The following is a transcription of Targetable’s webinar on using local advertising tools to stay in touch with loyal customers and build awareness of new, crisis-adjusted delivery, curbside pickup and other services. Watch a replay of the full webinar here or read the transcript below.
Michael Moran: Welcome everyone. This is a Targetable webinar focusing on business continuity for restaurants and other small businesses during these difficult times. I'm Michael Moran, the CEO of a risk and consulting strategy firm called Transformative. I'm pleased to have with me today Vlad Edelman, a longtime friend and a digital pioneer whose company, Targetable, is focused on the restaurant and small business marketing sector.
Vlad Edelman: Hey, how are you?
MM: I thought we'd start with just a little bit of the top level of who we are and what we do. Do you want to give a little background on yourself, Vlad?
VE: Good to talk again. It's unfortunate that we're talking in such a challenging environment for a lot of businesses. As I've been reading this morning and all throughout the week, a lot of folks with a lot of really good businesses I’m connected to and the broader things that are happening are really having a hard time. I was ordering dinner last night from one of my favorite restaurants not too far from where I live, and I wound up striking up a conversation with the owner. It's unbelievable, the different business model changes that he has had to contemplate, the difficulty of figuring out how to find his customers again and how to run his business. I'm glad we've got a chance to walk people through some ideas.
My personal background is I grew up in the media and marketing business. I think you and I met almost two decades ago at MSNBC, where we were both journalists and producers. I moved on after that to do some stuff for CBS and build a mobile business for ESPN. Then, I started and launched and eventually sold a couple of ad agencies. One turned to Public Group and one for WPP. But the last decade of my life has really been dedicated to restaurant technology and in retail technology and figuring out how to help retailers and restaurant tours. Both independents and large chains had to market their restaurants in the best way possible and using the most powerful tools that there are, which are local digital campaigns that really take advantage of platforms like Facebook and Instagram and Google and so forth.
So we'll talk more a little bit more about Targetable at the end. I really want to focus more on kind of what restaurants can do today to help themselves. Targetable is really focused on the automation of the agency and the virtualization of what agencies do, taking what used to cost tens of thousands of dollars is now a couple of hundred bucks through us. We're a platform that creates and publishes and manages advertising on Facebook and Instagram and Google for customers like restauranteur. So we'll come back to that later. But it's good to be here, Mike, and let's get into it.
MM: OK. Just real quick about me: As Vlad mentioned, I was a journalist back in the day. I've been in financial services and then risk consulting, run my own firm out of Denver on that count. Vlad and I both experienced a number of these kind of disruptions in our lives. We were both in the New York area when 9/11 happened. We were both very much involved in entrepreneurial pursuits during the 2008 downturn. So there is some precedent for the knowledge you're about to hear. So let's jump right into it. Here are the key points here that we will try to make here during this webinar. Vlad, would you take us through them and give us a little color?
VE: Sure. One thing that is important to remember, Mike, and you know, it just occurred to me when you mentioned 9/11 and when we were both in New York and I remember actually watching the towers fall, which was unbelievable. The big difference between then and now and I've seen this comparison being made a number of times, is that after 9/11 we were told as citizens and as consumers and as patriots to go out and to shop and to spend money and to not let the events of 9/11 stop us from enjoying life and from putting money back into the economy and putting money back into local businesses.
Well, the real challenge with the current situation is that's not what the government is saying. Even though what the government is saying is changing day to day, they are not telling us to go out and shop. They are not telling us to go to restaurants and to support our local businesses. They're telling us to stay home. And they're telling us to shelter. They're asking us to socially distance ourselves. And so there is a very big philosophical fundamental difference between those situations then. And in many ways, it makes the current scenario much, much tougher for a lot of the folks who have to live with the ramifications of what's happened.
That said, one of the one of the key points, having lived through a couple of these kinds of cycles is right now we're really living through some of the worst of the impact of all of the emergency declarations, of all of the cancelations, of all of the state and local, municipal and federal government actions that have been taken. And so it really feels cataclysmic right now. A lot of restaurants are completely shuttered. A lot of retail has closed. I know that driving around and walking around even for emergency errands, it's really quite surreal outside. But it's important to remember that it will end. Eventually we will figure this out and life will return back to normal. While that may be hard to remember day to day, as you're kind of battling staying in business and battling keeping staff employed and everything else, it's important to remember that when this ends, you really want to be there. So the key right now is to really do everything you can to ensure that when things do return to normal (and they will return to normal, whatever that normal is, we'll return to it), that you're there to meet it.
You'll see later, that some of the advice that we share is this can't be business as usual in terms of running your business day to day in a way that assumes as if nothing happened, and you're just trying to wait it out, ride it out. It really means aggressively taking action, aggressively trimming costs, aggressively revising your menu and doing the things that need to be done in order to survive this. Because just riding it out and hoping things blow over and hoping that you can kind of limp it from day to day and get to the end — boy, that is a real lottery shot, Mike. I think that's not a risk worth taking. Risks that I do think are worth taking are those that allow you to experiment more with your business as you'll see, we’ll give you a couple of examples of things to try. But as you know, the entire environment has changed. Consumer perception of how restaurants function and what their expectations are have changed. So there is some room right now to try some things that perhaps were too risky even a week ago or too difficult to try just a week ago that today could provide incredibly valuable and important information about your business, your consumer, your demographic, your locations to you and could be super valuable down the road as things normalize. So that's kind of our broader points, Mike, which is that this will end. But in the meantime, do everything you can to make sure that you make it to the end of this thing and that you exit this, as we're saying here, resilient, smarter about your business and better prepared for the next time this kind of calamity happens.
MM: Well, there's a lot of more practical tactical stuff we can talk about. One of the things you mentioned there was the idea of taking risk. As a risk advisor, a lot of people tend to think that risk advisors want to tell you not to take risk. That's not at all what we do. We help you measure them, the ones that are worth taking. It can also be the things that take you through tough periods and make you successful in other times. I mean, a good example of that right now is obviously the ability to deliver and to offer pickup is on top of everybody's mind. If that requires an upfront investment, you don't want to be doing it in two months, you want to be doing it now because the ultimate reality is we don't know how long this will last. If you do it now, and it turns out it was unneeded, then you come out of this more resilient, with more capabilities and you're your business snaps back. If this does drag on, you'll be happy you did it now. So without proselytizing further, let's take a look at these three bullet points: Menu Changes. What are we advising there?
VE: Well, we'll get into each one of these in their own section here. So just as a broader coverage of what we're going to talk about, we're going to talk about these three areas. There's a lot more that we can talk about, we just don't have the time or the expertise. I'm sure there are other companies and I've seen a lot of other folks already doing webinars about financial implications and tax loopholes and new regulations and all those things. That's coming, and those things are also important. But we're going to focus on things that are, to your point just now, tactical, simple things that can be done right now and things that are really related to our expertise, which is really restaurants. We'll talk a little bit about the menu, and we’ll talk a little bit about what is the expectation on the customer side today, and what are they expecting from you? The restaurant tour, and the neighborhood restaurant. How can you really stay on top of mind with your consumers as you're changing your operating model, as you're experimenting with new services? How does that all reflect in your local digital marketing and how do you make sure people know and are consistently aware that you're there and you're still in business and you still want their business? So let's get on to the next slide here, and I think we'll dig in with many changes.
The move towards takeout delivery and curbside is something that has been in the news a lot. This is something that is happening all over the place right now, too. Every consumer has now seen their local restaurant or bar or establishment essentially start to transition to a completely new model, diving in head first, often into a business model that they're not as familiar with as they could be. A lot of the focus when you're doing this is on the logistics. Where are people picking up food from you? How are you doing delivery? What service are you using? How are you setting up inside the kitchen to produce now? One of the items that often gets ignored but is financially hugely impactful, Mike, is your menu.
So I got a I got a Facebook ad last night from a local restaurant here that was kind of Polynesian barbecue. It's very popular. It's right in the center of the town that I live in. It’s usually absolutely swamped with people and with an inside, outside area and eating and enjoying themselves. One of the things that I noticed is they did something really smart, which is they didn't just send me their entire menu. They did what hotels do for late night and room dining. They did what catering does. They simplified their menu down to four or five, really simple financially advantageous items. And they quickly started to reduce their food costs and their obligations on the provider side to make sure that they weren't trying to support the same level of diversity on the same level of service that the restaurant had just a week before without the comparable revenue stream and customer base to support that. When you start to focus on takeout and delivery or curbside pickup and that becomes your driving model, then your menu has to align to how those businesses work. It has to be fast. It has to be fresh when it gets to the consumer. It has to be easy to transport. It has to be something that doesn't change substantially flavor profile wise on the way to the consumer — think already-dressed salads and things like that. So it's really important to get in front of this because if you start to try to support all of these different modes of engaging with the customer while still servicing your entire menu or while trying to deliver and work with items that are simply not built for that, you're going to make an already difficult transition, much more difficult. So simplifying is one critical piece.
I talked a little bit about reducing costs. The one thing I want to talk about a little with reducing costs is do this early. I think what I'm seeing and hearing from a lot of our customers and friends in the business is people are kind of dragging their feet and waiting to see what will happen. You know, maybe everything will reopen tomorrow. Maybe I don't have to make some of these more difficult decisions. Well, the problem is you have to because the reality is that this isn't going to be overnight, even though it'll be over. It will take at least a couple of days, a couple of weeks, if not a couple of months. And so make these changes and make them aggressively and early on in the process, because you'll only be stronger and better prepared even if things go completely back to normal in an unrealistically short time. So this is something that is very relevant to reducing costs because what you want to do is make sure that you reduce them early so that you can really get the full benefit of that.
The last piece here is really talking about resilience. I think it's really tied quite directly into the redoing of the menu. Part of that idea is to focus on items that have a long shelf life, things that are common. Don't make your life more complicated than it needs to be when you're already dealing with so many other pieces here that that are complex in operationalizing completely new modes. So that's really the advice that we have on the menu side: simplify it, reduce those costs and make sure that there’s resilience to the menu itself and the items you're selling.
MM: You know, one of the things that everybody brings to the table here is an existing customer base. Obviously they're not going to be coming and sitting in your dining room at this moment, but they still exist. They still know you're there. They have a history and a relationship with your business. I'm going to go to the next slide where we talk a little bit about keeping that relationship alive and sustaining it and letting people know you're there.
VE: That's exactly right. Consumers right now are your restaurant consumers, but they're also consumers of a lot of other services and retailers and different businesses. The real challenge right now is that your customer is being inundated with information. They're being inundated by the news. They're being inundated by new operating models like we're talking about. I have to say, I don't know about you, Mike, but I've gotten maybe three dozen, four dozen, five dozen different emails in my inbox from various companies telling me what they're doing and how they're operating in a new way and how they're dealing with this crisis. And while some sectors are unexpectedly booming, like online gaming and anything that people do when they're sitting around their house trapped with their kids and their pets for hours, that is a very challenging environment in which to communicate something as important and as critical to the survival of your business as your new way that you're going to be working with customers.
So the first piece of advice here is really simple, which is tell the customer in simple, plain language what the changes are that are happening to your business, how you're going to be serving them moving forward. Don't complicate it. It's better, in our opinion, to send multiple emails with updates around specific items like your new hours of operation, your new menu, the new delivery services you're working with, the way that your curbside will work as opposed to sending one long email with lots of detail that they're very unlikely to pop open and read and even less likely to absorb and really think about it. That's a really key piece here, which is keep them updated as your business changes, make sure that they're aware of those changes. In terms of then email itself and how to talk to people during this crisis, we really recommend giving them a sense that things are still, to a certain degree, normal. If you're sending panicked, chaotic notes and if you’re obviously and hugely anxious in your emails and it sounds like you're about to shut your doors and go out of business the next day, customers don't come in. You're going to panic your customers. You're not going to instill in them a desire to go and order food from you or continuously try to keep you or help you stay in business by doing business with you. You're going to panic them and you're going to distract them into thinking, oh my gosh, you know, the world is ending, everything’s going out of business. What you really want to do is you want to tell them it's OK, we're still here. We're still making our delicious dishes. We're still the same restaurant we were when you were last dining in here. We're just getting the food to you instead. We're letting you pick it up instead and eat it in the comfort of your own home. It's important to protect that level of normalcy so that the communication is actually absorbed by the customer, and their first reaction to it is not to shut down and to start thinking about other things.
The other piece that we've seen some success with and customers really love is a small acknowledgement of the fact that we are all stressed out right now and we are all of us having more bad days than maybe we did before this crisis started. Instead of a long email about how panicked you are or constant reminders that things are really challenging drop a small note in the delivery bag just saying, “Hey, thanks for thinking of us during this time and thanks for ordering. We're here when you’re ready to order again.” Small things go a long way in this kind of environment. When people are being inundated with form, written letters and long notes from CEOs of every company under the sun telling them about how the crisis is impacting their company, it’s nice when in this kind of situation the customer feels like you're thinking more about them than about how it's impacting you. It's also impacting your customers, no matter how many challenges you're having today and how worried you are, don't forget that. Don't forget that your customer is also being impacted. They may also be furloughed or at home or nervous about their jobs or bored or dealing with kids that are not in school anymore. That kind of empathy goes a very long way, not just during this kind of environment, but afterwards. People remember that. People remember empathy.
MM: There's an anecdote from 9/11 on that one; that was a moment when people, particularly in the cities, that were attacked and were really shaken. One of the things that I remember so clearly was I had to get on the plane at the first day that they actually lifted the airline restrictions. I got on a plane to go to London enroute to Afghanistan to cover that war for NBC. I was walking on the sidewalk in New York and somebody had drawn in colorful chalk "everything's gonna be all right” with a big sun. It's amazing what that did. It was just a moment that stuck with me for weeks.
VE: How incredible.
MM: I think we need that today. This is a this is a new, completely different type of situation. But everybody needs a little virtual hug.
VE: I couldn't agree more, and I think it's interesting again with this comparison to 9/11 and like I said earlier, I think we're hearing this a lot, but I don't think we've ever been challenged to this level in this kind of a unique way where we're really dealing with an enemy that doesn't exist in the way that we're used to. This is a virus. This is not a terrorist or a foreign country that that means to do us harm. This is something that is much more difficult to combat the typical way. I think a lot of us are trying to figure out what that new normal is and how to react, what to feel. Should we be angry or should we be frustrated? Is it OK to be anxious? What is the what is that reaction that is appropriate for a situation like this? And you're right. Seeing those kinds of reassurances and knowing that other people are feeling what you're feeling is really important.
The other piece here that just occurred to me that I didn't stress this enough is to not forget that this is a virus. The assumption, incorrect assumption as it turns out, with consumers and other folks of how it's transferred and whether it's OK to do everything from shaking hands to cook food with somebody. Restaurants are particularly sensitive to those kinds of concerns. While you're over-communicating and talking to the customer, make sure that they know that you're doing what needs to be done on your end to make sure that their food is safe, that the preparation environment is clean and being sterilized and you are watching out for them as well. Because while people generally always have some concern about cleanliness and the environment, those ABC grades on windows are always fun to kind of figure out why somebody got a grade that they did. But in this particular situation, far more is at stake. So make sure if you're taking measures to protect your employees and your customers in terms of their health and the cleanliness, et cetera, make sure that you're telling them that you're following best practices, that you're doing everything you can to make sure that they're healthy as well.
MM: Well, where the rubber meets the road here for someone who has to pretty much go virtual and look at curbside and take out and delivery is in the digital space. Let's talk for a second about how restaurant owners should be looking at their digital platforms and what might need to change.
VE: So this is a doozy, Mike, because I think that we work with a lot of small businesses and we work with a lot of large franchised concepts and chains, which have a lot more in common than I think most people realize. In many cases, the only difference between an independent restaurant and franchised one is the size of the logo on their door. One of the biggest challenges is really figuring out where are the customers now. We can tell you quite unequivocally that the customers are ordering food online. Of course, this is a challenge for a lot of smaller restaurants and smaller businesses because those services take a substantial chunk of the revenue from those businesses. Now, a lot of them are putting emergency terms into play where the bite or the impact is not nearly as much as it used to be, but a lot of independent restaurants (I know just from personal experience and from talking to our customers) have fairly antagonistic relationships with some of these services. One thing is clear: today, you have to put that aside and you have to be where the customer is and you have to subscribe or sign up or create those relationships with delivery services that get food to customers and most importantly are the default places that customers will think of, where to get menus and where to order food.
If you're not on UberEats and if you're not on DoorDash or any of the other half dozen services, make sure that you are there now because nobody is going to leave those services and find your website and fill out some form and mail it to you so that you can deliver to their house without having to pay fees. That's just not going to happen. And by the way, in context of one of our earlier points about taking risks and really being able to learn some things during this time: one of the best things you can learn is really what service works best for you and who would you probably want to work with after this is over. So with their fees heavily discounted in their business, and relationships redefined for the short term around this crisis, there’s a great opportunity for you without incurring an overwhelming amount of cost or having to manage multiple different services. There's a great opportunity for you to test the ones that you've been thinking of using or the ones that you haven't been thinking of using because you're never going to get a better deal from any of these guys than you are right now as they're trying to scramble and make sure that they can support everybody who is converting into new business models and trying to support these new services.
So test things out, get those relationships set up. And part of that process of getting those relationships in and setting yourself up for success digitally is also making sure that all of the things that you've been putting off, the fact that your website is broken, that your search keywords are not working, that you're online ordering forms don't work the way they're supposed to, your email isn't firing the right way — all of those things need to be fixed. There is no more hallway to kick the ball down. You're at the wall. It's in situations like this that people realize just how important it is, just as you keep your dining room clean and you keep your windows shiny and you keep your restaurant looking beautiful and appetizing and inviting in a physical location level, your digital presence is just as important. Suddenly in situations like this, where people are living almost entirely online, where life has transitioned almost entirely to being virtual over the last few days and probably for the next couple of weeks, suddenly nobody is looking at your restaurant in the physical space, they’re all looking at your restaurant in the digital space.
Ask yourself, what are they seeing? Because if they're seeing a bunch of broken windows and dirty tables and an ownership that definitely doesn't care about their online presence, then what are they going to think about how much you care about how you make your food and how much you care about getting it to them hot or flavored the right way and so on and so forth. There are still so many businesses and so many restaurants and so many of our customers who have continued to kind of kick the ball on making sure that all of their online components, all of their digital clothing and infrastructure is tip top shape. It's time to get all of that stuff fixed. There's plenty of people who are donating services. There's tons of deals to be had today to help with that. We urge you to do that.
The last piece here is really interesting as well, because what we're starting to see is that there are places where the customer is going and places that restaurants don't typically advertise in and places where there's typically just not a lot of advertising. But those environments are creating a lot of interesting pilot programs and opportunities for engagement that didn't exist before. Here, we're really urging to take a look at where is your customer going online because that's where you want to be. So if they're in a gaming environment or if they're in Yahoo! Games or a World of Warcraft or in Minecraft or anything else, a lot of those places have advertising opportunities. Instead of just advertising the way you used to or advertising on the usual suspects, you really want to think creatively around where is your customer today and how can you reach them there? Can you buy advertising to put yourself into World of Warcraft? Probably not. But can you join to understand what customers are doing there and potentially reach them on there? Sure. But can you buy ads, for example, and other gaming sites and other places that are absolutely getting swamped today? That's where you want to be. And as quickly as possible, you want to unravel your relationships with the advertising venues that are that are irrelevant today. You know, nobody is going to be opening their value pack stuffed envelopes with your coupons in them and marching down the street to get a reservation. But they are probably, you know, playing solitaire and Minecraft and everything else on services that take advertising. So in this case, think outside the box and start experimenting with a lot of these places that, by the way, the entry level cost is not that high and you don't have to spend a ton of money to really better understand for today and frankly, for when this is normalized and things are back to normal; you're going to come back to normal life with more data and more information and more intelligence about your business than you would have gained in months and months of operating over the next couple of weeks. So make the most of it.
MM: So one of the things I've seen here in my Twitter feed has been restauranteurs who were taking photos of people and the way that the food is being handed off for people who come in for pickup to kind of put people at ease. I've also seen a couple of restauranteurs set up a Go Fund Me account for four staff because the hard reality is if you're closing your dining room, you're very likely furloughing some people, at least temporarily. So those have been really noticeable to me — things that I'll remember after this crisis.
VE: Taking the photos, what a great idea. What a great way to say, hey, we know that you're worried and so here we're going to answer the question that you're not asking, Because nobody wants to be the guy who's like, “Are you guys clean? Did you wash your hands before making my food?” But they're thinking it, and they’re worried about it. So why not put them at ease and just say something as simple as whipping out your mobile phone and putting a photo up on Instagram saying, “Hey, we understand and we have you covered.”
MM: Let's talk for a quick second about —speaking of technology and digital advertising— what would you can do to help here.
VE: Well, I'll tell you, Mike. We really wanted to make sure that we'll be doing this fairly consistently. It's really not a platform for us to sell ourselves. A lot of folks know what we do and our customers are working with us hand in hand right now to operationalize some of these models so that people know how they're delivering food and where to find them and everything else. What I will stress is that we are also offering a lot of different incentives today to new customers and existing customers to help out in helping them operationalize new models. We've created and are creating tons of new templates and preexisting ad campaigns that are ready to go when customers log in. All they need to do is pop in their name and their hours and a couple of other variables, and this system will generate these beautiful professional looking ads and it'll generate the strategy for them on where to buy the media, how much to spend and how to target customers. When all is said and done, the platform itself is really an entire ad agency virtualized into a simple, easy to use, Instagram-like interface.
What we did before the crisis is what we're doing during, which is making sure that our customers are getting the benefit of the best, you know, local ad platforms that are that exist, Facebook and Instagram. They're getting the benefit of professional grade strategy and professional grade advertising in letting consumers know about new business models, their take out, their delivery, how to pick up at curbside and everything else. And so a process that could take at best hours, Mike, inside our system, we're talking you can be up and running within minutes and you can have one piece of this anxiety cake handled within minutes.
MM: So Vlad, we promised to take some questions. We've got a few. I wanted to start with a question from a restauranteur in Portland. The question is, do you see major advertisers like Hulu, Netflix or YouTube opening up ads to services like you provide?
VE: Wow, great question. So I know from my own kind of professional network, I know quite a few people who are at Netflix and YouTube. I think that the simplest answer to that is yes, because advertising always finds a way on to media services in one way or another. Are you going to recognize that advertising when you see it? Maybe not at first. Maybe they'll be experimenting with very different types of ads, and they’ll be experimenting with very different formats. They may also be looking at putting ads into areas of the service that are less critical in terms of the watching experience so that they’re not watering down that experience that people are paying for it. That's important to remember, there are premium services. So they don't want to be cavalier about inundating a customer with ads. If the customer's eyeballs are somewhere, we will also be there at some point. We constantly evaluate new platforms and new places where we can buy media on behalf of our customers that is less crowded, less noisy, more effective, better at driving people into restaurants, better at driving people to order more restaurants and bringing their friends. We're doing that all the time. And so whether it's Hulu and Netflix or whether it’s Yelp or Open Table or TripAdvisor, our platform will most likely service that environment in the very near term.
MM: OK. I've got another one from an owner named John from Kansas City who says, “I'm a barbecue restaurant owner and wondering what the big picture is for getting the economy back on track and how that might affect restaurants.” It's a pretty huge question.
VE: Boy! I think we're going to need a lot more than an hour. You want to maybe start off there, how global outlook is, Mike?
MM: Yeah. Again, one of the things we’re facing here is this is unprecedented, and the beginning point was known, the end point is not. A lot of that has to do less with the medical analysis and the contagion rates than with something in my business we would call regulatory risk — it’s the reaction not just of the federal government and World Health Organization, but also of your city, your county, your state. There's a real patchwork in the United States which makes it less coordinated. There's no way around that. A federalist system with 50 states and all these municipalities that have real power is not going to be able to lock a city down the way the Chinese do. So we just don't know. But of the things we can look at, ultimately the Trump administration has really opened the spigots in terms of aid and restaurants will qualify for some of what they're now saying is three hundred billion dollars in short term, no interest loans to carry various types of businesses through this. That's a big deal. That kind of aid wasn't necessarily available in 2008 for small and mid-sized businesses, so that's a good piece of news.
The other thing is the supply chain questions whether you can get the ingredients you need, any equipment you might need. I think if we look across the Pacific at China and where they are today, there's a kind of optimistic story there in that they are now (I saw today) worried about being infected again by the rest of the world, that it seems to have burned through in China. That might be a good bit of news for us as we move into the Spring. Perhaps this is something where it peaks quickly and drops, but again, that's speculation. You know, I go back to what I said earlier in the in the webinar. Take these steps now, because they'll pay off in the long run anyway. They'll make you better at everything and more resilient. But you don't want to wait for a period where you're really struggling financially to make an investment in creating capacity for the types of delivery services or curbside that you need. It makes sense to do that stuff early.
VE: Yeah. We should also go back to another point earlier, Mike, which is it's interesting because we hear this all the time as consumers of news and as and as citizens, both of the digital and the virtual and the physical world, which is if you read the news today and if you listen to the folks who talk about it, you would think that 90% of all shopping happens online and that physical retail is at 10% and shrinking, irrelevancy that is dying on the vine. Well, the reality is 80% of all global commerce still takes place in the physical world, not the digital world. Are people going to still be eating in restaurants after this is over? Of course they will be. Are they going to be aware of new ways to cook for themselves? Are their pantries going to be particularly full for a while? Are they going to have tried a lot of places that they haven't tried before? Sure. But things are going to get back to normal at some point and probably sooner rather than later. The reality is, if you're treating this as if the apocalypse is here and everything has stopped, it's foolish because human beings are still human beings. All of us are anxious for things to normalize and to get back to normal. Restaurants are a fundamental part of life and they have been for millennia.
MM: Vlad, one last question. There's no name on this one: “What is the most creative way that you two have seen restaurants react to this crisis so far?”
VE: I've seen them a lot. Mike, I don't know if you've seen anything where you are in Denver?
MM: Yeah, there's two things here. They're real quickies. One is some of the higher end restaurants have managed to get their hands on food trucks and they're serving some of their fare outside, which I guess people feel a little more comfortable than going into a restaurant and picking it up. The other thing is it’s half, half funny (nothing’s completely funny right now), but there’s an Asian restaurant here in Denver that is giving away a roll of toilet paper if you spend $15 or more., how great is that?
VE: How great is that? It's almost too great, too squeamish for me. But in that same thing, I think one of the best things I've seen is with a focus on cleanliness and figuring out ways to be contactless in the process of giving you your food. There's a restaurant that's not too far away from me that set up this curbside system where I think they found this thing in an old bank or a demolished ATM branch where it's this Lucite lazy susan kind of thing that banks used to take cash from you and gas stations use at the end of the night so that people don't rob them. So they were using one of these to take money and curbside from people who were driving by to pick up their food. Then they would lazy susan the food over so there was no direct contact between the customer and the person that was handling the transaction. So lots of creative ways that people are dealing with this. It's unbelievable. The tenacious nature of restauranteurs is forever impressive to me. It’s a really different class of business person.
MM: Yeah. It's a really inspiring thing to see, people reacting and evolving so quickly. I know I speak for you when I say we wish everyone great health and we hope that this economy snaps back quickly. That'll pretty much wrap it up for today's webinar with Targetable CEO Vlad Edelman and myself. For more on this and Targetable, you can check out the website, www.targetable.com and you'll find information on what Targetable is doing to help businesses in this difficult time. You can also find a running list of things that are going on around the country that affect the restaurant industry. Much of what you just heard will be available in recording. We'll reach out and send you that recording when it's available. And for me, Mike Moran, I'd like to say thank you for joining us and so long.
VE: Thank you, Mike. Thank you, everybody.
The following transcript was recorded March 19, 2020
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