Young woman hands a bag of takeout food to a young man. Her restaurant is known for high quality takeout and delivery.

It’s no secret that restaurants had to ramp up their online ordering capabilities during the pandemic. Most did — for good reason. According to Fundera by NerdWallet, more than 112 million Americans have used an online food delivery service. That’s substantial, and even more noteworthy when you consider it’s growing 300% faster than in-house dining and generates more than $26.5 billion — a number that is expected to grow to $32 billion by 2024.

Given 60% of American consumers order takeout or delivery one time per week minimum, it’s not just time for hold-outs to get on board — it’s essential to perfect both the process and the preparations themselves. 

All that said, executing at the same level for takeout and delivery as dine-in isn’t easy. However, it is possible. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd.

Update your digital menu

Did you know 70% of consumers prefer to order directly from a restaurant than use a third-party service? That’s why updating your restaurant’s online menu is more important than ever. A well-engineered digital menu that includes pictures of dishes — even to-go cocktails — helps market your offerings and sell your restaurants. In fact, it can be a marketing tool in and of itself. That same menu should be optimized for mobile use.

Rethink your menu

Remember that some dishes are more suited to dine-in service, while others hold well. There’s no rule that says your dine-in, delivery and carryout menus have to be exactly the same. Well-tuned restaurant technology tools can simplify menu creation, while helping you adapt and update your menu items at will. Perhaps you should tweak your online menu, swapping out less stable ingredients in dishes on your carryout and delivery menu. If it can’t — or shouldn’t — be done, that particular dish may not be right to include.

How will you know what flies and what doesn’t?  Optimize your restaurant menu to gain insight into what’s performing best — and what is not. By tracking customer preferences and engagement with your offerings, you can adjust what you serve to accommodate takeout and delivery customers while finding ways to upsell your offerings.

Enlist a larger warmer

Typically, heated shelf warmers are located between your cooks and where servers pick up dine-in dishes. Given they don’t hold more than a few plates, call-in orders often go by the wayside. To better adapt meals for takeout, consider installing more warming shelves to keep orders warm while they await customer pick up or delivery.

Hire employees for takeout and delivery

Knowing full well there are staffing shortages industry-wide, it’s still wise to dedicate employees to your out-of-house operations. 

For the best outcome, assign employees to each station: one for taking orders, other employees for food preparation and/or packaging; and a food runner to bring food to curbside customers or to the delivery person helps fine-tune the experience for customers and employees alike.

Include instructions — and a personal touch

When you’re serving diners in house, you have control over what’s set before them. At home, it’s a different story. To help customers enjoy their order as intended, include printed heating instructions with all orders makes all the difference in the world. 

Don’t rule out including a handwritten note either. It’s a personal touch — and a small effort — that can have a big impact.

Consider your amenities

Not everyone is eating their takeout at home. That means they may not have access to cutlery or condiments. Including them — or including them when requested — is a considerate gesture that helps ensure they can enjoy their meal in full.

Then there’s the matter of packaging. While branded containers cost more, they seep into your customers’ subconscious — especially when it’s cool packaging that sets you apart and shows consideration and attention to detail.

Think, too, of ways you might surprise and delight your carryout and delivery customers. Sending customers home with a unique treat, such as a signature sweet, is a tried and true way to stand out. But what about a recipe card instead? They’ll have a branded, experiential gift that can prompt future dining experiences.

Make it easy

It’s important to consider what pickup looks like. After all, the process should be easy given customers order takeout to save time and effort. 

Then there’s the matter of accuracy. By updating your digital menu and keeping it up to date, you’re better positioned to meet expectations. Pay special attention to order taking and checking orders to ensure accuracy. Having a checklist of items to include helps your staff ensure nothing is missed. 

Having dedicated parking spaces for curbside service makes things easy on customers, too. Plus, it’ll prevent a log jam from happening in your parking lot.

Want to explore more ideas and tips for running your restaurant more efficiently and effortlessly? Be sure to visit our blog.

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