Before we dive into the awesome venture of ramping up your online ordering business for your restaurant, let’s check a few stats directly from the Upserve website. Keep in mind also that since COVID has hit and people become more and more accustomed to ordering take out food online, it will soon become engrained in them to do it even more. These numbers will actually increase, which means you’d better make sure you have a great restaurant take-out program.
RESTAURANT ONLINE ORDERING STATISTICS
- 60% of U.S. consumers say they order take-out or delivery at least once per week.
- 34% say they spend at least $50 per order when placing a food order online.
- 57% of millennials say they order food online and get it delivered so they don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home.
- 59% of millennials’ food orders are either takeout or delivery.
- 45% say that restaurants that offer loyalty programs would encourage them to use online ordering services even more.
- By the end of 2020, online ordering and delivery will become a $38 billion industry.
- Customers who place an online order with a restaurant will visit that restaurant 67% more frequently than those who don’t.
We’re not done yet though. Here are some COVID stats to think about:
COVID ONLINE ORDERING STATISTICS
- 43% of restaurant owners & managers said that third-party apps cause a disconnect between the restaurant staff and its customers.
- Now that most states allow alcohol to be sold with online orders, restaurants are estimated to be able to retrieve anywhere from 20-30% of the revenue lost because of COVID.
- From February to April in 2020, there was the number of restaurants implementing take-out and delivery services increased 169% and their weekly sales for online ordering and delivery increased by a whopping 840%. That is a mind-blowing stat.
What does all of this mean? It means if you haven’t already taken advantage of online ordering and delivery at your restaurant, you’re a knucklehead.
Ok, that’s a little harsh, but I am here to whip you into shape. More precisely, I would guess that you might already provide online ordering and delivery for your restaurant, but you simply want to make it great, since this really is the wave of the future.
It’s not just COVID either. Even before that, people don’t always have time to cook meals so they just buy instant or prepared foods from restaurants, markets, delis, convenience stores, etc.
But even if there’s time for cooking, most people still choose to order takeout meals because it’s convenient. They can enjoy good tasting and high-quality foods without a hassle.
So having a takeout service means more customers which means more moolah, which means that you survive the apocalypse and continue to thrive long into the future.
Let’s take a closer look, because not all takeout service is effective. Proper planning and organization will ensure your success and help you run a systemized online take-out service.
13 Tips For the Perfect Restaurant Takeout & Delivery Service
TIP #1: MAKE IT EASY
Let’s be clear from the start, creating an effective takeout service is easier said than done. It’s more than just preparing and putting food in handy packages.
The entire takeout process needs to be simple and easy for both the customers and the staff. Keep in mind that people order takeout food to save time, and you want to be able to serve as many people as possible.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that the online ordering process is a breeze for your guests. If you don’t have online ordering connected to your website, you’d best get on it. Your customers should be able to easily access the menu, pick their food and checkout, or they will leave your site and find something else.
The same can be said for telephone orders. The process should be easy and straightforward to avoid confusions. Have a checklist for your staff to ensure that nothing is missed.
You need to be precise in taking and giving food orders. Being accurate is one of the key factors on how to create an effective takeout and delivery service.
If necessary, train the employees who take orders. Be sure that they can input the orders quickly into the POS without errors.
Also, consider investing in some communication equipment so your employees can interact clearly. This can help in forwarding the food orders to the kitchen immediately without causing any mix-ups.
Never deliver food that isn’t properly prepared and of the highest quality. This is a mistake that you want to avoid because it will negatively affect your reputation and this can drive away potential customers. Overcooking a burger, or undercooked pasta will ensure they find somewhere else to order from.
TIP #2: PREPARE A TAKEOUT MENU
You should create a separate menu for takeout orders because not all foods can (or at least should) be delivered.
Some foods will lose their quality if it’s not served immediately.
A good takeout menu will contain cold dishes like cold sandwiches, salads with dressings on the side, or tortilla wraps. That’s not to say you can’t do burgers, pastas, burritos, etc. But make sure you think about what the food will look and taste like after it’s been in a box and a bag for 30 – 60 minutes.
Meat dishes like steak, pork chops, ribs, etc. should probably be avoided.
TIP #3: PACKAGE THE FOOD PROPERLY
There are many takeout services that fail to package orders properly. That’s another mistake that you should avoid to have a successful takeout service.
When you’re packaging foods, be sure to separate the hot from cold items. For example, don’t put the pizza and drinks on the same packaging, or a hot burger with a salad. Use separate packaging.
Also, avoid mixing the ingredients or condiments on a single container. Doing this can ruin the food.
TIP #4: PUT LABELS ON THE PACKAGES
First off, it’s just common sense to label the bags/boxes so that the guests know how ordered what when they get their meals.
Second, you’re still responsible for the safety of your customers even if the foods aren’t consumed in your premises. If someone has a food allergy, make sure to label the package to avoid legal issues (and to ensure the health and safety of your guests, of course).
Having said that, it’s best to address food safety. Add labels or instructions on the packaging of the takeout orders. The packaging should include details about the food’s shelf life and reheating instructions.
TIP #5: HIRE EMPLOYEES FOR TAKEOUT SERVICES
Now more than ever, it’s necessary to consider hiring or assigning employees just for takeout orders. Even when restaurants are at full-service, the restaurant take-out and delivery service is going to keep growing.
Processing takeout orders is a tough task. To make this service work efficiently, you need to assign employees for each station. One person should be taking orders and other employees must be assigned to the food preparation or packaging. Also, you should hire a food runner to take the food out to the customer or to the delivery person.
Apart from that, you should also plan how you will deliver food orders. Are you going to have a 3rd party delivery service for your restaurant, like UberEats or Grubhub? Or are you going to have an in-house delivery service that you create?
Despite it being a bit more work, we highly recommend creating your own delivery team. This has its advantages for a number of reasons:
- You have control over the delivery time & customer service
- You are able to capture the information of your guests to you can market to them in the future
- 3rd party delivery services take 25 – 40% of your profits, a ridiculously high fee
TIP #6: USE GOOD QUALITY FOOD CONTAINERS
Assure that your customers will be safe with the containers you’re using. Seems obvious, but they should be FDA approved. If you need to, you can check FDA’s website to see their approved food containers.
In addition, the containers must be environmentally friendly so it can be easily disposed.
Though you might be worried about the cost, creating containers/bags with your restaurant’s logo has a lasting affect on your customers. Not only does it seep into their subconscious, but the longer those containers or napkins hang around the house, but more likely they will think of you the next time they want takeout. Most independent restaurants do not have branding on their packages which can help set you apart from your competitors.
TIP #7: PROVIDE PARKING SPACES DESIGNATED FOR TAKEOUT
Again, the easier it is for your customers, the more likely they will come back. If they are able to pull right up to your restaurant, park and walk right in, the convenience will be remembered.
In the same fashion, if they have to drive around the parking lot for ten minutes waiting for your dine-in customers to leave because there are no designated spots, the frustration will not soon be forgotten.
The closer you can put those spots to the entrance of your restaurant, the more convenient it will be.
TIP #8: CREATE A DESIGNATED TAKEOUT AREA INSIDE YOUR RESTAURANT
You don’t want your dine-in customers and staff to get crossed up with your takeout or delivery people. It’s best if you have designated areas to package the to-go orders, as well as an area where your customers are picking up their order.
People want to get in and out, so to avoid disturbing the line of customers with dine-in orders, it’s best to assign an area for takeout orders to make the process quicker.
TIP #9: ADVERTISE AND MARKET YOUR ONLINE ORDERING
Even if you’re doing the right process for takeout orders, it won’t help you achieve your business goals if nobody knows about it.
It goes without saying, you can’t get more sales if you’re not marketing your takeout service. We don’t have time in this article to cover the vast concepts and strategies involved with restaurant marketing, but the obvious ones are social media, gathering an email list, and flyers with coupons or deals inside the takeout packaging so they will order from you again.
In addition, your website should be able to offer deals right online to attract even more new and repeat business.
TIP #10: MAKE SURE YOU’RE MOBILE
In this day and age, you can’t just have a website that looks good from a desktop computer. You need to make sure that your website not only looks good on a mobile device, but that it’s easy to order from that device.
More than half the population prefers being on a mobile device rather than desktop now, so make sure you don’t fall behind. You can even have your own app built just for your restaurant, which is fantastic for branding.
TIP #11: GUARANTEE SATISFACTION OR THEIR MONEY BACK
It goes without saying that not all deliveries or takeout orders are done properly. In fact, some are downright awful. We all have our share of awful takeout or delivery stories. If the customer’s order didn’t arrive on time or there’s a mistake with the packaged foods, offer a refund.
Assure your customers that they don’t have to pay if they are not satisfied with their order. Doing this can help you get more customers because it somehow builds trust.
If the customer’s reason is valid, try to talk to them and ask for suggestions. This can help you improve your takeout service to eliminate its flaws.
TIP #12: CREATE A LOYALTY PROGRAM
People love a rewards program. Not only does it get them excited about your restaurant, but it means they will come back again and again. Gloria Food, which offers a free online takeout software for restaurants, has a system inside the ordering platform that recognizes return customers and is able to offer them loyalty discounts.
To guarantee its effectiveness, make sure that the mechanics are simple. For example, give something in return to customers if they spend $50 on a takeout. Anything too complicated and they might just try something else.
TIP #13: JOIN FORCES WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
There’s nothing like community. Working together with other business around you has a compound effect. Not only does it create good camaraderie, but you can help send each other business.
For instance, you could partner with a local shoe store. When people come in to buy shoes, the store could have a deal that says “Spend $50 or more on shoes and get a $10 gift card for (name of your restaurant)”.
Similarly, you could put a flyer of their store in your takeout orders. Partnering with local business is a highly underrated tactic to growin your sales.
What Are You Waiting For?
As stated, there’s a good chance that you already have takeout for your restaurant, but are you doing everything necessary to make it as efficient as possible? Are you taking care of your guests? Are you making it easier on your staff and operations? Is your food being delivered with quality standards? Are you marketing? How is our website? Is it effective at taking online orders, or does it suck? Are you marketing or just hoping people find you?
Don’t hope for the best. Take action and follow these 13 tips to make your restaurant takeout more awesome than ever.