How Restaurants Can Continue to Maximize Takeout
October 2, 2020
MustHaveMenus offers tips and insights into how restaurants can streamline to-go operations during COVID-19.
By now, most restaurants around the nation have adopted takeout operations. Whether it was a part of their original business model or was a forced lifeline due to COVID-19 shutdowns, it’s now a cemented revenue channel for restaurant operations.
When most people think takeout, they probably picture a typical delivery model with door-to-door service. But takeout goes far beyond that. It encompasses any food or drinks sales consumed off-premise. That includes to-go, grab-and-go and at-home meal kits. With indoor dining capacity limited by COVID-19 and the looming challenges that come with outdoor dining during the colder months, it’s important that restaurants take advantage of takeout in all its forms.
BentoBox spoke with MustHaveMenus — an online DIY design service for restaurants that provide professionally-designed menu templates for restaurants — about why takeout is so important for restaurants and how they can maximize their to-go operations.
Why Takeout is Important
Today, restaurants find themselves at the biggest inflection point in their history. Restaurants have never met a greater threat to their businesses than COVID-19, which has upended regular operations. Takeout has been one of the major lifelines for restaurants and it’s as important tomorrow as it is today.
Why? According to MustHaveMenus, “an industry that stayed largely the same for decades has irrevocably changed, and the past decade serves as a clear delineation between the restaurant experience we knew, and its uncertain future.” Even prior to COVID-19, these changes have been in motion for years.
“Society as a whole has increasingly been moving away from on-premise sales to an online ordering and delivery model. The same consumer trends that changed retail over the last decade have been creeping into the restaurant industry for years. [Delivery] apps have become commonplace, upending traditional sales models, and ghost kitchens are poised to push it even further.”
The ease of online ordering from home has its appeal and benefits — COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend. “The takeout process has now become completely normalized for customers and restaurants alike. It’s no longer an added bonus or differentiator for restaurants, but an essential to their future survival.”
Influence of Technology on Takeout Operations
When it comes to the influence that technology has had on the traditional takeout model, MustHaveMenus states that “currently, new technology serves as a real double-edged sword for takeout and restaurants. The invention of third-party delivery apps made takeout more accessible than ever to the consumer, and it also allowed restaurants who previously didn’t offer takeout to quickly make the pivot when COVID hit. But the inclusion of a middle-man comes with a high cost for both consumers and restaurants. While consumers have shown a willingness to pay an extra few bucks, it could prove an unsustainable business model for many restaurants.”
But there are solutions that put the health of restaurants’ bottom lines at the forefront. “On a more positive note, we’re also starting to see technologies pop up that help restaurants avoid third-party services by bringing takeout services in-house. Online ordering systems, like Bento Ordering, offer a solution that seamlessly integrates with restaurant operations. That way restaurants can encourage customers to order directly from the website while also keeping 100% of the revenue from each sale.”
Understanding the importance of takeout in its current and future state can set restaurants up to take actionable steps to maximize their to-go operations. Here are 3 tips from MustHaveMenus for restaurants to take. Find more advice for thriving this winter on their Winter Success Kit for restaurants.
3 Tips from MustHaveMenus
1. Tailor The Takeout Menu
Not all food travels the same. Certain dishes lose their heat or consistency in transit, which can lead to a poor customer experience and sour a restaurant’s reputation. Restaurants should not feel as though they need to make the entire menu available for takeout. Best practices are to pick dishes that travel well or are high-margin, and offer them on a limited takeout menu.
Once the menu is tailored for takeout and ready to present to guests, restaurants can visit MustHaveMenus to choose from a collection of streamlined Lite Takeout Menus. Restaurants can then add printed menus to takeout orders to promote repeat orders.
2. Bring Operations In-House
Third-party delivery apps make it easy to establish a takeout business, but they drain profits from every single order. Bringing takeout in-house lets restaurants control the customer experience from start to finish and retain all the profits. While it may seem daunting, here are some ways to start:
Offer Direct Online Ordering
Even if restaurants can’t provide delivery yet, there’s no reason they should not control the online ordering process. Direct online ordering systems like BentoBox make setting up online ordering and integrating it with back and front-of-house operations a breeze. It also charges zero-commissions, so restaurants no longer have to split profits with a third-party.
Hire a Delivery Driver
Depending on a restaurant’s delivery needs, one driver (maybe two at peak hours) can probably handle all drop-offs at a fraction of the price of working with third-party delivery services — where restaurants effectively have to pay for the driver and the tech company behind them.
3. Step Up Takeout Promotions
Since takeout will likely generate a large portion of revenue, restaurants may want to focus on promotional energies to reflect that. Restaurants should put takeout at the forefront of all marketing and customer interactions with three goals in mind:
Letting Customers Know About Takeout Options
Especially if restaurants are staying off delivery apps, they’ll need to make sure customers know they’re open for to-go sales.
Instructing Customers On How To Access Takeout
If restaurants only offer carry-out, but not delivery, they’ll need to make that clear. If they prefer customers to order through the website rather than an app, then broadcast that message loudly and clearly at every opportunity — whether it’s through the website, social media, email marketing or even in printed advertisements in to-go bags.
Stand Out From The Competition
With almost every restaurant now offering takeout, restaurants need to catch their customers’ attention. This requires a multifaceted marketing approach where restaurants maximize touchpoints. Put takeout in front of them at every opportunity with flyers, posters, sandwich boards and posts on Instagram and Facebook. MustHaveMenus has taken the hassle out of the latter with fun social media posts to help restaurants stick out when customers are scrolling through their feed. The best part? They’re completely free and simple to use.
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