As lockdown continues to ease, what can community cafes and pubs do to attract customers back through the doors? A drizzle of creativity mixed with dash of support from government could be the perfect recipe.
Lockdown has been a really difficult period for community businesses, particularly those whose core trading is hospitality. Back in March, scores of community cafes and pubs were forced to close their doors, not knowing when or if they would open again.
Since 4th July, many have been able to reopen but adjusting to the ‘new normal’ has brought a fresh set of challenges. Rebuilding customer confidence in dining–out is a one obstacle but an uncertain economic outlook may mean people are being more considered about how they spend their money. They might be eating out less often and so when they do, where they eat matters more than ever.
With so many eateries competing for customers, community businesses will need to work hard, think more creatively and make the best use of the help available to attract customers back.
Eat Out to Help Out
One opportunity is the Government’s new Eat Out to Help Out initiative. During August, diners at participating venues can enjoy 50% off their bill, up to a maximum of £10 per person. The offer applies between Monday – Wednesday and will run from 3 – 31 August.
Customers do not need a voucher and businesses can simply reclaim the discounted amount online and money will be paid into bank accounts in five working days.
The scheme represents a great opportunity, particularly as it aims to bring more customers in during traditionally quieter periods.
Here’s the Eat Out to Help Out facts:
- It’s open to all restaurants and other establishments serving food for consumption on the premise. Excludes takeaway.
- Diners will receive 50% off their food and drinks bill, up to a maximum of £10 per person. Excludes alcoholic drinks.
- The discount is available Monday – Wednesday, from 3rd – 31st August 2020.
- Customers do not need a voucher. The discount is removed from their bill by the participating business, which can then claim the discount back from the government online. The money will be paid within five working days.
- Businesses need to sign-up and can download promotional materials on the government’s website. The government will also send a window sticker to help publicise that businesses are taking part in the scheme.
If you do decide to sign-up, make sure you do your own marketing locally and on social media so people will choose you above chain restaurants and cafes!
If the Eat Out to Help Out scheme isn’t right for your community businesses, here are a few alternative ideas to attract new customers:
- Make sure you list your community business on the Social Enterprise Directory so it’s easy for socially-minded people to find you!
- Join forces with community business in your area. Create a shop – eat local loyalty scheme, where regular customers build–up discounts or get better rates.
- Run a competition inviting local children to design a ‘dish of the day’. Customers decide the winner, casting their vote by means of purchasing a dish. This would attract friends and family in plus would make a nice story for local and social media publicity.
- Focus on what makes your place to eat unique and celebrate it. Do customers know that your organisation is community-led? Do you only use locally grown produce? Does your business particularly help young people with job and skills opportunities? Whatever it is, shout about it!
Are you taking part in Eat Out to Help Out? Tell us about it and we will promote your organisation on social media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to tell us your social media handles.