COVID-19 UPDATE: How Restaurants Can Avoid Payments and Sales Problems Post-Covid-19 Shutdowns May 28,2020

From our partners at Soar Payments

The Covid-19 pandemic, along with the subsequent social-distancing and government shutdowns have created unprecedented challenges for the restaurant industry.

While many states and restaurants are slowly reopening, the business impact of the novel coronavirus is going to be felt for some time. Both restaurants, and owners themselves may find the business landscape harder to navigate. Fortunately, there are solutions restaurants can deploy to lessen the negative impacts, and even grow.

The Three Major Obstacles for Restaurants and Owners

There are three significant challenges that every restaurant and restaurant owner may have to face in some fashion as they re-open to dine-in customers during this ongoing pandemic.

Social Distancing Rules

Colorado’s reopening guidelines, issued May 24, mandate six feet of social distancing and a capacity limit of 50 percent and 50 guests.  This will create financial challenges for restaurants that cannot operate at full capacity, or need to revamp their entire dining layout to meet rules.

Customer Uncertainty

Reopening isn’t going to make customers simply return as if nothing happened. Sales could be lower than they were before Covid-19, and until a vaccine or treatment is released, the existential threat of illness will keep some customers away.

Payments and Merchant Account Problems

With restaurant closures, some owners are struggling with debt and personal credit hits. Previously “low-risk” businesses, like restaurants, are sometimes being seen as riskier by many banks and credit card processors. The ongoing threat of a Covid-19 resurgence makes any new or existing restaurant venture more uncertain. This is a direct threat to the fundamental ability for restaurants to process transactions via credit cards, a major source of payments.

How to Overcome The Biggest Covid-19 Related Obstacles

Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome with creativity and the right solutions. Below are a few options every restaurant owner should consider.

Lean Into eCommerce and Merchandise

Alternative revenue streams can be a lifeline that not only carries restaurants through the crisis, but aids in long term growth. If you don’t have a website, set one up and add an ecommerce store! Potential items you can sell include branded merchandise (t-shirts, hats, magnets, mugs, etc), and even food items such as sauces, spices, condiments, and other shippable products. 

It’s never been easier or cheaper to set up an ecommerce website, whether you’re using an out of the box digital commerce service (such as Shopify or WooCommerce), or paying a freelance web designer to get a custom site live (or eCommerce ready).

Rethink How You Accept Payments

With social distancing guidelines, contactless payments are going to continue to rise. Customers are going to expect to be able to pay without physically handling cash or handing a server a credit card, leaving traditional PoS systems in the dust.

Ask your merchant services provider what their equipment options are. There are a multitude of mobile and wireless payment equipment options, and giving customers the option to use new payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay could make tremendous business sense.

Allowing customers to order ahead of time and pay online (for carryout or even dine-in orders) is another innovative way to help improve sales, meet social distancing guidelines, and set your restaurant for success long after Covid-19.

No matter your plan, ask your merchant services provider about what equipment they offer and how it could be implemented.

Find a Merchant Services Provider Who Specializes In Risk

Restaurant owners whose credit may have taken a hit as a result of Covid-19 related losses may find challenges obtaining processing accounts for new ventures (or expanding to new locations). However, there are options out there and if you’re struggling with poor credit, or find your new restaurant is being turned down for credit card processing, look for a high risk merchant account provider

We’ll Get Through This

More than ever before, people need comfort, and great food and drink can be a tremendous part of that. Like a good stew or refreshing salad… don’t be afraid to mix things up!

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