When a global pandemic hits, it takes you out of your comfort zone. Thinking about how to reconfigure or reimagine your workplace and your working patterns can be overwhelming. In addition to just getting your staff back into work, you need to think about how to make a nontraditional workforce...traditional.
Restaurants have had to pivot their business strategies to stay afloat. So if you’re like many in the hospitality business, you’re looking for different ways to make some extra income.
One option is to host virtual cooking classes. These classes not only keep some cash flow, but also help you reach new customers. Here are seven reasons why you should offer virtual cooking classes.
1. It adds a little extra revenue
Your Thursdays through Sundays were always set. Your restaurant was packed and often you were turning down reservation requests. But when a global pandemic forced you to stop serving food inside, you needed to find a new way to make money. Maybe you supplemented your losses with curbside pickup and delivery services, but you can think bigger.
Virtual cooking classes can help you add that additional revenue, without you needing to let customers inside. Although you might not bring in as much as you normally would on a Saturday, it’s a little cushion. Plus, you can also record the classes and use a one-time expense to generate income over and over again.
2. It separates you from the competition
You may not be the only Italian restaurant in town. But, you can be the only Italian restaurant offering this opportunity for your patrons to feel like part of your restaurant family. Even through a virtual connection, your patrons will feel like they know you (or your chef) on a deeper level. Remember: customers develop loyalties to people, not businesses.
3. Connect with patrons outside of your area
In this new way of operating, some restaurants are only surviving thanks to the patrons in the neighborhood that walk by. But in a virtual world, you don’t have to be limited to just your neighborhood. Heck, you could even reach someone internationally. Virtual cooking classes expand your reach and give newbies a taste of your restaurant — even if they’re not there in person. And maybe you’ll be on their list when they finally do visit your city or neighborhood.
4. Increases engagement and social media followings
In an age where YouTubers and influencers changed the way entrepreneurs make money, you need to keep up. Virtual cooking classes provide a gateway for your restaurant to experience exponential social media growth. Have your students post pictures of their dishes or set a time each week where followers can tune in to see what’s cooking. A large social media following can lead to passive forms of income in the future.
5. Builds brand loyalty
Remember those regulars you had on a Friday night? Even when it was slow, they were always there, maybe even requesting the same table. That’s loyalty. It’s what keeps you at the forefront of the customer’s mind. And without even thinking about it, they come back to you over and over again.
The secret to brand loyalty is personalization. Maybe your customers know your chef by name or revel in stories about the chef’s days in culinary school. They feel connected to your restaurant and your story — and that matters.
6. Lower overhead costs than traditional classes
If there’s a silver lining to not meeting in person, it’s this: you don’t have to acquire a space large enough to accommodate a full class. You can work in the space that you already own and are accustomed to. Students will buy their own ingredients and use their own tools and kitchens. There's no need to pay for more space or equipment. Get thrifty!
7. Give your chef an opportunity to see outside of the kitchen
Ask any kitchen connoisseur why they love to cook. Go ahead. They’ll probably say something along the lines of, “I find joy in food, I love to entertain, and I delight in seeing people enjoying my dishes.” In a restaurant, chefs are typically buried so deep in the back that they have no interaction with the patrons. They’re hidden away in the depths of the kitchen, with no connection to the people they're cooking for.
Cooking classes bring the joy of preparing food back to your chef. It’s a way to interact with patrons, to share why they chose to finish the dish with a garlic butter sauce. Get them talking and they’ll never stop — and your customers will love it.
Finding new opportunities
If COVID-19 has left you looking for ways to supplement your restaurant’s income, virtual cooking classes offer a non-traditional but certainly beneficial way to do so.
And if you want a few other ideas of how you can adapt to this new way of working, download New Ways of Working: How the Hourly Workforce is Changing.