Tips for QSRs/Fast Casuals to Start the Year Off Right

While 2020 cleared much of the underbrush, it is critical, now more than ever, to remain competitive and make a plan for success in the New Year. The pandemic was tough for many, but the restaurant industry was undoubtedly hit hard. If you are reading this and survived 2020, great job! Here are some tips for QSRs / fast-casual concepts to kick start a successful 2021.

Offer Carry Out and Delivery: If you haven’t already, implementing an efficient carryout and/or delivery model will be game-changing in 2021; it will separate those who will not only survive but thrive. Those who excel in operationalizing the carryout/delivery model will reap many benefits. For information on implementing delivery for the first time, please reference New to Food Delivery? 8 Things You Need to Know. 

Sanitary Practices: In 2021, it will be critical to practice and promote sanitation and market these practices to customers. In light of COVID-19, many are fearful of eating out, and you will want to display signs and explain sanitation measures on your website to ease anxieties. For more information on sanitary practices, please visit the CDC’s website.

Cash is King: While we are navigating the new normal, one thing is certain: much is still uncertain. Make sure to be intentional with your emergency funds in the bank. When determining this figure, you will want to consider debt, future growth plans, and the overall impact of COVID-19 on your business (at least you have 2020 as a benchmark).  

2020 Tax Planning: Be sure to complete your 2020 tax planning and ensure you have enough cash to cover (in addition to your emergency cash). Depending on the concept, the tax debt may be at an unprecedented high.

Stock Up on Supplies and Make the Most of Perishable Inventory: Be sure you have plenty of cleaning and essential supplies on hand in case of shortages. Furthermore, make the most of your inventory (i.e., sell ingredients, DIY packs, etc.) to limit waste. Not only will this reduce waste, customers appreciate creativity and look forward to new ideas.

Budget: Create an aggressive top and bottom line budget at the onset of the year and align key metrics to the budget for team members at all levels (i.e., tie bonus and rewards to the goals outlined in the budget to bring the entire team into the picture).  

Marketing Campaign: Focus heavily on formulating an annual marketing campaign. This should include a robust and functional website that displays both your menu options as well as the COVID-19 safeguards in place. Another idea to both manage inventory and draw in customers is to have a daily specials email. This will keep customers engaged and excited to try your food. Where there is less flexibility for creativity, focus on the customer experience from both a sanitary and efficiency standpoint. 

 Stay Informed: The new stimulus package and state and local aid are here to help — but only if you stay informed, know what’s available and remain on top of due dates. Please visit the COVID-19 resource hub or reach out to HORNE Franchise for more information.