Running A Restaurant 101: Takeout
Choosing to diversify your services by offering takeout is a great way to drive up your sales, increase your profits and gain more customers. In fact, during the pandemic offering a takeout service became a lifeline for many businesses. Customers want convenience, and they love having options. By adding a takeout service, you open your business to a whole new market. If you are thinking about adding this service to your business but you aren’t sure where to start, keep reading for more info.
Your POS System
Every business with a retail element will have some form of POS or point of sale system. This system might be relatively old-fashioned, relying on the staff to work out the numbers, or it might be entirely online. Either way, you need to consider whether your current POS system can handle a new addition to your service. Your system will need to help you organize and even facilitate your takeout endeavor to keep customer information handy to ensure that the right order goes to the right person. It also needs to integrate with your ordering options, whether they are telephone or online orders. All while allowing you to maintain control.
Takeout vs Delivery
The next thing to consider is whether you want to offer a delivery service or simply order pickups. You need to think about several factors when you are trying to work out which choice is going to work the best for you. Firstly, to offer a delivery service you will have to hire drivers. These new hires need training, and they will often be one of the first impressions that delivery customers will get off your business. This is something that you should impress upon them if you decide to go down that route. They also will need to know how to handle and deliver the food safely too.
You could also choose to allow a third-party delivery service to make the deliveries on behalf of your business. However, this does mean relinquishing some control. What if your customers encounter an unreliable driver? At the least, they could give your business a bad reputation. At the worst, their unsafe food practices could make your customers ill. The level of liability could be a concern and needs researching thoroughly before you offer a commitment. Finally, if you don’t offer a delivery service, is your business in a good location to offer takeout? Is it accessible? Will locals want to come to pick up the food? Would a takeout service be cost-effective by itself, without a delivery element?
If you have an extensive and complicated menu, it might be worth simplifying it a little to make it easier and more compatible with a takeout service. Too many items on a menu can be a little overwhelming for consumers. Keep it simple and direct. When it comes to takeout or delivery, there is always the possibility that the food could become cold, soggy, or simply not travel well, so be sure to keep this in mind when trying to work out whether your menu is suited to a takeout service at all.
When offering takeout, there is more to think about than simply just the food. You will need the right equipment to go with it. This means containers or boxes, insulated delivery bags – if you plan on hiring your own delivery staff, napkins, cutlery, condiments, cups, and lids. Your customers will remember the packing that their food comes in, which means quality matters. Spending money on this equipment is important; it communicates important information regarding your business and the types of things that you prioritize.
A Designated Pickup Spot
When it comes to offering a takeout service, you need to have a place to leave the food for the customers to grab. Without one, you run the risk of slowing down the other processes within your business with delays. In addition, it can create traffic jams and hold-ups within the kitchen. This is why you ought to think about having a designated space for the pickups to take place. This way, the customers or delivery drivers can bypass the queue. For example, restaurant curbside pickup increased massively in popularity over the pandemic and made for a much more efficient system.
Third-Party Delivery Services
This was briefly touched upon above, but it deserves further exploration. There are lots of third-party options when it comes to food delivery. In the name of profitability, signing up to as many as possible does increase your potential reach. However, you need to think about the costs associated with each platform. Do they charge you a flat fee or ask for a commission? Does the platform integrate with your POS system properly? Can you track the drivers and the deliveries properly to ensure that your customers are satisfied?
Marketing Your New Service
After you have worked out the process and practices you want to implement for your new takeout service, it is time to market said service. You need to have the menu and the logistics out of the way first, as well as the station itself, obviously. The question is, then, how do you market this new service? Consider your current marketing methods. Are there any techniques that tend to be more successful than others? You should start with them. You will also need to update your website, social media channels, and storefront advertisements too. It might also be worth considering offering a special deal or discount for your new takeout customers to act as an incentive.
You can add a takeout service to your restaurant relatively cheaply and easily; the difficulty comes when you choose to offer delivery or use a third-party delivery service. That being said, when done properly, diversifying your restaurant’s offerings can prove lucrative because you are able to access a wider market. Often, the benefits outweigh the costs, but you should still take the time to conduct your research to determine whether it makes sense for you to offer this service financially.
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