Innovation & Rapid Response are Key to Zoup!’s Resilient Growth

Finding someone not impacted personally or professionally by the changes during 2020 is nearly impossible. However, innovative business owners and leaders are creating ways to continuously connect with customers, meet the new demands for health and safety and improve the process for opening new restaurants.  

Zoup! Omaha in Aksarben Village

Restaurant Grand Opening Challenges in 2020

Franchise and independent restauranteurs responded quickly to the pandemic, offering curbside pick-up, contactless ordering, QR-code scanned menus and retro-fitted dining rooms to accommodate 6 feet of personal spacing. In addition, opening a brand-new restaurant during COVID offered new marketing and training challenges, such as:

  • Minimal office workers in surrounding buildings
  • No door to door marketing to distribute invites or menus
  • Limited pre-open training capacity
  • Limited dine-in capacity
  • No ribbon-cutting ceremonies
  • Local press dominated with developing world news

Overcoming Challenges with Innovative Marketing Techniques

Pivoting to address this sea of change and to help insure a better Grand Opening for the franchise owner, Zoup! delayed the scheduled opening of its newest Zoup! Eatery in Omaha, Nebraska. This was a new market for Zoup! and the Marketing Team used this time to build online awareness through social media and personalized email outreach to local in-office workers. As the date for the pre-opening events drew closer, improvements were made to protect the staff and guests while still building a healthy business:

  • Focused online promotions through email, social media (paid and organic), press releases
  • Expanded communication using social media events, text messages and emails
  • Extended timeframe for welcome offer redemptions
  • Welcome offers redeemable online, guest did not have to be present
  • Event hours expanded to 11am-8pm (previously 3-hour windows for lunch and dinner)
  • Signage installed for reserved spots in front of restaurant for quick pick-up
  • Pre-open training conducted online to the extent possible
  • Team Members supplied with masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and trained on COVID safety
  • Dining room reconfigured for social distancing and Safety Stations created for guests 
  • Loyalty keypad manned by cashiers to minimize guest touchpoints without losing functionality

Meanwhile, The Zoup! Eatery local non-profit partnership had to be adjusted as well. Rather than focus on direct cash donations, the Zoup! Team tallied purchases made during the opening events after the “welcome offer” and donated to United Way of the Midlands.

Adaptable and Proactive

Nevertheless, the marketing team didn’t stop there. Eight weeks later, after COVID numbers decreased, a second marketing push was launched for a week of Grand Opening events hosted at the restaurant. The second round of events were promoted online through paid and organic social media, text messaging and personalized email outreach along with minimal door-to-door grassroots marketing. The events included online offers thanking medical workers, police, firefighters, teachers and community groups that offered support during the pre-opening events.

As a franchisor, Zoup! was proud to quickly transform an existing process to meet the local franchise owner’s desire to open his restaurant successfully during a very uncertain time for many people.  Regardless of the added challenges of opening a restaurant during a pandemic, the combined efforts of the Zoup! Franchise Teams (Marketing, Technology and Operations) resulted in a strong, steady, and most importantly, safe restaurant opening.

Zoup! Omaha Team pictured with Franchise Owner Jeff Hansen

To learn more, download the free franchise guide below or contact Richard Zimmer at or call 800-940-9687 ext. 4