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Toronto, Sept. 25, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A majority of Canadians trust restaurants are doing a good job keeping them safe, according to a new Restaurants Canada survey.

“Canadians have told us loud and clear that restaurants are doing a good job ensuring their health and safety, and are an important part of their local communities and economy,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Canada’s restaurants have quickly and effectively adapted to continually evolving public health guidance over the course of the pandemic. Through investment in training and ensuring use of all necessary health and safety PPE, restaurants continue to provide safe spaces to enjoy meals with friends and family throughout the ongoing crisis.”

Survey reveals Canadians are confident in restaurants to keep them safe

In response to a recent Restaurants Canada survey:

  • 87 per cent of Canadians said restaurants are doing a good job keeping their customers safe.
  • 86 per cent said they don’t want province-wide shutdowns of indoor dining when COVID-19 cases increase in their communities.
  • 92 per cent of respondents said restaurants are an important part of their community.

Survey Methodology

Findings in this release are from a survey conducted by Restaurants Canada from Sept. 17-18, 2020 with a nationally representative sample of 1,504 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a random sample with this sample would result in a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

 
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September 25, 2020

Manitoba’s public health officials will be elevating the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System level for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region to Restricted (orange) effective Sept. 28, with new measures being put in place help slow the spread of COVID-19.

This includes the:
• City of Winnipeg;
• City of Selkirk;
• Town of Stonewall;
• Rural Municipality (RM) of Cartier;
• RM of Headingley;
• RM of Macdonald;
• RM of Ritchot;
• RM of Rockwood;
• RM of Rosser;
• RM of Springfield;
• RM of St. Andrews;
• RM of St. Clements;
• RM of St. François Xavier;
• RM of Taché;
• RM of West St. Paul;
• RM of East St. Paul;
• Town of Niverville; and
• Village of Dunnottar

As of Monday, September 28, masks will be mandatory in all indoor public places in these communities. Public gatherings will also be restricted to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors.
 
These restrictions will remain in place for a minimum of four weeks (two incubation periods of the virus). Further direction or additional restrictions may be put in place by public health at any time. All other existing orders and rules for schools, child care, retail, museums, theatres and casinos will remain the same for the time being.
 
In addition to these measures, government and public health officials are consulting with the restaurant industry as well as bars, beverage rooms, brew pubs, microbreweries and distilleries on steps that could be implemented to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Additional measures may be put in place following these consultations.

 
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September 24, 2020

Since the start of the pandemic, restaurants across the country have been on a rollercoaster ride. Businesses have been forced to pivot away from on-premises dining to offer on-line ordering and take-out services. While some had well established services already in place, others have had to start from nothing to provide these capabilities. Here are 5 tips for planning for the future to provide the best service:

  1. Understand Your Customers

Whether fine-dining or fast casual, great service now revolves around the customer experience you bring to every interaction. Your customers need to know that they can depend on you to safely prepare their food and to keep it hot, in the moment they want to pick it up or have it delivered. For this to work seamlessly, you need to know if:

  • Your web and mobile ordering systems are operational
  • The customer must go inside the store for pick-up, or if you’re going to deliver it to them at the curb
  • You’re going to offer home delivery as an option, and how much it will cost

Whichever pick-up or delivery options you provide, make them as seamless as possible to meet new consumer expectations.

  1. Focus on Personalization

Many restaurants have set themselves apart by offering exceptional personalized service. The people that answer the phone for takeout orders are now your frontline for customers. They need to be attentive to customer needs and develop the ability to upsell or offer alternatives while taking orders. When your customers call, your employees should:

  • Pick up the phone right away and say a friendly “hello”
  • Recognize the order number and greet the customer by name
  • Know the customers’ ordering history so they can personalize the experience
  • Ask about specific requirements or instructions

It all comes down to making a connection. Realize that these services are here to stay and the skills you develop now will pay off down the road. 

  1. Prepare for Changing Conditions

Across the country, openings and closings are in flux. Some establishments have opened, only to find that they may have to close again. Crisis planning plays a critical part in how successfully you re-start. You need to adapt your concept and put the right processes in place for the restaurant to comfortably open as efficiently as possible. No one can know how often they will need to reopen or close, so your plan needs to address changing conditions. While disruptive, it’s an opportunity to fortify your systems, put training materials together and rearrange your establishment to accommodate your customers as safely as possible.

  1. Create Frictionless Transactions

Contactless delivery is the new partner to frictionless transactions, from ordering, to picking up food to paying with a credit card. The more you can integrate the better. For in-house dining, how tables are separated, how plexiglass partitions are used and how staff adhere to new policies and procedures all reinforce the level of trust your customers will have in your establishment. This in turn helps the guest experience become a more pleasant one. 

  1. Implement New Technology

While some restaurants may be a bit behind the curve in terms of investing in technology, the good news is that there are a variety of new tools available for the hospitality space. Whether it's online ordering, reservations, or touchless pay systems, many technology systems are both easy to implement and affordable. Be sure to make use of the free tools that are out there – check that all your listings on social media, Google and Yelp are up to date with your correct name, address, phone and hours of operation so when people look for you, they see accurate and current information. 

Brands that were positioned with the right technology, such as pizza delivery and other fast and casual outlets have thrived during the pandemic. But for all restaurants, now is the time to put these tools in place. You don’t have to wait for perfection – get into the mix and adopt the technology tools that make it easy for customers to order, pay and pick up.

Bottom-Line

Restaurants and hospitality businesses of all stripes have shown great resilience in this challenging time. Many have discovered they are better at adapting to change than they thought when this crisis started. There are many new ideas and best practices that you can put into play to help you get your business moving again and the positive steps you take today will equip you to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

 
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The best way to get an economy going again is to get to Canadians’ wallets by way of their stomachs. But it’s a long road.

Up to 25 per cent of restaurants in Canada have closed for the season and perhaps for good. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce expects 60 per cent of restaurants to close permanently by November. Even if that forecast is a little extreme, fear of failure is surging for many establishments as summer ends.

According to Statistics Canada and others, revenues across the industry are at about 65 per cent of what they were pre-COVID-19.

The numbers show how resilient some of operators are. Many found great, innovative ways to bring food to our doors in lieu of just waiting for us to show up.

Since June, though, many of us have showed up. But the fall is now upon us and patio season is almost over in many parts of the country. Restaurant patios have expanded. Cities allowed for more flexibility, allowing patios in parking lots, sidewalks and streets.

Chances are we’ll see more patio heaters keeping patrons warm as operators try to extend the busy season the best they can. Unfortunately, that only goes so far in Canada.

Menus have offered fewer choices to patrons, while prices have risen to help operators make half-empty restaurants profitable. We’re clearly seeing signs of a very weakened industry.

Over the last few months, many meals served in the industry were actually ‘sponsored’ by major hospitality suppliers Sysco and Gordon Food Service. Many restaurants are taking 90 to 120 days to pay bills, and credit ratings are diving in the sector. At some point, more will close. Based on credit bureau information, approximately two out of every five meals are currently paid within 90 days by restaurants. Financial pressures are felt across the board.

Fear of COVID-19 is certainly one factor keeping people away from restaurants. According to a survey conducted in August, more than half of Canadians plan to return to restaurants after a second wave of the virus.

The economy is also problematic. Many people’s professional situations have changed since the start of COVID-19. Recent labour data shows that the Canadian economy is still a million jobs short of February statistics, prior to pandemic.

However, the scariest statistic has to do with telecommuting. Almost a quarter of Canadians are working for an employer who’s considering allowing more staff to work from home after the pandemic. We’re already seeing how this shift can be devastating to downtown cores across the country. People aren’t coming into work – they prefer to stay home and when we’re home, our behaviours toward food are very different.

Before the pandemic, approximately 38 per cent of our food budget was dedicated to food consumed outside the home. We’re likely at 25 per cent now, if not a little less. The bulk of our money is spent at the grocery store to get us busy in our kitchens. And chances are we’re not going back to 38 per cent any time soon. It will take years, not months, for things to return to ‘normal.’

The federal government’s reluctance to use the hospitality industry as a means to get our economy on a recovery path will likely continue.

But if we use restaurants and hotels as bait, consumers will buy more than just a meal or hotel stay. They’ll buy clothing and other goods, and use more services, boosting the overall economy.

New Brunswick is helping its hospitality industry recover by providing an incentive to citizens. The Explore NB Travel Incentive program was created to stimulate the tourism industry in the wake of the pandemic. It allows New Brunswickers to apply for a 20 per cent rebate on eligible expenses while taking a vacation. That includes paid overnight stays in the province between July and September.

It’s a brilliant move to support the tourism industry and the results are compelling: restaurants and hotels are busy.

However, neither the federal government nor other provinces have pursued such a program. Yet for the fall and the harsh winter ahead, the industry needs all the help it can get.

Hospitality has always been a challenging industry. In the best of times, 80 per cent of restaurants close within five years. COVID-19 has made things even more trying for the sector. The bloodbath we’re witnessing will only continue.

To the disappointment of many customers, across Canada some great culinary institutions have made their closures very public in recent weeks. Everything from cherished local restaurants to those run by immigrant families who have created jobs and expanded Canadian cuisine are closing their doors after years of business.

It’s heartbreaking. And it’s quite unfortunate that policy-makers aren’t taking notice of the losses in a sector that plays an important role in our economy.

 
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September 23, 2020

Here are 10 ways that a mobile-based, contactless, in-seat ordering, tipping, and payment solution with full POS integration can help to drive revenue and manage the guest experience:

  1. Provides a True In-Seat Elevated Guest Experience — To thrive, full-service restaurants must excel at offering their guests an elevated dining experience. A mobile contactless guest ordering and payment solution must replicate and compliment that experience. Guests require the flexibility to identify allergies and assign names to each guest in their party. They require the ability to order multiple times throughout their visit, review their evolving guest check, and pay at the end from their mobile device. To fill the need for an in-seat guest solution during these unprecedented times, some providers have rebranded their online delivery/takeout solutions for in-seat use. Unfortunately, those solutions require guests to order and pay with each session, effectively turning their visits into an online delivery experiences within the restaurant. A true purpose-built in-seat solution is necessary to elevate the dining experience and keep the guests coming back.
  1. Facilitates Flexible Food Prep Timing — When a party of four visits a full-service restaurant, they want their meals prepared and served at the same time. The flexibility in having a mobile contactless solution that can intelligently merge and time ordered items by course will go a long way in satisfying the service standards and expectations of the guest. Enabling multiple guests at the same table to order individually from their own mobile devices, and have those individual orders merged, held, and released by a server/team member to the kitchen for prep and timing is essential.
  1. Ensures QR Code Security — QR Codes have experienced a rebirth with the release of new contactless solutions. They are now used to browse restaurant menus, order food and beverages, and pay with a mobile device while seated in a restaurant. While static table-based QR codes are simple and convenient, they create significant security risks. Unique order-based QR codes presented to guests at each table is necessary to avoid the following potential pitfalls, including:
  • Pictures of Static QR codes used from anywhere, making it possible for someone outside the restaurant to access and view live checks.  
  • Pictures of Static QR codes used from anywhere. making it possible for someone outside the restaurant to place orders on live checks.  
  • Hackers/third-parties can develop software to monitor sales activity and disrupt your business.
  1. Minimizes Shared Touch Points — Amidst a pandemic and likely for the very distant future, minimizing shared touch points is paramount to guest comfort. Offering a safe and contactless solution that enables your customers to view the menu, order, and pay through their personal device will go a long way towards building consumer confidence.
  1. Expands Acceptance of Mobile Payments — According to Statista.com, there were approximately 441 million Apple Pay Users worldwide in Sept of 2019 and growing quickly. Based on the figures from December 2019, Google Pay and Samsung Pay combined were still expected to have fewer users worldwide than Apple Pay. A seamless and frictionless payment experience with the global mobile wallet leader ensures expanded acceptance and adoption. Accepting all credit cards is a must but accepting the world’s No. 1 mobile wallet will speed the payment process and reduce the potential of credit card fraud associated with presenting a physical credit card.
  1. Maximizes Labor Cost Savings — A traditionally low margin industry is now faced with challenges that even contingency plans couldn’t have prepared for. Offering an effective contactless platform will lead to increased adoption by your guests. Guest adoption of these solutions provides an opportunity to reduce labor costs without affecting the guest experience.
  1. Enables Seamless POS Integration — Deployment and ongoing management of a contactless platform is more palatable with the right point-of-sale integration. As an operator, do you want to force your guests to order from the mobile device or from a server? Do you want to want to make menu changes on your POS and then make the same changes again on a third-party non-integrated platform? The answer should be “No” to both. Enabling both servers and guests to interchangeably add to an order will undoubtedly lead to a better experience. Sharing menus across all your platforms (fixed POS, mobile POS, guest-facing contactless) will create obvious efficiencies and happy managers.
  1. Speeds Table Turns & Increases Check Averages — Pre-pandemic, deploying solutions to speed table turns and increase averages were a priority for restaurants. In the current environment — with capacity restrictions in many regions — this is mandatory to optimize the business. The industry must provide an exceptional contactless experience with server interaction on request and then flip the table for the next group as quickly as possible. Industry stats show an 8 percent to 17 percent decrease in guest stay when using a guest facing device at the table and a 10 percent to 21 percent increase in check amount.
  1. Simplifies Customization — The in-seat guest solution must minimally offer enough customizable options to match the restaurant’s unique branding. Flexibility must exist for colors, fonts, pricing, food-and-beverage images, and long descriptions for menu items. Guests will adopt a contactless solution that is easy to navigate and enhances the dining experience.  
  1. Drives Loyalty — Restaurant patrons will want to feel valued, and operators will want them coming back. Providing customers with the opportunity to automatically earn and redeem loyalty points through a mobile platform is critical for retention and reducing customer acquisition costs. 

To welcome people back to restaurants safely and responsibly, there needs to be a solution in place that will support restricted on-premise dining, limit contact between guests and staff, and actively demonstrate the operator’s commitment to safety and sanitation. A purpose-built, customizable, mobile in-seat ordering, tipping and payment platform not only provide the 10 benefits listed above, but it also goes a long way towards building customer confidence and driving revenues for restaurant operations in today’s post-COVID environment. With most restaurants still operating at 50 percent capacity or less, this is critical to their financial stability and the future of hospitality.

 

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