The pandemic resulted in the upending of the Hospitality Industry, radically changing the way business was conducted. The changes that came with this “new normal” resulted in an unexpected opportunity to expand online sales and delivery options. We’ll cover how to increase delivery sales in restaurants, and touch on some of the types of food that are best for delivery and takeout.
Which Online Sales and Delivery Service is Right for Me?
These online order and delivery services essentially work the same way: Operators can load restaurant information and delivery or takeout menus to their sites, including beautiful pictures of completed dishes. Indicate the options available and the costs for each item, considering all of the labor and packaging expenses. When the customer orders a meal online through the vendor’s site, it shows up on your system. You prepare the order and the driver will arrive to pick it up and deliver it. As indicated, most have coupons, deals, and specials for the customers.
When deciding on the service to use, the absolute most important thing to consider is the number of delivery drivers or riders available in your area. It won’t do you any good to partner with a service but have no one to deliver them. The customer either pays online in advance or pays the driver. The payment goes to the third-party vendor and they distribute the restaurant’s percentage weekly or monthly depending on the service you select. If the consumer pays a discounted amount, the restaurant percentage of 60%-80% is based on that discounted amount.
More on food delivery platforms in the downloadable guide below.
What should be on the Takeout Menu?
Offer items that travel well, look good when opened, and can be reheated if needed. Resist adding every item on your restaurant menu to your delivery menu - include your best-sellers and frequently switch out a few “test” delivery specials to see which meals or dishes will appeal. Also consider swapping in seasonal specialties or seasonal alcohol, like canned cocktails or rose in warmer months, hot beverage offerings, and an array of bold, red wines in the colder months.
Invest in containers that will keep your food looking and tasting good. Purchase some containers or bags with the restaurant name or logo.
Online Delivery Specialty Promos And Meal Bundles
Consider selling some of your specialty dishes as frozen or partially cooked for the customer to finish preparing at home. If your Lasagna Primavera is famous around town, prepare and offer as a frozen dish at a discount - to make it more cost-effective, make it a meal for two. You may even consider creating a family meal bundle comprised of one of your best-selling menu items, paired with a few sides and an appetizer, which could be sold hot and ready or frozen. If you can deliver alcohol, sell your signature drink mixes, or even sell any housemade simple syrups or cocktail mixes as separate entities.
A Note On Cost Calculation And Delivery Fees
When pricing these items, don’t forget to calculate the products and labor used in preparation, as well as the containers you used to package any meals or beverages. Also consider the percentage a third-party vendor will take in commission, especially if you plan on using a few of the services at once. If you do not price your take-out dishes correctly, even if you increase delivery sales in your restaurant, you will lose money.
That said, using a digital third-party delivery service could be a matter of getting your restaurant name and brand out to a wider audience. Signing up with one or a few of the third-party providers allows your food to be distributed in new neighborhoods with future return customers. Adding your own takeout menus or cards printed with your number and social handles is always a marketing best practice, but leaving a note requesting a customer either pick up directly from the restaurant or call directly next time is a gentle reminder for them to support a small business they value. Because if there’s one bright side to the pandemic’s impact on the hospitality industry, it’s the consumer’s newfound awareness of the precarity of small restaurants and their reliance on direct patronage.
This has been a challenging year-plus for the Hospitality Industry, but if there’s one method that works, it’s experimenting, testing, and iterating. Ask your staff for ideas and be receptive to their input - after all, your FOH knows your customers. Be flexible and make adjustments as you go.