Why, “We’re Open!” Is Not Enough – How to Make Your Food Business Stand Out During COVID-19


COVID-19 had changed the way food services everywhere are doing business. But even with ordered shutdowns, your food service has a chance to survive.

You probably are taking delivery orders. You may offer a pickup service. You’re probably set up on Grubhub, Postmates, Uber Eats, and the others. But everyone else can say the same! This post will tell you why it's not enough to say, "We're Open!" or, "We Deliver!" and what you can do to help set your business apart from others and maintain a competitive edge.

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The “We’re Open” Sign Is Not Enough

The need for competitive advantage has never been greater. People spending stimulus checks need to think of and call on your business first when they're placing a food order for their dinner at home during the stay at home ordinance. Consumers today make food choices not just because they are hungry - they seek freedom from the fear of getting sick. While you're probably already following general COVID-19 safety guidelines, it's best you are going above and beyond to ensure safety and address customers' fears, like:

Have workers clean work surfaces with viricide on a schedule.

These steps are from guidelines published by the Food & Drug Administration updated for COVID-19. Open the link and make your own list to fit your exact business circumstances.

We do not advise your list to include steps already in place because of local ordinance (like workers wearing hats or washing hands after going to the bathroom). After all, this topic is all about offering a competitive advantage!

Ensure workers wear face masks at all times.
Keep workstations 6 feet apart.
Have workers wrap food containers to prevent cross-contamination.
Make sure workers never touch foods once cooked.
Have a manager take temperatures of workers at the start of a shift, sending anyone with a fever home.
Set up a pickup zone away from employees for delivery service personnel and customers to access orders.

Remember: You don't have to be perfect. Do what you can. Address customers’ fears with concrete changes that will speak to them!

Marketing Communication
Once you have these operational changes in place, it's time to let your customers know about it!

Today more than ever before, people crave facts. Therefore, you should tell them exactly the changes made. Post examples like the below to your social channels:

  1. Pictures of employees cleaning surfaces.
  2. Images of gloves and face masks on workers preparing food; bright smiles behind the masks... that you can see through the eyes!
  3. Snaps showing social distancing in your prep area.

You could also go live on your social channel to do a walk through of your space to show all of these changes you've made to stay safe. Then, keep reminding your audience of these things. Don't just post once and forget it.

We think you are probably good at crafting marketing messages and conveying them through social media and email. But if you’re not, or would like a refresher, please check out our marketing and other small business resources via the link below.

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CEF’s advisors provide helpful suggestions of an educational nature that are not intended to mandate or supersede the business practices or decisions of your Company, its owners, or managers. The information provided in this guide does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available herein are for general informational purposes only. You should contact your attorney to understand your rights and for legal advice about your specific situation.

This information was created in partnership with  Northern Initiatives and participating entities through Initiate Prosperity. Check out the full library of small business resources on the Initiate Prosperity: Powered by CEF site.

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