The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on small businesses around the world, but perhaps no industry has been affected as much as hospitality.
Governments across the globe are either recommending or enforcing, social distancing. That means limiting the number of people that we come into contact with, keeping a safe distance (6 feet) away from those that we do and avoiding non-essential trips outside our homes.
As a result, many countries and states have ordered the closure of non-essential businesses.
This has had a huge impact on the hospitality industry. As a restaurant owner, you now have two options. You can either temporarily close your business until this pandemic is over, or you can stay open and pivot your restaurant into another type of service model, such as a take-out service.
Remember, preparing your restaurant for a successful takeout ordering system isn’t just a short-term approach during COVID-19. It’s a long-term strategy that will boost your revenue long into the future.
In fact, in 2018 Frost & Sullivan estimated the takeout industry at $82 billion in terms of gross revenue bookings - but that’s set to more than double by 2025 to $200 billion. This represents a huge opportunity for restaurateurs, and those who don’t seize it may miss out on additional revenue streams.
Restaurants from quick service, casual to even fine-dining can benefit massively from a successful takeout strategy. If your restaurant has never done takeout before but wants to start during the COVID-19 lockdown, here are some tips to help:
1 - Design a strategy that facilitates easy ordering
The first step of a successful takeout strategy is understanding your audience, and how they would prefer to order food from your takeout service. Some restaurant’s audiences will prefer to order their food over the phone, while others will prefer to order online.
Meanwhile, other customers may prefer to send a text, others might prefer to use an official restaurant-branded app and other customers will use a third-party provider such as SkipThe Dishes. Find an ordering system that works for both your customer as well as your restaurant’s internal processes.
2 - Adapt your menu if necessary
Your regular diners will still be your main customers for your takeout service, so you won’t want to change what’s on your menu too much from your restaurant’s physical menu. However, it’s likely that you are going to have to make a few changes.
The main reason for this is that some dishes don’t travel well. You want your takeout items to travel from your restaurant to your customer’s door without losing quality. If you have items on your menu that won’t travel well make sure to take them off, otherwise that customer may never buy from you again.
3 - Deliver what you promised
If you have a number of ways for your customers to order food then your restaurant is maximizing how you reach potential customers. The downside, however, is that the risk of error increases unless you have a solid internal strategy in place.
Just like you would for orders in your physical restaurant, make sure takeout orders are being recorded in your point of sale (POS) software to minimize the risk of the wrong food being sent to customers.
Make sure you also appoint a member of staff to do quality assurance for all take out orders, ensuring the food is as the customer ordered and it’s to your restaurant’s usual high standard. Just because the diner isn’t actually visiting your restaurant, doesn’t mean the food should be lower than its usual quality. If it is, you are potentially losing long-term business.
4 - Let your customers know that you’re open for business
If customers don’t hear from you during COVID-19, it’s likely that they will assume you have shut up shop. Make sure you use your existing social media channels and your restaurant’s website to let people know that you are taking the proper precautions and that you are open for takeout orders.
By keeping customers updated with what your business is doing, putting their mind at ease about the precautions you are taking to safeguard their health and letting them know that you are still open for business, you will increase the chance of them ordering from your takeout service.
5 - Ensure accurate inventory control to reduce overspend
Unfortunately, your restaurant has probably lost business since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With takeout, you now have an opportunity to bring in revenue that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.
To make sure you maximize these profits, it’s incredibly important that you are maintaining accurate inventory control in your restaurant. This will ensure you aren’t overspending on inventory - helping to boost the profit you see on every takeout dish.
Are you interested in more tips and advice on how your restaurant can implement a successful takeout strategy, which lasts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and long into the future?
Contact Sculpture Hospitality today. Our team of hospitality experts would love to help.