How Communities are Supporting the Service Industry During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Many people have pointed out how the unprecedented global pandemic of Coronavirus has brought out the best in humanity.
Mr. Rogers told us all that in times of crisis, we should look for helpers, and nowhere is that more true than in the industry built on service and hospitality. Unfortunately, these are frightening times for restaurant workers, as they see their jobs on shaky ground. Communities in the Midwest are rallying around the service industry to show them the same support they’ve shown customers throughout the years.
The service industry is a huge source of entertainment, comfort, and community around the world. This idea particularly holds true in the Midwestern United States, where states like Wisconsin and Indiana are known for their incredible foods and thirst-quenching beverages.
The food service industry is also a significant area of employment throughout the Midwest, accounting for 9% of jobs in Wisconsin and 10% in Indiana (according to statistics from the National Restaurant Association). These numbers reflect the huge impact Coronavirus could have on employment throughout the region.
For both these reasons, communities hold a massive stake in the well being of the service industry. As the outbreak of Coronavirus impacts so many lives and livelihoods, communities are rallying around the industry to show support. As restaurant-owners and workers, these examples can offer ideas you can apply to your own establishment right away as you get through this challenge.
Here are the many fantastic ways communities are supporting the service industry during this tough time.
1. Providing Resources and Advocacy
Restaurant owners are often insanely busy, focusing on all it takes to run a busy restaurant. The outbreak of Coronavirus is new to us all, so it’s no wonder restaurateurs may not feel adequately prepared to take on legislative lobbying, legal work, and grant request writing.
Fortunately, there are many support groups available. The National Restaurant Association, the Tavern Lobby, and other interest groups serving the food and beverage industry are working with legislators—both federal and local—to ensure stimulus packages such as the CARES Act meets the needs of restaurants.
Other, small support groups are popping up in many communities, writing letters to government officials, making calls, creating petitions, and providing resources and information to restaurants in need.
2. Supporting Curbside Pickup
Many communities are supporting restaurants and service industry workers at the grassroots level as well. Curbside “no contact” pickup has become the norm over the past few weeks, keeping many restaurants afloat.
Restaurant owners who never considered implementing a “to-go” option before are jumping to their feet and getting creative as they continue to get food in the hands (and stomachs) of their eager clientele. In Wisconsin, state orders are in process to help restaurants continue to deliver food and offer to-go options as they navigate the appropriate insurance coverage. Many customers love the eat-at-home options as they stay safe and socially distant but still enjoy great food. (Extra tips are highly encouraged!)
3. Buying Today to Eat for Tomorrow
Following the recommendation to get creative in their support, many communities are buying gift cards to help their local restaurants now by using them for dining-in later.
A group of Wisconsin businesses joined together to sell $25 “restaurant bonds.” These bonds work like gift cards but increase in trade-in value as they age. In June, the bonds are worth $30, $35 in July, and top out at $40 in August. To join the program, restaurants had to pledge to stand behind their workers in a meaningful way, whether it’s with health insurance, paid time off, or advocacy.
Even for patrons who don’t feel like dining out right now, gift cards and gift certificates are an excellent option for the future and help to put funds in the pockets of restaurant workers now. Supporting restaurants by buying branded merchandise like tees, mugs, or bumper stickers can also help show your support. One Indiana restaurant group even made unique shirts to support laid-off workers during this time.
4. Supporting the Service Industry and First Responders
Several Midwestern communities are doing double duty in their support of both the restaurant industry and those working to fight COVID-19 on the front lines. Encouraging and funding food deliveries to hospitals, paramedics, and firefighters is one way that community members are supporting essential workers during their time of need and the support goes both ways.
The service Kosher-19 is raising funds to deliver kosher meals to Jewish medical staff in Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. A police department in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin is sharing news of their “Takeout Tuesdays” where they support a different local restaurant each week.
Some restaurants are also offering discounts, free delivery, and even free meals to first responders to reinforce the idea we’re all in this together. Indianapolis restaurant groups donated and delivered lunches to IU Health nurses and first responders to show their support for the lifesaving work of medical professionals.
5. Offering Media Coverage and Publicity
It may seem like the news coverage is all bad right now. Still, it’s worth mentioning that many news outlets are working hard to provide resources for readers, including updates on the latest changes and options for restaurant delivery. Much of the COVID-19 coverage is offered to readers for free as a community service.
Local publications and smaller news outlets are also ramping up their news coverage by posting and sharing information on social media and in their digital magazines. This information helps patrons know which restaurants are open for delivery or offering curbside pickup.
Restaurant critics and reviewers are adding to the positive energy with resources and op-eds that support the industry. It’s absolutely critical right now that everyone gets the word out that the restaurant industry needs support and advocacy. News and media outlets are doing their part to spread the message.
6. Sharing Info on Social Media
Professional media outlets aren’t the only ones sharing information. Many customers are sharing photos of their take-out and pick-up meals on social media. While this may seem like a small act, influencers are so crucial to creating grassroots support.
Does your restaurant have a presence on social media? During this time, sharing with the community is vital. If you create accounts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you will help your patrons “tag” you to show their support.
To connect with potential customers, virtually, restaurants may need to get creative. Share recipes or cooking tips in your social media stories, announce menu adjustments to include to-go friendly foods, and encourage patrons to snap and share with a unique hashtag for your restaurant and tags for your city food groups.
7. Coming Up with Unique Ways to Rally Around the Service Industry
The restaurant industry has always been known for its quirky personalities and creative approaches to problems. Restaurant workers and owners are taking their approach to Coronavirus to a whole new level.
Indiana restaurant owner Jake Burgess decided to jump on the most famous pop-culture reference of the moment and get a “Tiger King” inspired haircut. The Netflix documentary has taken off as residents shelter-in-place, and Jake decided live streaming the Joe Exotic cut was a great way to raise money to support his laid-off workers. His stream raised over $3000 in one evening and says he might get an eyebrow piercing next.
Restaurant owners who aren’t quite ready to alter their appearance can still take creative inspiration from this effort. The Madison, Wisconsin community created a “virtual tip jar,” where community members can use PayPal and Venmo to tip laid off restaurant workers. Community members WANT to support their local restaurants. Offering a variety of options and approaches will help us get through this dark time (and may even help patrons smile).
The hospitality industry has always been known for its service, food, and community engagement. People come together around food. Even during this scary global pandemic, we can still use food as a way to build human connections. Remember, we’re all in this together, and together we’ll make it through!
Reliable Water Services is Here for You
Hot water is critical to health, sanitation, and safety in general, but it’s especially vital to the industries we serve—and the majority of those industries are considered essential businesses. As our customers remain operational during these unprecedented times, so does Reliable Water Services.
Making sure our customers have hot water has always been our main priority, and now more than ever, we are here for you. We will continue to provide 24/7 water heater services to our customers, ensuring you have the hot water your business relies on. Our office team is practicing social distancing by working remotely, while our service technicians and installing contractors are following extra safety guidelines to ensure they can service your building safely without putting themselves or your staff members at risk.
Our team at RWS has always viewed the relationship with each of our customers as a partnership. Through this partnership, we will work together and get through these unique and challenging times. As always, should you need service contact us 24/7 at 1-800-356-1444. Stay safe, and be well!