Urban vs rural hospitality businesses: Where are the opportunities?

Many cafés and restaurants, both in rural and urban settings, face different challenges during the pandemic. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show more than a third of Australia's hospitality staff were laid off when COVID-19 restrictions began. Due to travel restrictions, exporters and importers are also experiencing logistical issues.  

Although the hospitality industry has been experiencing economic turmoil, many business owners are still trying new ways to adapt to the new normal. A report reveals that 48% of restaurant owners introduced new staffing and shift patterns, while 42% optimised their menus and 25% made point of sale changes.

All these major adjustments were necessary because there are elements that remained constant. Rent did not change, electricity and other utility bills are still there, and everyone needs to adapt to the consumers’ changing needs.

 

Urban vs rural hospitality businesses: Where are the opportunities?

 

Where are the opportunities for growth during this time?

The adjustments that business owners like you need to implement should not just be band-aid solutions to the problem. They have to be sustainable as we’re all transitioning into the new normal.

If your business isn't thriving enough because of the global crisis, don’t worry. Instead of seeing the loss, look at the opportunities where you can improve. Whether you’re located in the city or in the suburbs, here are some things you can develop to allow you to increase revenue and grow your business. 


Customer retention strategies

If you were doing things right before the pandemic, you have more than enough loyal customers. Some of them may have not visited you since the pandemic started, so provide them with reasons to come back. Give them a safe place to order food and drinks from. 

You must put your game on by keeping them happy and satisfied. Customer satisfaction can easily be achieved if you make the necessary improvements in your establishment.

 

  • Offer a one-of-a-kind customer experience
For rural cafés and restaurants, it’s quite uncommon to focus on giving your customers a technological experience. This is where the opportunity comes in. As simple as offering Wi-Fi or free internet access is already an enhancement your customers would appreciate. 
As for urban hospitality businesses, you need to be more creative when it comes to fostering relationships with your customers. Understand that consumer behaviours have changed over the months when everyone was in a panic state. Increasing your online presence is also a great way to tap more customers and connect with them in a more personal and meaningful way. Having a special connection will turn them into loyal customers in the long run.
  • Deliveries, curbside pickup and online reservations
  • Deliveries are not new to the industry, but several businesses have decided to push more on this to serve more customers. You can rely on third-party apps like UberEats and Deliveroo, for both takeout and delivery. However, if you want to reduce costs, you may opt for an in-house or direct online ordering system.
    For takeaway and advanced reservations, you can maximise the use of social media to get orders from your regular customers. You can start by announcing your café will begin taking orders for takeaway and advanced reservations online. 
    Add a tab to your Facebook page that directs to your online menu. You can also post a video or infographics showing how to use your online ordering system. This will give your customers the opportunity to see how it works. To entice them more, you can also offer discounts or vouchers for first-time orders. 

     

    Hiring experienced staff

    After creating multiple income streams such as online orders, takeaway and deliveries, you will need to rebuild your trusted staff. Since many businesses had to lay off many of their experienced employees, you can take advantage of this opportunity and hire them. 

    You don’t have to spend so much on training if you’re hiring experienced employees. However, you still need to make sure your staff are well educated on your concept and how to prepare your products so they can offer a more fulfilling experience for the customers. 

    Keep in mind that employee development is achieved by providing your employees with proper training. It will help them feel more confident in providing better customer service. 


    Building a relationship with suppliers

    You probably experienced limiting your menu because your usual supplies were not available and delivery cannot even get to you. Ordering supplies out of town or getting them from overseas is not sustainable during this time. Delivery avenues are blocked, borders are closed, and shipments are still barred.

    This is why building a relationship with suppliers within your area is important. Try looking for local resources like farms outside the city or within the rural area. By doing this, you’re also helping your local economy and reducing your carbon footprint. You’ll also be able to provide fresh ingredients to your customers. 

    If you put your trust in these local suppliers, they will provide you with great customer experience. This is more cost-effective, less worrisome and also more sustainable for your business. It’s something you can adapt not only during the pandemic, but it can also help you in scaling up your business in the future. 


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