Despite the waves of recent shutdowns of indoor dining, we are sure you are excited about the recent news around vaccines for COVID-19. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel! So what does this mean for our industry?
It is now only a matter of time before things get back to normal. So it’s prudent for us to start thinking about life after the virus—or at least one where the virus is no longer central to everything we do.
As cases started climbing, jurisdictions across the country implemented measures to restrict human contact. Our industry has been disproportionately impacted by these measures. We know this because Presto is a market, technology, and thought leader with over 11 years of deploying order-and-pay solutions in restaurant dining rooms. During this time of need, we have brought new contactless products to the market.
The immunity provided by the vaccine may last only a few months. We don’t know what level of protection it will provide and whether it will protect different segments of population to the same degree. Regulators are likely going to make a decision on an emergency use authorization shortly, at which point the vaccine will start rolling out, starting with first responders and high risk individuals.
We expect the next 6 months to be about cautious optimism and things may only be half-way normal. As more people get vaccinated, jurisdictional restrictions are going to ease and we can start reopening indoor dining. However, it will be important for restaurants to operate in an environment that can reassure customers about their personal safety. Dining room traffic will increase steadily over time, likely getting back to ‘normal’ or even beyond normal within 12 months. It is also likely that younger people or guests living in lower population density areas will return to dine-in faster than other population segments.
Restaurants will need to develop strategies on how to manage staffing in the face of uncertain guest traffic. Due to the prolonged uncertainty in indoor dining, expanded unemployment benefits from a government stimulus package, risks to frontline workers, and uncertain tip income, it is likely that many front-of-house staff may not return even as indoor dining starts coming back.
We believe that technology will play a very critical role in enabling this new normal. Here are a few enterprise-grade Presto products that can help you navigate through this. All these products seamlessly integrate with your POS system and require no modifications to your existing concept. They are built upon our 11 years of experience deploying front-of-house technologies at large casual dining restaurants.
The COVID-19 crisis is likely to bring some tectonic shifts to the restaurant industry and accelerate others. Dine-in will be transformed in a substantial way and the takeout / delivery model is here to stay across all segments. We are likely to see more technology in the front of house and greater pressure on achieving operational efficiency in the back of house. A judicious utilization of technology, people, and processes is going to be critical in this new normal—and the vaccines are only going to accelerate what is about to come.
Stay tuned for an upcoming article that will provide you a timeline of what to expect next year and how you can start planning for it now.