Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

BY waitlistme,

As the United States enters its second year living through the coronavirus pandemic, we’re all beginning to reach our limit. Individuals—including you, your customers, and your employees—are battling monumental levels of stress and burn-out, while businesses are still facing sink-or-swim moments.

An essential element of keeping our heads above water while the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and herd immunity is achieved is finding ways to balance safety and living our lives. As a restaurant owner, you can help folks in your community reclaim parts of their normal, pre-COVID lives while being safety conscious.

Here are some ways to encourage customers to return for happy hour, date night, brunch, and beyond.

Make your safety protocols easy to access

Uncertainty around your safety protocols can influence concerned customers to stay home instead of visiting your restaurant, even if it’s just for take-out. 

Waitlist Me makes it easy to communicate important information to your customers via text message. Once they join your waitlist or make an appointment, you can remind them to mask-up, let them know where they can wait safely, inform them of food pick-up procedures, and more! Our public waitlist feature and add yourself features are also customizable.

Because we understand that your business needs can change, we make it easy to update your messaging. Whether it’s a dish-of-the-day or a new safety notice, you can tweak your text messages and your public waitlist quickly from the Waitlist Me settings.

Note: Remember to make your protocols (and everything else, like your menu and your payment system) easy for everyone to access. Have alternate delivery methods prepared and train your staff on how to use them. This accessibility guide from Toast can help you get started.

Enforce your business’ safety rules consistently

These days, there are few experiences more disheartening than finding a local business with solid COVID-19 safety protocols in place, only to visit in-person and observe that management isn’t enforcing those protocols.

Quality control is essential for small businesses. It’s what transforms your best dishes from one-hit wonders to house favorites. And, during a pandemic, it’s what gives your restaurant a five-star reputation for health and safety, both for your employees and your customers. Communicate your safety measures frequently, and make this communication and enforcement visible and audible to your visitors, too.

Note: Be clear with your management team and your staff about the safety protocols, how you will enforce them with your employees, and what enforcement powers they regarding guests. Spend time on this training. Indignant guests can be intimidating, and your team needs to be able to confidently and calmly diffuse tension while still enforcing the boundaries you’ve set.

Eliminate other sources of stress

Many areas are repeating the pattern of tightening restrictions, watching case levels decline, and reopening, which has guests and employees alike feeling like they can’t control their day-to-day life.

Waitlist Me can help you help them stress just a little bit less. When we first launched, our goal as a waitlist and reservation app was to set customers free from a designated waiting area. Thanks to our text message notifications and publicly visible waitlist, guests can wait where they’re comfortable—and can join your queue from wherever they are via our add yourself web widget.

Many of the features we’ve added over time empower business owners to help their clientele stress even less. Guests can save their place in line by texting your restaurant when they’re running late, and you can reply to them to clarify additional requests. You can also prevent last-minute confusion by providing menus and COVID-related changes on your website, add yourself page, and public waitlist page.