Can Crowdfunding Save Restaurants?
It’s been nearly a year since America began mass closures to protect people against the COVID-19 pandemic. In that time, small businesses all around the country have contended with difficult and strange new safety precautions. The restaurant industry, in particular, has suffered more than average; from capacity restrictions to outright caps on dine-in services, hospitality has found creative ways to supplement finances in the middle of this disaster.
Often, the first move restaurants make—even fine dining establishments—is to open off-premise ordering streams like delivery, takeout, and curbside services. Still, many restaurateurs find that this isn’t enough to ultimately make up for the revenue traditionally earned from sit-down seating. Sometimes you find that what’s best for business is straightforward transparency: Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. We’re talking about crowdfunding campaigns.
We’re talking about crowdfunding campaigns.
Right for You?
Like any big decision, crowdfunding campaigns have the potential to either hurt or help your company, depending on how they’re implemented and how much effort you put into them.
First of all, what is crowdfunding? It refers to the solicitation of private donations to raise money, either for an individual or a company. Rather than coming up with increasingly complicated and time-consuming ways to save their business, restaurants choose to explain straightforwardly to their customers how and why they’re struggling and directly ask them to help.
Remember that your customers are struggling financially just as much as you are; this pandemic is negatively impacting nearly everyone. Appeal to their sense of community by emphasizing how donations help their friends and neighbors; for example, maybe you need the extra money to make payroll to increase wages after a pandemic-inspired pay cut last year. Perhaps your restaurant is a local spot for families to relax together in the summer, and you should lean on how you bring parents and children together. Helping your restaurant should simultaneously feel like helping their community.
Progress encourages progress. Set a specific goal you’d like to reach, and customers can see your progress over time as well as the actual impact of their donations. Being able to track their involvement like that makes people check back in to see how you’re doing, incentivizes them to give a few more dollars, and keeps you on their minds so they don’t forget about their favorite restaurant in the time before you accept sit-down guests again.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Once you decide that crowdfunding is right for your business, it may take time to find a website that fits your needs. Hosting sites can be an asset or liability depending on your preferences and needs, so consider what they charge in fees, what threshold you need to reach before you can withdraw funds, and whether it’s optimal for your donors to use before making any decisions.
Research might take time but will be worth it. You’re not the only one struggling, so keep your customers’ predicaments in mind and show your appreciation for each and every dollar given. Other ways to be sure you’re setting up your crowdfunding campaign for maximum possible success from the get-go include:
Pushing a “community-first” mindset that situates your business as an essential aspect of the neighborhood.
Creating a landing page for donations through your website.
Mentioning your crowdfunding efforts via social media, email newsletters, and at each of your customer touchpoints. Include a link to the donation page as a call-to-action at the end of these correspondences.
Prominently displaying your brand throughout the donation post, such as having your logo or name on the landing page.
Donations can be a useful tool to support you through hard times, but it’s certainly not the be-all-end-all of marketing or sales. Optimizing a crowdfunding campaign will help you get the most out of this revenue channel so you can refocus your efforts on what matters: Providing delicious food to loyal patrons who want a dining experience that only you can offer. Make sure you’re there to greet them after the pandemic by looking into crowdfunding campaigns today.
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