With coronavirus lockdowns starting to lift across the world, restaurants are getting the green light to reopen, but social distancing measures and protection for both employees and customers mean that the reality is going to look very different than it once had.

As fine dining, casual dining, and fast-food restaurants begin to reopen, one effective strategy is emerging to keep staff and diners safe, and it has everything to do with digital technology.

In this article, we will delve into the practicalities of this effective strategy and detail how you, too, can implement this innovative digital technology at your restaurant as you reopen to ensure the highest level of safety for all involved. 

Before we get started, let’s take a look at the reopening guidelines issued by the National Restaurant Association. Be sure to note the importance of securing your ServSafe Food Manger Certification in order to stay in compliance with your state’s reopening procedures. Having select members of your management and staff certified in time is a critical first step since the Food & Drug Administration now requires every facility to have a certified person in charge on site during open hours of operation. Here are the following steps: 

  • • Provide ServSafe food handler training for your workers. Just because not every employee on site is certified, doesn’t mean that anyone should go untrained. Remember, everyone who works in your kitchen and also all servers on the floor are your front line and can either stop the spread of COVID-19 or worsen it. Educating all of your employees and training them properly will protect them, you, and all of your guests.
  • • Implementing technology within as many systems and operations as possible is your key to reducing and eliminating human-to-human contact. Put contactless payment systems in place. Automate your ordering systems whenever possible. Offer mobile ordering apps, website ordering pages, and start using simple texts whenever communication is necessary. As you begin to reopen, use screens to convey information, whether it be in the form of in-store digital signage, curbside digital signage, or online platforms such as your website, social media, and internet search engines.
  • • The best advice for safely reopening your restaurant comes from the Food & Drug Administration. Its newest Food Code guidelines—Best Practices for Retail Food Stores, Restaurants, and Food Pick-Up/Delivery Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic—are now available here. We strongly recommend you familiarize yourself with these new guidelines, as well as read the National Restaurant Association’s Reopening Guidance

If you’ve had a look at the recommended guidelines and are ready to dive in, let’s get started!

 

TECHNOLOGY WITHIN EVERY OPERATION

As you were reading the above guideline bullet points, you probably noticed that the second point was all about implementing technology within as many operational systems within your restaurant as possible. This is a high-tech way to reduce and even eliminate person-to-person contact, which as we all know is how COVID-19 has been known to spread.

This guideline isn’t meant to suggest that you should replace employees with robots. But it does mean that by using the right technology in the right manner, you can provide your customers with natural ways to stay socially distanced and safe.

Let’s look at the most common employee-to-customer operation to see how it can be modified using digital technology.

We are referring to ordering procedures. Whether you own a fine dining or casual dining restaurant, the protocol for taking an order generally involves a waiter directly speaking with the customer face-to-face while jotting down the items they want. Whether standing in front of the customer’s table or across the take-out counter, it’s probably too close for comfort. How can more physical distance be placed between waiter and customer without increasing awkwardness? By using digital technology.

Digital menus are your starting point. Once you create a digital menu, you can offer it to customers via a mobile ordering app, via your website take-out & delivery ordering page, and also via digital devices within your restaurant and at each table.

If creating a digital menu sounds daunting, and if you feel like you wouldn’t know where to begin in terms of shopping around for the best devices to display these menus within your restaurant, then keep reading. We will recommend the best digital solutions on the market today so that you know exactly how to implement the suggestions in this article.

 

CHOOSE THE BEST TECHNOLOGY SOFTWARE

Let’s elaborate on the scenario above. Instead of your waiters standing in front of customer tables, your customers can instead use digital technology to order using a device, and your waiters can then collect the order on the other end. But this means that you will have to supply the digital devices within your restaurant with the actual menu and other digital content.

Depending on the software you end up going with, creating digital content can either become a full-time job, or an effortless task that doesn’t take up too much of your time. But how will you be able to identify which software will make your life easier and which will make it harder?

There are certain key features to look for when choosing the best technology software on the market today.

The protocol for creating digital content that can be displayed on your in-store signs and devices, as well as online, involves using software to build the content, organizing your content in a dashboard, and easily exporting your created content, whether you export as JPEGs and PNGs for social media or export directly to your restaurant signage and devices.

So, what are the key software features you should look for as you begin to shop around for the best restaurant ad design software?

First and most importantly, you want software that delivers professional-looking results regardless of the user’s design experience and skill level. Let’s face it, you don’t want to buy software that leaves you in a position where you have to take a design course just to know how to use it. Extremely user-friendly software is out there, just be sure to select software that offers drag-and-drop tools, pre-made templates, and a library of restaurant-specific images to choose from.

You’ll also want software that allows you to choose or alter background colors, gradients, fonts, and photos, and that will enable you to resize, rotate, and manipulate your designs easily. Be sure to look for software that allows you to customize your ads with layering tools and also provides additional visual possibilities with animation.

Lastly, be sure to pick software that is cloud-based, rather than desktop based, so that you’ll have the flexibility to change your digital signage wherever you are, whether the images you create are exported directly to your restaurant devices or downloaded for use on social media, website, or email newsletter campaigns.

 

DIGITAL CONTENT THAT WORKS IN-STORE AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Versatility is everything when it comes to designing digital content, menus, and ads. Your physical restaurant might literally have an actual location while your restaurant’s social media accounts are only virtual, but technology has closed the gap.

The flashy, engaging content of your social media posts don’t have to remain limited to the internet. Just because social media exists in an online setting, doesn’t mean that you can’t bring its images, graphics, and even video into your brick-and-mortar restaurant.

You can integrate your social media into your restaurant experience and use it to engage customers, increase sales, spread awareness, and build brand loyalty, but only if you put the right ad software in place.

If you apply your time and effort into creating a single social media post, you don’t want to have to go through the same process per platform and then do it all over again to create content for your restaurant. You’re going to want to find software that can take a single image you’ve created and resize, reformate, and rearrange it for use everywhere.

You’re also going to want to go with simplistic, user-friendly software that provides professional-grade images, graphics. Look for cost-effective software that’s cloud-based, offers a month-to-month payment plan, and allows you to cancel anytime in case you aren’t satisfied.

Remember earlier in this article when we mentioned that we would recommend the best digital marketing software solution available today? Well, the best option on the market that we recommend you go with also happens to be FREE for the remainder of 2020.

FasTrax AdPro is the leading ad graphic design software for business owners, not trained graphic designers, and is a tool built specifically for fine dining, casual dining, and fast food restaurants, and of course restaurants that offer all three under the same roof.

AdPro takes the guess work out of creating ads for all of your marketing campaigns, both online and also in-store because the graphics you design in AdPro can be displayed on all of your in-store digital signage. AdPro’s large assortment of ready-made ad templates are completely customizable so you can feature best-selling menu items as well as time-sensitive deals and discounts, whether in your social media posts and ads, or on your store signs. Just choose the template that best fits your needs, change the text, photos, or background, and create your ads in no time…

…and also, as we just mentioned, you can create all of your ads for free for the rest of 2020.

FasTrax understands what business owners in the restaurant industry have gone through since these lockdown orders were put into place months ago. Restaurants across the board have suffered and everyone at FasTrax wants you to get back on your business feet as easily, quickly, and cost-effectively as possible, which is why we’re offering FREE AdPro for the rest of 2020.

You can create gorgeous graphics to advertise your restaurant all year until December 31, 2020 for free using FasTrax AdPro!

Create branded images for all of your print, web, email, and social media campaigns by designing and customizing rotating, animated, dynamic graphics that are easily displayed directly to your in-store digital signage as well. Our easy-to-use software is cloud-based and all digital work can be downloaded easily for fast upload onto social media and other online campaigns such as your email newsletters, website updates, and blogs.

 

FasTrax AdPro Features

  • • Displays high res, engaging images, graphics, and video directly to your digital signs
  • • Choose from over 1,000 pre-designed templates built specifically for restaurants
  • • Peruse an expansive photo library to build your ads from the ground up
  • • Customize your ads with layering tools and intuitive navigation like the pros
  • • Select eye-catching animation graphics to increase customer engagement and sales
  • • Design and edit your ads from anywhere using our cloud-based FTx Control Center
  • • Create branded images for print, web, email marketing, and social media campaigns

 

Take us up on our FREE OFFER from FasTrax AdPro throughout the rest of 2020 to support your restaurant reopening efforts!

You don’t have to be a professional graphic designer to create quality graphics with FasTrax AdPro, for all of your digital signage needs. Our graphic design software was engineered to deliver professional results regardless of a user’s design experience or skill level. The extremely user-friendly software features drag and drop tools, and context sensitive menus, that help you easily navigate your way through the design process.

Learn how FasTrax AdPro can benefit your restaurant reopening strategy, especially when implemented with FasTrax Digital Signage, by contacting our FasTrax team today!