meal kits as a way to generate revenue and reach a broader audience beyond her neighborhood — something she plans on continuing to do even as things return to normal.

Adapt your kitchen layout to successfully fulfill on-premise and off-premise orders

According to the National Restaurant Association, 53% of adults say purchasing takeout and delivery food is “essential to the way they live,” and 69% are more likely to buy takeout or delivery food now than they were before the pandemic. 

And that trend is not going away. Dataessential’s Group Manager Mark Brandau told Restaurant Hospitality, “There may have been some ebbs and flows over the summer with outdoor dining, but delivery is a steady option because we always end up back home.”

To fulfill both on-premise and off-premise orders, many restaurants are adapting and rebuilding their kitchen layouts, just like Pig and Khao. To continue to fulfill orders placed online and in person, Leah Cohen adapted Pig and Khao’s open kitchen into a closed kitchen model with additional storage and prep space for packing orders.  

“COVID-19 has changed how we think about getting food to people,” Chef Cohen told Grubhub for Restaurants. “Whether through takeout and delivery, offering meal kits, or in-person dining — we want to make Pig & Khao accessible to more customers.”

Preparing for what's next– with Grubhub for Restaurants at your side

It’s essential to continue to invest in both your on-premise and off-premise strategy as we embark on the next stage of the pandemic: Recovery. Whatever your plan is for the future, Grubhub is here to help you adapt, increase your restaurant sales, and achieve your business goals. 

Ready to reach new customers and grow your restaurant business? Get started with Grubhub today and boost your revenue with takeout and delivery sales.