The restaurant industry has faced never-before-seen challenges in the wake of the pandemic. Throughout the better part of the past two years, restaurant owners have had to completely change their business models. Ranging from offering only takeout and delivery to closing their doors completely for periods of time, restaurateurs have had to completely rethink how to operate their business.

What challenges are restaurant owners presently facing?

The challenges are many. They only begin with the debt that has been induced by pandemic-based shutdowns. Border closures coupled with farming labour shortages have led to lost crops and supply chain disruptions. Even as pandemic-induced restrictions lifted, many restaurant workers – servers especially – have been hesitant to return to their jobs. Some have taken to retirement while many others have decided to switch career paths.

With the pandemic coercing so many consumers to resort to takeout over dining in, restaurant sales have drastically fluctuated. Drops in consumer demand combined with labour shortages across the supply chain can now be seen in the rising cost of food and a significant jump in restaurant menu prices.

What is the current landscape of menu inflation?

Menu inflation isn’t a new phenomenon. All throughout the course of time, inflation has occurred across all industries. With food, however, there has been a significant uptick over the past two years. Typically, menu prices generally see a 2–3% increase year over year. This was up until 2020.

The 11th edition of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Analytics Lab’s Canada’s Food Price Report forecasts an overall food price increase of 3-5% for 2021. The most significant increases are predicted for meat (4.5- 6.5%), bakery (3.5-5.5%), and vegetables (4.5-6.5%).

How can transparency and technology play a role in bringing customers back?

Transparency from any business is a vital way to secure long-term loyalty from consumers. Restaurants can greatly benefit from being more open with their customers. One approach is to begin sharing where their ingredients come from; especially if the ingredients are sourced locally. Today, digital menus can now be distributed via QR code technology to provide a completely safe and secure way for hungry customers to order and receive the meals of their choice.

Restaurants that partner with online ordering software experts can build their digital menus to include the origin of their ingredients in each menu item. Getting customers more aware of how the food is getting to their table will help them understand that the price they are paying for the menu item not only supports the restaurant, but the entire supply chain. This kind of transparency is going to become expected by consumers moving forward. It is a great idea to begin incorporating this approach as we move into 2022.

How online ordering software can help bring back customers.

The assistance of an online ordering system, complete with QR code technology, provides a win-win situation. Firstly, offering customers the ability to order food online gets them their meals in a safe and convenient way. Delivery and pickup options enable people to avoid contact with others as they continue to navigate through the pandemic. As well, having payments processed securely ensures the continued growth of a restaurant’s bottom line.

Rising food prices don’t have to deter future guests. With the right ordering software, restaurateurs can start to build more direct and open relationships with their consumers to help offset any hesitations about returning for a meal.

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