Manchester, the city which gave the world suffragette leader, Emmelie Pankhurst and code breaker, Alan Turing,  is no stranger to facing adversity with a philosophical smile and, this has been very much the case as parts of Greater Manchester begin a new local lockdown.  

Although Manchester’s Mayor, Andy Burnham, has criticised the Government over the difficult position that the city-region has been placed in, he has nonetheless urged residents to adhere to the new guidelines.  In fact, when restrictions were lifted in Manchester at the end of August, before another dramatic U-turn, the Mayor urged the people of Greater Manchester to continue to follow the stricter rules. 

While Manchester is certainly not alone in facing new restrictions, the Mayor’s frustration has been palpable when it comes to the Government refusing to trust local leaders to make decisions concerning their constituencies.  The new restrictions are now in place for a number of areas including Salford, Bury, The City of Manchester, Bolton and Oldham and, centre largely on not mixing with different households and the closure of hospitality venues between 10pm and 5am (as is now the case for the whole of the UK).  In Salford, however, the new rules forbid mixing with anybody outside of your household in a public place, for example, a pub or restaurant. 

New rules take the biscuit

While many office employees in Manchester are still working from home, allowing some businesses to carry on regardless, the tightening of restrictions has been yet another blow to Manchester’s restaurants and pubs.  After a reasonably successful August, thanks to the ‘Rishi’s Dishes’, Manchester’s food outlets and bars (including hotel bars) will now need to ensure that they’re ready to close their doors by 10pm; meaning that some will miss out on up to two hours’ trade. 

With the constant yo-yo’ing of restrictions and, the difficulties in maintaining distancing, some restaurant owners in Manchester have chosen to close their seating areas in order to focus on takeaways which will still be permitted after the 10pm curfew for public spaces.  During the original UK wide lockdown, a lot of restaurants turned to food deliveries in order to survive and have discovered that, post-lockdown, the demand for takeaways delivered to the door is very much alive and kicking.  

Making the switch

In days gone by, pivoting a sit down restaurant to one which provided deliveries was an expensive and risky business, however, thanks to the world wide web, this is no longer the case.  Over the last few years, dark kitchens have been lighting a spark under the food industry – something which, of course, was highlighted in neon this year with even burger giant, McDonalds, getting in on the game.  Despite the popularity of these kitchens – and the stealthy rise of delivery companies such as Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats – some restaurateurs still weren’t convinced due to the expense and lack of control offered by these outlets.  Thankfully, necessity breeds invention and, now, a new breed of platforms, including UpMenu, are offering restaurants the ability to provide food deliveries through their own, self-controlled, sites.  With Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, warning that the UKs new restrictions may be in place for another six months, we can expect to see more and more restaurants turning to deliveries. 

So, how do you get started?

Online food ordering platforms like UpMenu make it super simple for restaurants to pivot their businesses as they offer not just flexibility on the processing of orders but, also, lots of handy features including mobile apps and marketing tools.  My advice for any restaurant owner looking to take the plunge would be: 

Research your audience to ensure that your customers will be on board with the new delivery service. Tools like Brand24 might help you to track online mention around your specific keywords. 

Prep your packaging – you’ll need to make sure that you source the right packaging to make sure that food is kept hot and fresh on delivery.

Do your sums – you’ll need to figure out whether you’re going to re-price your food to take transport into account or, charge extra for this in the name of full disclosure.

Marketing – if you’re switching to delivery, you’ll need to let people know.  Invest in advertising, marketing and a killer landing page to help you get your message across.  Needless to say, you’ll also want to tap into the power of local area Facebook groups in order to engage with your audience.  In my experience, offering a discount or incentive such as a free drink will almost guarantee a great start to your food delivery endeavour. 

With no end in sight at the moment regarding local and national restrictions, businesses are once again fighting to survive.  Although, sadly, some will fail, Manchester folk are a hardy bunch and, I’m sure that many still have a few tricks left up their sleeves – and I, personally, can’t wait to find out what they are!



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