Pickup, takeout, takeaway, collection or click & collect; ultimately, they’re different names for the same service: allowing your customers to place and pay for orders, and arrange a time to come to you and collect at their convenience.
This blog post will take you through hints and tips to adapt your business for takeout – whether that’s turning your usual dine-in venue to a pickup, or partnering with a local takeaway or food truck.
Step 1 | Choose your technology
Tech doesn’t have to be scary and complicated! The best solutions are usually the simplest with a frictionless experience for both staff and customers. Mobile Order & Pay will give people access to your menu, from their phones. It’s better still if they don’t need to download any apps (who can be bothered with that faff!). They simply scan a QR code or type in a URL. Your menu is then instantly displayed, the customer browses through it, chooses what they want, orders, and pays all in one place.
Thinking ahead for reopening but don’t have a food menu? The government previously backed wet-led pubs to partner with local takeaways to provide a “substantial” meal and continue trading. With this in mind, mobile ordering can prove hugely beneficial. Wi5 can provide you with all the tools and expert advice you need to quickly set up and display local takeaway or food truck offerings in your digital menu. Meaning, if the same regulations apply, you will be able to offer meals to your customers and continue trading safely. Plus your customers can browse all their food and drink options in one place. Several landlords have found great success adapting in this way, with local takeaways and independent caterers often keen to help to boost their revenues too. Even long-beyond the pandemic these partnerships will provide significant benefit to both businesses, helping you stand out from the competition.
EPOS integration can offer a huge advantage in keeping things running smoothly and means menus are synched with those in the till, with all orders going to one place.
It’s worth looking at the guide on ‘How to succeed with mobile Order & Pay’ which provides more detailed information.
Step 2 | Consider the Practicalities
To start offering a takeaway service, we recommend looking at the Food Standards Agency website and the Coronavirus Advice section on the BII site. They provide detailed information on the hygiene processes and requirements you must follow to operate a takeaway service from your pub safely. With the the tightening of lockdown rules in Scotland, we also recommend looking at our blog post, ‘Five tips for a safe Pickup experience’.
1. Make sure hand sanitiser is available for people to use as soon as they enter your premises.
2. Cordon off an area for the sole purpose of collection and handing over of food. The site should be as well away from any dine-in guests, staff areas and the kitchen as possible. If you have one, a private function room is a great space to use for this purpose.
3. Place the packaged up food on a table for your guests to help themselves. This minimises contact and ensures social distancing measures are abided. Make sure the area is regularly sanitised throughout
4. A one-in-one-out policy should be put in place so the collection area doesn’t get too busy, ensuring social distancing can be maintained. The beauty of a mobile Order & Pay solution means customers will have a set collection time. If these are staggered, you should avoid a situation with too many forming a queue outside.
5. Signage is crucial. We suggest making clear signage informing customers of your new pickup procedures. Use this as an opportunity to promote the QR code, and URL customers will need to use at home to place their future orders.
Step 3 | Plan your menu
Don’t leave people waiting: The longest acceptable time for customers to wait for their takeaway (from placing the order to getting their hands on it) is 40 minutes, so consider the length of time it takes to prepare and cook.
Temperature is crucial: Cold food is one of the biggest complaint drivers for takeaway. Equally, no one wants a cold dish served warm after being heated up in the takeout bag by a hot main dish! Make sure you separate the hot and cold items. It’s worth investing in decent containers to ensure your food reaches your customers safely. 85% of people want tamper-evident labels- so make sure everything is sealed well.
Meal kits are popular: Why not think about how you can separate different elements of the dish for your customers to finish off and self-assemble? Several Wi5 clients have introduced ‘meal kits’ and ready meals providing ingredients or frozen meals for people to finish off at home. This is great as it requires less effort from your team and is a quirky idea for your customers! We even have clients offering grocery hampers which is a great way to ensure there’s no fresh ingredient wastage from your kitchen! Customers love this as quite often it means they’re getting locally-sourced, artisanal produce they wouldn’t necessarily find in the supermarket.
Cater to families: Covid has led to changes in people’s takeout consumption. During the lockdown, Deliveroo saw group ordering overtake single orders for the first time and peak ordering time shifting about 30 minutes earlier in the evening. This implies, with people unable to go out as they were before, there’s a rise in demand for family dining. With a lot of areas in local lockdowns and only socialising within households, family meal deals consisting of a mixture of your best-selling items on your children’s and adult menu may be a good route.
Don’t be over-ambitious. Be selective with what’s on your menu until you’ve learnt what’s working well. It’s easier to start small and build up than to overpromise and disappoint! Even the biggest enterprise brands we work with have cut back on the number of dishes they offer for collection. When you’ve grown in confidence and know your pickup business is working consider other occasions you could cater? Lunch accounts for 27% of occasions so research to see if there is a gap which can be filled through offering lunchtime delivery options.
Price fairly. We’ve found most operators are charging a slightly reduced cost to their dine-in menu. This is because customers won’t be getting quite the same experience or the dishes they would for dine-in. If you are providing food for customers to reheat and finish off at home, this should certainly be reflected in the price. It pays to do your research and look at similar businesses in your area to ensure you’re competitive. If you can, it’s also an idea to speak to regular customers to determine what dishes they’d like to see on your menu and how much they’d be willing to pay.
How to partner with a local restaurant, takeaway or food service provider
Speak to local businesses to see if they would be interested in additional custom. Due to social distancing measures, there may be a restaurant that would be keen to make up for the loss of covers in another way. Or you might know of a great food truck that would happily park up in your car park or beer garden. Perhaps a neighbouring fish and chip shop would be willing to deliver to your pub? Now’s the time for local businesses to pull together, so by asking around, the likelihood is you’ll find another innovative company looking to adapt to a new way of servicing customers.
Once you have found your partner, you can create a digital menu featuring your drink menu PLUS their food menu. When customers place their orders, your staff can process them with your chosen provider. Depending on location, you can make arrangements for delivery (perhaps several planned drops), or for your team to act as runners.
Finally, think long-term. This doesn’t have to be Covid-19 solution; it can form part of your future strategy as a way to attract customers, stand out from the crowd and increase ATV. The beauty of mobile Order & Pay is how easy it is to change and update your digital menus. Maybe you could look at promotions such as ‘Burger and a Pint Night’ where you team up with a food truck, or ‘Gourmet Evenings collaborating with a local caterer to offer fine dining tasting menus…. ‘Fish and Chip Mondays’… ‘Friday Night Curry’… ‘Sunday Brunch’ The opportunities to partner with other innovative operators are endless!
Step 4 | Promotion
Tell customers about your pickup menu on your social media channels and if possible, add details to your website. If you choose to work with another business, you can benefit from cross-promotion across their channels too with both parties able to shout about your innovative partnership.
Speak to regular customers and tell them about the new service. Signage in your premises can be displayed letting regulars know they can now order takeout from you. Research into groups and local media who may be able to help share news of your new mobile Order & Pay solution and publicise your new menu.
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Why not have a friendly chat with our expert team who can guide you through various ideas on how best to adapt and get you up-and-running, without having to pay any set up or subscription fees.