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Owing to the pandemic and the social distancing norms, food delivery and takeaway have emerged as the only options for restaurants to conduct business.
Till date, restaurants were dependent on third party aggregators such as Zomato & Swiggy, however, the risks of being overdependent on them, the exorbitant charges and malpractices such as masking of customer data have rendered them as infeasible.
Hence, implementing independent online ordering systems for restaurants has become the need of the hour. Whether it is ghost kitchens or fine dining, to survive in these times restaurants need to ensure they are delivery and takeaway friendly and make these a critical part of the long-term business strategy.
Here are some tips to prepare your restaurant for takeaway and food delivery service:
Before shifting to online service, it is essential to define the audience to whom you want to cater your services. Who were your primary customers when business was normal? Was it the students from the college nearby? Or, employees of the next door office complex? Or, unspecific groups of friends and families that visited you specially? In some cases, it might be long before your usual customers come back. Hence, you need to revise your strategy. Probably shift your focus to the residents nearby, or a student hostel in the vicinity, etc. Maybe focus on a niche audience, and reinvent your brand to appeal to them, such as the vegan community. Once determined, cater your communication and marketing to this audience and introduce them to your services to them!
Use social media, email campaigns, your website or even a banner at your restaurant - informing customers about the takeaway and delivery options. If you have an existing loyal customer base, utilize campaigns or social ads to market your own online ordering to them and generate orders!
If you’re just starting, it is in your best interest to limit items on your delivery list. Since labour might be limited, you can concentrate on low cost but high profit, quick preparation and high shelf life food. Study your menu and find items that use the same ingredients or preparation so you can save on inventory costs and cooking times. Be sure to tweak your items, especially bestsellers to travel a distance and retain its flavour as well as eatability. You want to ensure food that reaches your customers is delectable and inviting to guarantee yourself repeat orders!
Set aside areas for drivers picking up orders for delivery and customers waiting in line for takeaway. Provide for enough and dedicated space to accommodate prep, packaging and dispatch. Ensure quick checkout for takeaway customers by enabling them to order and pay beforehand using an online ordering system.
High volumes of takeaways and deliveries at the same time can overwhelm your staff. Hence, designate specific tasks and train them to efficiently carry them out. Assign employees to manage orders, expediting food, packaging and double check items being sent out before handing them off to drivers. Ascertain the safety of your staff and customers by mandating hygiene and sanitation protocols.
Even if it means shelling out a little extra money, assuring good packaging for takeaway and delivery will directly contribute to customer experience and satisfaction. If customers receive cold or soggy food, a mess of items mixed with each other, not easy to eat from or transfer, they will most likely not order from you again. Thus, it is important to use sturdy, flat bottom and well insulated or ventilated packaging to ensure food quality. If possible, use transparent packaging so your staff can see what is being handed over to drivers and customers too can check what they’re accepting and avoid errors.
Don’t forget to include marketing material in the packages, apart from generating reorders, it is a critical medium for you to maintain your branding and conveying your identity to customers.
If possible, reduce or completely eliminate minimum order criteria and take up the delivery costs to push your customers to order from you, more frequently as well. Every order contributes to your revenue and restrictions on the same might hinder your quantum.
Reassure customers and build their confidence by communicating the measures you are taking to ensure their safety. Whether it is stipulated times to wash hands, disinfection of premises, deep sanitisation of utensils, contactless menu, payments or delivery, tell your customers what you’re doing!
Give customers a medium to go the extra mile and support your staff. This can be by means of an additional tip, assured meals or something else. Your customers understand the scenario today and appreciate the efforts of your staff, hence push them to do their bit!
Invest in your own online ordering system for restaurants; exist where your customers are and give them the ability to directly order from you, enabling you to improve your margins by saving up on high commissions and ensuring higher order sizes. Use a system that is integrated with your Point of Sale and has an in-built loyalty program and marketing CRM to bring your customers back!