Meals to go: The ABCs of takeout and delivery
So you've decided to convert your menu to take-out. In these uncertain times, it's vital to reassure your customers by providing them with all the information they need – and even more! – on the cleanliness measures you've adopted and the service you are offering.
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If you haven't already done so, promote the fact you are offering a take-out menu and the hours it will be available on the Web and though social media. If you have your customers' email addresses, send them a personal message announcing this service. Don't forget to tell them how they can order (phone, online or in person) and what delivery times they can expect.
To support your customers in this difficult time, you also need to address their concerns by implementing procedures that will reassure them. In addition to posting your menu online, spell out all the safety and cleanliness measures you've put in place to protect your customers and your staff.
For example, you can mention you are following the recommended hygiene practices for the pandemic and you've implemented special measures for meal preparation and for the hand-off of deliveries. You can also explain why a certain very popular dish is no longer available and how your prices have been established. The key is to be open and forthcoming.
Implement a rigorous pick-up procedure
The fear of being infected by coronavirus tends to keep people from going out to pick up food. That's why it's so important to reassure them that you are taking no chances.
• Favour online or telephone orders so that customers don't have to wait around.
• Reorganize your restaurant to facilitate entering and leaving.
• Cordon off space for a line-up clearly marking the distance between customers they are expected to maintain. When needed, a staff member at the door can limit the number of people inside.
• Clean touch surfaces regularly while wearing gloves.
• Provide your customers with hand sanitizer.
• Avoid payment in cash and encourage customers to use Tap & Go, contact-free or online payment.
Set up a delivery service
During a pandemic, helping people stay at home is a significant benefit. If possible, set up a delivery service and determine right from the start the coverage area you can handle while keeping delivery times reasonable and food quality high. You can also consider contracting delivery services like DoorDash, Uber Eats or Foodora.
It's always preferable to have customers pay in advance, online or by phone, to reduce the risk of contamination. If possible, give them an idea of how long their delivery will take. Also give them the opportunity to place their order in advance to reduce wait times.
Finally, when the delivery is close to destination, the delivery person should call or text the customer to tell them that their food will soon be left at their door, ensuring a contact-free delivery.
Go one step further
Add a note of thanks in your package to thank your customers for their support and trust in you. Remind them of the measures you’ve taken to protect them. And, if necessary, explain how to best reheat, serve and store their order.
Also invite them to order again. The best way is by phone so you can hear for yourself how satisfied they were with the food, but you can also send them an email or a text message. Why not make them a special offer on their next order while you’re at it?
Because, even with take-out orders, you need to provide your customers with an experience that’s a cut above, just as you do in your dining room.