Successful restaurants are constantly reimagining and looking for new opportunities to improve their services. In normal times this might look like introducing a better POS system, staff training programs or even entirely rethinking their offerings.
Restrictions on restaurants due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, have caused many restaurants to rethink their processes for achieving and maintaining profitable operational efficiency.
Delivery and takeout services have been steadily rising in popularity over the last few years and COVID-19 has further propelled this trend. Restaurants are increasingly turning to tech to expand their offering to include services such as take-out, delivery, curbside pickup and more. These services have been staples for many big brands for years, but are now increasingly important for the survival and profitability of the hospitality industry as a whole.
Theses increased service offerings have not only enabled restaurants to continue services throughout the coronavirus pandemic but will allow them to increase profitability as lockdowns ease and dine-in services return. In this article, we explore 5 ways that restaurants are diversifying their services to maintain and improve their operations.
1. Implementing online ordering
Implementing an effective online ordering system allows restaurants to take full advantage of services such as take-out and delivery. Additionally, people find it much easier to order online rather than over the phone. A good online ordering system needs to have a few basic characteristics.
First, it needs to be mobile responsive. The reason for this is two-fold. First, 69% of people with a mobile device said they had used their phone to order food. Secondly, a key metric that Google uses to index and rank websites is whether or not it is mobile-friendly. In 2019 Google switched over completely to mobile-first indexing, meaning that Google crawls and indexes your website based on how it renders on a mobile phone versus a desktop computer.
Other important characteristics for a good online ordering system include the ability to integrate with your current POS systems, support your loyalty schemes, and encourage upsells and additional purchases with features such as suggested add-ons. The latter feature is important for helping increase average order value (AOV) to achieve profitability with reduced dine-in services and additional delivery costs.
Finally, an effective online ordering system will also increase operational efficiency and reduce the potential for human error in the ordering process resulting in a better customer experience.
2. Create a tailored takeout and delivery menu.
Not every meal item can or should be offered up for delivery. Some items don’t travel well, others take too long to prepare. So, it makes sense to adjust your menu in accordance with whether it’s going to be eaten in, or taken out. For your take-out menu you will want to choose items (or even create new items) which will travel well and are fast to serve.
For example, a smoothie or ice cream dessert might be fast and quick to make, however, it will warm up on the journey and is unlikely to get to the customer in a satisfactory state. Additionally, low-value items like these won’t make enough money to warrant the cost of delivery. You also want to avoid delicate items or those that will fall apart during transit.
3. Offer curbside pickup.
Curbside pickup allows for customers to get their food faster as they don’t have to wait for it to be delivered, and it removes the cost of delivery for both restaurant and customer. When done well, this service can dramatically improve the customer experience. Fort these reasons there are a number of restaurants that have specifically designed offeringsd to incentivise curbside pickup.
If you have a parking lot, make sure to reserve a couple of space for curbside pickup. Additionally, it is important to ensure that staff are trained on the proper procedures for handling curbside orders and accepting payments.
4. Implement delivery services.
The beauty of online ordering and takeaway services is that it allows people to eat great food from your restaurant in the comfort of their own home. Enjoying restaurant food with a Netflix flick was, in fact, the main reason why over half of millennials surveyed said they get takeaway.
However, while curbside pickup is the most efficient option for takeout, many people prefer the ease of delivery services and are willing to pay a little extra for it. There are a number of reliable third-party app services that enable you to arrange your delivery service, or you can employ your own drivers to manage deliveries.
Delivery services have been crucial for many restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic and run alongside an efficient online ordering system it doesn’t take much tweaking to achieve profitability.
5. Optimize in-store ordering
It’s not just developing online ordering services which can help a restaurant diversify and increase profits. It’s also important to focus on optimizing restaurant services in-store. There are numerous ways to do this and managers should be constantly looking for new ways to achieve new efficiency.
However, in this article we look at two particular strategies that restaurants are implementing to help them increase efficiency, improve customer experience, and importantly reduce contact between staff and customers and thus improve health and safety standards.
The first of these strategies is self-service kiosks. This service allows customers to explore you menu and place orders using kiosks placed around the restaurant. These orders get sent straight to the kitchen and can be collected by customers when they’re ready. The second strategy is table ordering.
This strategy utilities QR codes which allow customers to access your menu, place their order and even pay, all using their phone.
The only point of contact between staff and customers using these strategies is when food is delivered and thus enables restaurants to effectively employ social distancing measures without negatively affecting customer experience.
Now more than ever it is important for restaurants to focus on diversified services. Done correctly and effectively and restaurants will not only be able to weather the storm of COVID-19 but also employ new efficiency strategies which will ultimately improve their bottom line.
We have explored at 5 methods that restaurants are focusing on during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s important to note that every restaurant is different and will require tailored approaches.
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