It’s all well and good companies like us, QikServe, turning around and saying – there’s a crisis, you need to start using our online ordering solution and offer a collection or delivery service to your customers. The reality for you is more complex – your menu might not be designed to be taken away from the dining room, or your customers might be from a demographic not used to eating/drinking in this way.
So, rather than telling you why you should be using our technology, we’re going to focus here on how to pivot your food and operations to a takeout service.
Adapt your menu
If you predominantly serve food eaten in a restaurant then, chances are, not everything on the menu will travel well. Chips are notoriously difficult to transport and lose their crispiness due to steam in their packed container. Similarly, salad when put in with warm foods, wilt in the contained heat.
There’s no harm in streamlining your menu, removing challenging items, or adapting them so that they hold up better on the journey back to people’s homes. Pick things that stay hot and don’t cool too quickly, items that don’t need to be super crispy and which present well in packaging. Nothing turns a customer off more than unwrapping their food to find a limp, unappetising meal in a humid box.
Depending on what your licence allows, you might want to start selling bottles of alcohol – this will make up for any hit you take being unable to sell glasses. With pubs closed, it’s likely that customers will increase the amount they’d normally spend on buying alcohol in.
Consider your packaging
That humid box we mentioned, might also be the result of the container material. Polystyrene may be affordable, but it doesn’t keep high quality food, high quality. Invest in PET (Polyethylene) coated paper packaging (or the equivalent) and you’ll find customers more than willing to return and spend with you again.
Presentation in the packaging is important for the same reason. Don’t try to stuff everything into one box, separate the key elements of the meal to retain an appetising appearance.
Switch up your kitchen operations
During a lockdown, your operations will have to adapt to compensate for the change in service. Utilise staff as you prepare for an increase in your takeout and/or delivery service by getting them to help with food preparation in the kitchen.
If you’re expecting a dramatic increase in orders, you might want to move dinnerware out of the kitchen space to make a larger area for packaging lines.
Don’t forget, if you’re taking online orders, you’ll need power and Wi-Fi in the kitchen so staff can receive the orders on their tablet and so they can communication with customers through push notifications etc.
Prepare the collection area
How your customers collect their food will vary according to your premises – whether they’re small or large, have a carpark or are on main road – you need to consider what’s easiest and safest for everyone involved.
If you have adequate car parking, kerbside collection is an easy way to maintain social distancing. Using this, customers simply drive up at their allotted time, and a member of staff delivers food direct into the car boot – no contact needed.
If that isn’t an option, you might establish a collection zone by the front door or inside. The key is to manage the flow of customers. You can do this by offering limited order slots (easy to do with QikServe’s software). For instance, you might set the platform to only take one order every 5 minutes, this will stop everyone arriving at your door at once.
Depending on the capacity of your business, you can use this time to adopt a tactic made popular by some of the large restaurant chains during lockdown: ‘cook your own’ boxes. TGI Fridays has a Butcher’s Box of meat that can be delivered to customers and cooked at home, while Pizza Pilgrims offers a make your own pizza box. You might even offer out essentials for sale to people struggling to buy items in stores – chocolate, toilet rolls and hand sanitiser have proven popular in recent months.
If you are adapting your business to meet the challenge of COVID-19, QikServe is here to help. Whether your need marketing advice for your online ordering service, or advice on updating operations, drop us a line.