Canadian SME sat with Stephanie Wong, Partner Lead, Food, Beverage & Restaurants at Google to discuss how Google business is helping restaurants in connecting with their customers.
Many local restaurants have been greatly impacted due to COVID-19. In your expert opinion, what would you say is the biggest challenge that restaurant owners are facing at the moment?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges for restaurants across Canada. The government-mandated closures have forced restaurants to shut down their in-restaurant dining experiences, so these businesses have had to pivot drastically to find ways to still connect with their customers.
At Google, we work with a lot of restaurants across Canada and while each situation varies, the number one challenge all restaurants are facing is how to best keep their customers informed about their evolving business operations.
When we look at Google search data, there are two things Canadians care about the most. The first is how they can still order from restaurants, with searches for “Takeout” skyrocketing +180% comparing April to January 2020, and the second is around health and safety. Search interest for “Is Takeout safe during coronavirus” is up 100% and a top rising search term this week, compared to last week.
It is imperative that restaurants are connecting with their customers to let them know how they are addressing these two areas that are clearly top of mind.
What are some of the initiatives that Google has put in place to help local restaurants?
As a way to help restaurants communicate how they’re shifting their business operations in the midst of COVID-19, we’re rolling out new updates to our Google My Business platform that specifically speak to the top concerns of Canadians at this time.
Restaurants can now easily update how they have pivoted their operations, including the ways customers can order from them (ex. takeout, delivery, or curbside pickup). By updating their Google My Business profile using these new features, this updated information will show on Google Search, and Google Maps, the place where most Canadians turn to first to get information about their favourite local restaurants.
We’ve also introduced COVID-19 posts where merchants can proactively inform their customers about how their operations and services have shifted. Updates can include safety precautions they’re taking, information about takeout or delivery options, changing menu offerings and hours of operations, and whether customers can expect delays.
What approach has Google taken to help restaurant owners during these challenging times?
The new features we are rolling out on Google My Business will help restaurants specifically address the top concerns of their customers.
There’s also our Google Small Business hub with tools and resources to help small businesses.
We’ve also launched free digital workshops for Canadian small businesses and our teams are continuing to think through more ways to help as the pandemic evolves and customer needs change. Canadians can find these workshops at https://events.withgoogle.com/growonair/#content.
What would you say is the biggest benefit that Google My Business has on local restaurants?
We know that Google Search and Google Maps are often the first place Canadians look when they are hungry and interested in ordering from a restaurant. Google My Business is the free platform that restaurants can use to update their information so that it shows up accurately across Google Search and Google Maps.
This is why these Google My Business updates are so important so that restaurants can let people know how they are still open for business at this time and how they’re keeping them safe.
What can consumers do during this time to help local restaurants stay in business?
Order from your favourite local restaurant for your next meal! Many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options – positive community support can go a long way during this difficult time.
On a final note, what advice can you give to restaurant owners that can help them during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many restaurants to pivot their operations quickly, whether that is offering different ways of dining (takeout and delivery), changing their hours of operations or taking extra health and safety precautions to keep their customers safe. It is imperative for restaurant owners to proactively communicate these changes to make it as easy as possible for customers to stay informed. At the moment, Canadians cannot interact with restaurants in person like they used to, so using digital channels is a key way to keep lines of communication open.
If you’re looking for information on updating your Google My Business profile, or other questions, our Small Business Hub is free and offers step by step instructions for restaurants to let customers know how to reach them.
“Since launching Google My Business, we’ve helped more than 150 million local businesses globally connect with people who are looking for them online. The pandemic presents unique challenges to the restaurant industry and while the path forward is not yet clear, we’re committed to supporting our local communities.” – Stephanie Wong, Partner Lead, Food, Beverage & Restaurants at Google