Ramadan is a month of sharing, of self-reflecting, and understanding the conditions of the less fortunate. Traditionally, a time of coming together as a family to break the fast by sharing a festive meal, or inviting the less fortunate to join in these holy celebrations.
Last year, Coronavirus was fairly new when the holy month began on April 24th. Countries did everything they could to protect their citizens while respecting the culture. These precautions affected many aspects of Ramadan. However, the essence remained the same. Families came together digitally through Zoom. People found ways to share food through online food delivery systems. Even the donation of alms and zakats were made electronically since donation tents were prohibited. The Muslim community was still able to go through the whole month of Ramadan with strength. This year, a similar Ramadan awaits us, as the virus threat continues.
During Ramadan the two most important activities that determine the flow of the day are Iftar and Suhoor, resulting in a change in your restaurant’s peak hours. Be prepared to see a decrease in your lunch orders; you are not doing anything wrong - unless you are ignoring the opportunities hidden in plain sight.
Ramadan also tends to be the month where people spend more money on food and groceries than any other month of the year. Those who fast are likely to opt for home-cooked meals, at least in the beginning.
Make the most of these changing situations and serve all your customers to the best of your restaurant’s abilities. As most restaurants will be closed during the day, online food delivery will remain an important channel for restaurants.
Follow these steps to get your restaurant ready for Ramadan & Eid Al Fitr. With everything being digital, we are better equipped than ever to track the customer behavior of certain target groups during specific times. You will know your customers and their needs the best.
Keep in mind that your Muslim customers who fast will have their first meal when the sun sets and their last meal before the sun rises. Adjust your timing to suit customers’ needs. Consider adding a midnight slot to your operation hours for possible cravings. Offer a hot breakfast just before Suhoor.
Seasonal Ramadan food is one of the many reasons Muslims love Ramadan. Consider adding one of the popular Ramadan dishes to your menu such as Harees, Machboos, Katayef, or Aishu Laham.
Some foods, on the other hand, might not be suitable for this season since they might make people thirsty afterwards. Salty foods is one example. Pay attention to the dishes you offer during this time and tweak your menu if you need to.
When you plan ahead for possible changes during the month of Ramadan, you will have plenty of opportunities to save time and money. The trick is being prepared for anything.
You will most likely experience an increase in online orders towards Iftar. Seize the slow hours for preparations that will help you during the busier hours. For example, batch prepare your signature sauces. Have your containers ready to be packed. If there are any dishes on your menu that require a few steps, start the process. Needless to say, this is only applicable if it will not affect the freshness of your dishes. Serving fresh and delicious meals is still - and always will be - your priority.
There might also be changes with your suppliers’ programs. Ask your suppliers if they are going to change their working hours or supply for the month. You might need to order some ingredients in bulk or remove some items from your menu. If you decide to change your menu, make sure your inventory matches your goals for a successful operation.
The time in between Iftar & Suhoor is valuable as your customers might have cooked at home and may be looking for a special treat at midnight where they can eat and drink as they please. You may take this opportunity to introduce a special midnight offer. Some customers may prefer desserts while others prefer something more filling to last them through the next day. Make sure to experiment with different menu options here.
Since your customers’ behavior changes during the month of Ramadan, so should your promotions and campaigns. Research shows that advertising spending goes up by 20% during or just before Ramadan.
Try to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and create offers that will appeal to them. Matching your advertising investment and strategy to your audience’s activity and aligning your campaign duration with their behavioral pattern would create incredible results.
Make sure to begin communicating these well before Ramadan. This will allow your campaign to reach a wider audience in time.
Ramadan is a time to enjoy dinners together as a family, even if it’s not a daily habit. So during this month, offer family packs for gatherings. Families could enjoy a hearty dinner and maybe even have leftovers for Suhoor. A delicious meal that will save families from cooking early in the morning is bound to gain you a place in your customers’ hearts.
Similar to what we suggested earlier, Iftar & Suhoor bundles go together like water and date fruit. People who order Iftar food are most likely fasting. And with Suhoor counting down from around 4:30 AM, the fewer preparation people have to do in the morning, the better.
Offer your meals as bundles and delight your customers.
People always respond well to kindness and generosity.
Send your customers free dessert with their order. Add a note wishing them well during their day. Include a voucher for their next order.
This will go a long way as they are considering what to order next time…
Speaking of thinking about what to order next time… how about you do the thinking for them?
Ask your customers if they would be interested in a monthly delivery package where you change the menu and send it to them every Iftar and/or Suhoor. Many people would appreciate not having to think about food as they get through the day. And the anticipation of an ever-changing menu could be an additional thrill for them.
As you plan your promotions and campaigns make sure to pay attention to the keywords your customers use in their searches. For example, some phrases to be expected would be “best iftar menu”, “best suhoor food – to keep you energized all day”, “family iftar menu”, etc.
If you have an app that your customers are using, use push messages and notifications to announce your offers and grab their attention.
Keeping Ramadan’s true essence of giving in mind is crucial. Creating packages for your customers to donate as charity could be a way for you to help customers give back to the community.
Now that Ramadan is over, Eid Al Fitr is all about celebrations!
Think of festive food, desserts, large portions, delicious sides… Offer them in bundles and help celebrate with your customers.
And after Eid Al Fitr is over, remember to return to your regular menu and your usual operating hours.
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