Why is it important to offer a new menu adapted for deliveries? – opinion

A business expert from Lahav, a Bank Hapoalim branch manager and the owners of a restaurant and a café who began operating a delivery service explain how to cope with the financial crisis.

Bank Hapoalim (photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Bank Hapoalim
(photo credit: AVIV GOTTLIEB)
Shlomi Furman
We Created a Dedicated Delivery Menu
“My partner Yoav Cohen and I hold the franchise for the meat and hamburger chain ‘Black’ in northern Israel. We have one restaurant in the Ofer Grand Canyon mall and an additional one in the Cinemall shopping center in Lev HaMifratz, which we opened 13 years ago, concurrently to the Yes Planet cinema complex. Before the coronavirus arrived, we were working hard and benefiting from the best of all worlds—customers who get in their cars and come specifically to eat at our restaurant, passengers using the adjacent train station, patients and visitors to the Assuta medical center on the floor above, as well as customers who have come to watch a film at the cinema. Combining the cinema experience with a visit to a restaurant either beforehand or after has long-since become part of the entertainment tradition in Israel.
“When the first lockdown was declared, we had 150 employees between the two restaurants, and we immediately informed them they were being furloughed. We understood that same day that the only way to act was through deliveries, and we built a dedicated delivery menu. Some of our meals are prepared on the plate and it is impossible to pack them to go, like our desserts. We also took our largest hamburgers out of the menu, because we decided that every delivery had to arrive within an hour of the order being placed, and it took too long to grill them. We connected with a delivery service company, left a skeleton staff of cooks and people to take orders and made the necessary adjustments to the restaurant’s app, which makes it very easy to place orders online.
“We opened the restaurant to the public when the first lockdown ended, but we continued with the deliveries, which at present have become the largest part of our activity. It took time for people to start coming back to restaurants. We had stabilized ourselves at around 50% of last year’s turnover—and then the second lockdown happened. It was not a pleasant feeling. It’s not easy to take employees who have just come back to work and furlough them again. Now, like everyone else, we are slowly re-emerging from the second lockdown and waiting for someone in the top echelons of government to understand that we have to find a way to live alongside the coronavirus.”
The writer is the co-franchise owner for the ‘Black’ chain of restaurants in Cinemall Lev HaMifratz and Ofer Grand Canyon in Haifa. Tel: 050-7557159
Rinat Mor Shmilovich
The Delivery Capability Was Set Up Overnight
“We opened our place three and a half years ago. It’s a “boutique-y” café, and my partner Yael and I prepare and bake everything here, with a focus on the health aspect—baked goods, croissants, sandwiches, salads and desserts.
Two weeks before the first lockdown, we felt a sudden sharp drop—I would even go so far as to say a halt—in footfall to the café. It was worrying. I spoke to friends who own restaurants in the city and I realized that they were all experiencing the same uncertainty and confusion. It was a new situation that nobody was quite sure how to deal with.
“When the lockdown started, we furloughed our six employees. While we were sat at home, we realized that we had no alternative but to work with deliveries—and within a matter of days we set up a whole system. It’s not an easy logistical operation, both in terms of disposal packaging and in terms of transporting everything and making sure it reaches the client in one piece. So we changed our menu and began to work from home, because the educational institutions were closed and the children were at home.
When the first lockdown ended, we revolutionized our business—we canceled the table service and became self-service, because we realized that we had no choice but to chart a new course and reduce our staff numbers.
We also decided to focus on deliveries, with the goal of making them a significant part of our income.
We carried on well like that until the second lockdown. Admittedly not with the same levels we were reaching pre-coronavirus, but enough to enable us to keep our heads ever so slightly above water. We went back to a slightly different approach—I prepared the food in the restaurant and Yael stayed at home with the children.
We are only now coming back from the second lockdown, but we are staying optimistic, because there’s no alternative.”
The writer is a co-owner of the “Pooshtak” café and dairy restaurant Herzl 5, Frank House, Ashkelon. Tel: 050-8582425
Dan Cristal
Sign up to Loyalty Programs
Running a restaurant or café in the current situation is not a simple prospect. What they are being called upon to do is “management in conditions of uncertainty”, to put it mildly. Both the restaurateurs here are demonstrating agile management, adjusting themselves rapidly and demonstrating flexibility in the face of a constantly-shifting environment. That, broadly, has to be the aim—making adjustments on the fly as circumstances demand. On a practical level, in order to establish firm long-term foundations, the following steps are recommended: customer segmentation—how many are occasional, how many regulars, and how many “institutional”, i.e. coming from organizations. After carrying out this segmentation, restaurants should get in touch with those organizations whose employees eat there on a daily basis and offer them a discount or special offer that will convert them into “bedrock customers” who can be built upon. Should there not be any such customers yet, I would recommend signing up with loyalty programs/discount cards such as Cibus. This step will allow you to expand your base of institutional bedrock customers. At the same time, it is important to quickly develop an app or any alternative solution for ordering online via smartphone.
The writer is a business and management consultant and an expert in human capital development
Einav Aviram
Improve Access to Online Orders
“The economic coronavirus” has impacted the majority of sectors of the economy, and the restaurant and café sector—known as a high-risk sector even at the best of times—has been hit particularly hard.
Restaurants that are able to successfully overcome this incredibly challenging time are the ones that will be able to reinvent themselves and respond rapidly to the changing guidelines and customer tastes. It is vital to keep a finger on the pulse during these times—on the one hand to work to streamline and reduce expenses, and on the other hand to see where changes and adjustments can be made to reach new target audiences and increase sales. Transitioning from table service to sales through deliveries/takeaway, updating and adjusting the menu for deliveries, easing access to online orders, adapting the packaging for transporting and highlighting the factors that make the business unique—that is undoubtedly the way forward.
Alongside these, it is important to manage cash flow carefully and to find funding solutions for gaps in cash flow that may emerge.
The writer is the manager of the Ashkelon branch of Bank Hapoalim