With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to spread around the globe - and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon - restaurants around the country have no choice but to adapt to the current landscape. In a large chunk of the country, restaurants can now only operate through curbside and delivery services; odds are this will be every restaurant before too long.
For those restaurants that have not offered delivery or to-go service before (or have only provided limited service at times in the past), this may be a challenging time. We're here to help. Here are the 7 things you need to know to prepare your restaurant for to-go and delivery service.
Take a long, hard, look at what is on your menu, and think about what you want to offer for your takeout and to-go service. There may be many-ingredient dishes that translate well to an in-restaurant experience - but might not be the best option for takeout service. On the other end of the spectrum, some of the classic "comfort food" dishes of the national palate might be precisely what people will need these days. Consider cutting down some of the more labor-intensive, ingredient-heavy offerings on the menu for simpler foods that travel well and ease nerves - macaroni and cheese, casseroles, sandwiches, soups. These will be trying times for people. They'll want food that calms the mind and doesn't require a whole lot of thinking.
To-go and delivery service is much different than the traditional in-restaurant dining experience. Work closely with your cooks and your staff to come up with a method for these options. Go over every possible variable. Identify what the busy times might be, and when there may need to be extra hands to help out in the kitchen. Develop clear protocols for accuracy checks for each order, and be vigilant in checking them - and making sure the right order gets in the right hands. Set up a specific area where delivery drivers stopping in to pick up meals can grab their food (and be sure to put some type of hand sanitizer by this area). Try to designate a space outside your establishment where drivers can park for a few minutes as they get their meals. Nail down every little detail, so things go right.
This is a critical factor, especially if your establishment has never offered a to-go or delivery option before. If starting from scratch, it's essential to make sure you provide the best quality during the delivery process - and the right packaging makes all the difference. Try out several different options and experiment and record your results. Make sure hot food stays hot and cold dishes keep cold. Ensure that the packaging of foods at different temperatures won't harm the quality of both. Train your staff thoroughly on how your most popular dishes should get wrapped up to maintain quality. At the start, this may require a great deal of trial and error. Be sure that you are simulating the delivery experience and taste-testing the food after it has sat in its take-out bag for 30 minutes.
There are several options out there in an extremely crowded marketplace. Food delivery services (and their accompanying food delivery apps) were already on the upswing before this crisis happened; now, they're an essential part of the restaurant industry. The most popular options for getting food delivered are companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Seamless, and Caviar with many other different services out there for restaurant partners. Each of them offers specific benefits and drawbacks - significant service fees, for example. Self-delivery is another option for some restaurants; if that's the case, be sure to hire reliable, reputable drivers with good records and experience, and spend a lot of time educating them about delivery protocols.
Make sure you let your loyal customers know you're still cooking. Update your social media to deliver a strong message about your delivery or to-go service, and post about it regularly. Put up a message about the service in a prominent place on your home website. Make the message positive and empowering. If you've made any tweaks to your regular menu, be sure to update that part of the website as well. Additionally, this might be a great time to invest in a social media advertising campaign; sprinkling a few dollars for an advertising message on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter could help your restaurant stand out in a now-crowded delivery marketplace.
It's even more frustrating for delivery customers if something goes wrong with the meal - since they won't be on-premise to voice their concerns. Be sure you have a line of communication open for customers. This might seem trivial, but it's absolutely key to nurturing loyal customers that keep reordering. Since you have so many things on your plate right now, Humm is offering 2 months of Humm Live Text Feedback for free so you can painlessly check this box off the to-do list (sign up here).
Double down on your efforts to keep your restaurant clean during your takeout and to-go phase. Make sure everything is clean and sanitized, ensure that employees are healthy, and make sure all proper food handling and preparation techniques get followed to the letter. Send a reassuring message or post to your customers via the website and social media that in the delivery and to-go phase of your restaurant, all the best practices for health and safety are in place and strictly observed. That's what customers are seeking these days.
From those restaurants that offer classic staples all the way to fine dining delivery, know this - we're all in this together, and we're all going to make it through. Good luck to all, and keep watching this space for more important tips you can use.
Repeat takeout business is key to your success in the coming weeks, and it's essential to maintain open lines of communication with your customers. With the goal of supporting restaurants during this challenging time, Humm is offering 2 free months of Live Text to restaurants, which will let your customers text you directly after their meal. It takes only one minute to sign up.
*This Humm Live Text offer ($700 value) is running for a limited time