Restaurants still Struggle 2 years later...

Even though it’s been two years since the start of the pandemic, many businesses are still being affected. One of the prominent industries still struggling is the restaurant industry. The first year of the pandemic, it was all about adapting. The second year has been all about winning back both customers and employees.

Despite the original government aid given, it was simply not enough. According to the Wallstreet Journal,

“Restaurants and bars are pushing for more federal help, telling members of Congress their challenges are getting worse as the omicron variant spreads. More than 3,300 restaurant operators signed a letter to lawmakers in December saying their businesses are being squeezed by higher costs and growing debt, and they may be forced to close if the federal government doesn't approve another round of aid. A $29 billion fund Congress created last year for struggling restaurants was tapped out in a matter of weeks.”

Most of that aid was used to keep these restaurants and pubs open, just barely functioning. Now the owners are struggling to maintain their workers. Many popular chains, such as Chiptole and Taco Bell are offering perks like free college tuition or paid family leave. Those bars and restaurants that could offer better perks and benefits saw a 13.4% increase in sales because they were able to retain and hire workers they lost in the initial year of the pandemic.

But even though there was an increase in sales, restaurant owners have admitted that diners are affected by this storage of funding and workers. Owners had to pass along some of the wage increases to the customers in the form of high prices.

In addition, to keep the customers happy and coming in, many restaurants and pubs tried to accommodate their guests in other ways. Some include, offering delivery services, curbside pick up, sanitizing stations and free PPE like masks, even building amazing outdoor dining options like tents, bubbles, and even little houses that could be heated in the cold months. Some of these structures, even a simple one, could run up to $25,000 in some cities like New York or Los Angeles.

Even though people - both business owners and the government - are ever adapting and offering resources, ideas, and some aid. No one can really provide solutions or long term solutions. Especially to the smaller restaurants.

Can the small local taco shop really compete with Taco Bell who is offering free college tuition and a big sign on bonus?

The answer is no.

However there is one solution that no one is talking about. And that solution is a modern Barter Exchange like IMS.

There are three major problems listed in this article:

  1. How to get funding to keep your day to day business floating.
  2. How to compete with benefits to retain and attract workers.
  3. How to get new customers and keep the regulars coming back at a fair price.

First, IMS saves you cash because it is an alternative payment system using Trade Dollars. This allows you to use vital cash on a service or product that you wouldn’t be able to get using trade. Now what can you get using trade? The better question would be what CAN’T you get using your trade money. You can use your trade to print new menus, repair your parking lot, upgrade your credit card processors and even your POS systems. But you can use it for cleaning services (including grease trap and hood clean and air duct cleaning), you could get a new air purification system installed or upgrade your heating and HVAC system. You could even build fancy little structures and buy outdoor heating lamps to keep your customers warm in the winter as you advertise (yes you can use your trade to purchase advertising opportunities) an amazing winter dining experience. Otherwise, consider lawn care services like new landscaping or mosquito spraying. The list is endless.

Second, you can use that same trade money to supplement your current benefits package or upgrade it entirely. You still might not be able to offer free tuition, but you’d be able to offer them better health care, better dental care, better vision care. But it doesn’t stop there, you could even offer them services like financial counseling, child care, and home improvement contractors.

Lastly, if you start using your trade to fix the first and second problems, you will be able to avoid what other restaurants have had to do - raise their prices - because you’ll be saving that much cash. Even then, you can reinvest that trade into better advertising to bring in new cash customers in and fellow IMS members back. You could put that trade money to work by creating a one of a kind dining experience in your area.

If your restaurant is struggling, call IMS today so we can pair you with your own personal Trade Broker. They will learn about your business and help you create a plan to thrive.

Don’t let this be the third year without long term solutions.

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