With so many normal things canceled due to COVID-19, this Independence Day is shaping up to be a sad occasion. Businesses have been re-shutdown and many restaurants are now prohibited from dine-in service, unless outdoors. Even then, they’re forced to spread tables out and function at only 50% capacity. With a holiday like the Fourth of July, normally you’d see businesses offering promotions to keep their establishments packed all weekend, yet currently they’re forced to do the opposite. So, what’s the alternative?
Staying relevant during a pandemic means getting creative in ways that were, until very recently, almost incomprehensible. Many companies decided to use their resources to help people get through the crisis, such as Fanatics announcing that they shifted from jersey production to personal protective equipment, supermarkets in the UK taking steps to feed the nation, hotels announcing rooms for first responders, and AT&T offering free cell service to healthcare workers. Brands are continually thinking up solutions that prioritize community engagement and support over bottom-line benefit.
But it’s not that simple for the service industry. Most restaurants function on thin margins in the first place, with many counting on alcohol sales to make up 30% of their business. But on the 4th of July? You can probably double that number, at least.
This year, you’d be hard pressed to find any normal 4th of July restaurant promotions, like the “America Party” or 2-for-1 drink specials that would lead to a crowded bar. Restaurants have to get creative. And while there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday promotionally, it’s not a bad idea for establishments in the service industry to think outside the box.
PR is a great alternative to promotions, as noted by the aforementioned companies’ efforts to show they care. But when you can’t just give away your product without going belly up, you need to focus on what you can do. You can spotlight members of your staff that are veterans, you can donate your time by volunteering to help families affected by coronavirus, you can even serve your takeout meals with a side of sparklers — anything that tells a story and says something about your business’s values and commitment to community.
People will remember what you’ve done, and they won’t forget when you’re back.