As lockdown eases, businesses are faced with choices of how to operate. When the lockdown was imposed on the catering and hospitality industry, many dine-in restaurants adapted to offering takeaway and delivery service to keep running.
A very new venture for many that raised its own challenges to overcome from handling orders over the phone to the efficient delivery of food using takeaway packaging that would keep the food hot, safe and presentable to the dine-in equivalent regular customers expect.
There have been some fantastic success stories of the takeaway service being a massive hit in local communities and market changes of fewer people travelling to town centres & cities. Local restaurants, cafes and takeaways have a great opportunity in growing their local customer loyalty.
Lockdown now eased has meant the reopening of restaurants and dine-in cafes to reopen their doors. However, many are restricted with coronavirus social distancing rules and are not getting the same number of covers. Restaurants & Cafes are also faced with the decision of what to do with the new takeaway side of the business?
Although lockdown is eased and we can all go to the pub for an evening meal, there is still a huge market for takeaway as large portions of the population don't have the confidence of eating out.
Restaurants & Cafes should see takeaway as a long term channel of revenue. Even if we are out of lockdown entirely and you can achieve 100% covers, you could then be growing your takeaway offering at the same time allowing your business to grow without an increase in premise size, business rates or refurbishment.
Here are our points to consider when looking at your takeaway side of the business long term:
How you handle your incoming orders.
Incoming orders over the phone can be time consuming and open to human error. Think about how the customer can see your Menu from home and order online, can your website be adjusted to suit this and integrated with your ticket system for your kitchen to dish dine-in meals alongside takeaway delivery. Your online ordering needs also to process the payment so your incoming orders are secured and paid for in advance. This is a must investment for longterm operation success.
Kitchen logistics & Menu
Consider your Menu, will you offer the whole Menu for takeaway or a reduced one. Some dishes will be very difficult to deliver even with the best food packaging on the market. Once you have that order in, will it fit in with your dine-in Menu and complement it using the same multiple ingredients maximising profits and reducing the amount of ingredient holding. Streamline your takeaway Menu at the start and build on it with introducing daily or weekly specials to entice repeat orders. Offering different menus to dine-in also means that all your takeaway customers become potential future dine-in and visa versa.
Presentation & Function of Packaging
How will your food be delivered? In a bag? A box? on the back of a motorcycle? This is a critical decision, and we advise first to think about function, presentation second. Some food boxes suit dry food better than wet, and others will work better for reheating than others too. Once you have your food arriving in the right way, then think about your brand and perception of your business when the food arrives. Take a look at our takeaway packaging section and get in touch for any advice.
The follow-up & feedback
Refine your customer base by asking how it went. Customers will appreciate it more and will give your business ideas on how to improve your takeaway offering and process. This is also a fantastic way of building customer loyalty as they can see that criticism is taken and then acted upon. It's very easy to lose a customer from ordering a takeaway a second time if the first delivery didn't meet expectations, but by asking, you increase your second and third ordering chances greatly even if it didn't go quite to plan.
Market your business
You have your offering in place, the process is there, and customers can order online. But no orders?
Make sure you are visible on search engines such as Google. If you search takeaway food and you are sitting in your restaurant, and you don't come up on the first page, you need to work on your online presence and grow your rankings. This is a new world for many in the catering industry. Seek advice on how to make sure your Google business listing is showing, make sure you ask customers to review on Google too so new customers have confidence in ordering. Consider a Google Adwords campaign to guarantee if someone searches for takeaway food in your town then you show at the top. Please seek advice on this as this can be a costly exercise if not done correctly.
Catering24 are here for you for all your packaging needs and would like to thank all of its loyal customers over this challenging time. We hope this post has been useful and maybe thrown up some ideas for you to progress in growing your business.