Due to the pandemic and restricted—or banned—indoor dining, there's been a significant uptick in online orders at restaurants across the country as people use an online order system like ChowNow, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats instead of dining in. More people are cooking at home than ever before and the burnout from being responsible for every meal is very real. It's not just the act of cooking that's driving people stir-crazy, it's also the piles of dishes that accompany every hot and cold meal. The bottom line is that ordering takeaway gives people a break and a touch of normalcy during this "unprecedented time."
Like an intuitive chef in the kitchen, the restaurant industry has had to pivot in order to accommodate demanding and ever-changing health measures for staff and patron safety, while also keeping their businesses up and running. Some restaurateurs working out of small restaurant spaces already did most of their business through restaurant online ordering software, but many others have had to adopt an entirely new system. Online ordering platforms like DoorDash, Grubhub, ChowNow, and Uber Eats are integral to a smooth takeout process. Food delivery services prevent a restaurant's own delivery team from getting overwhelmed and becoming inefficient. This results in faster delivery times and an overall positive ordering experience for customers, increasing a new customer's likelihood of ordering again.
Transporting food effectively from the vendor to the customer has proved to be another challenge that restaurant owners have had to address. The packaging of meals is pivotal to making online food delivery a success. Here are a few adaptations that have seen integration industry-wide that have boosted commission and ease in delivery orders for restaurants and cafes. Following the lead of many other businesses can give you and your restaurant partner valuable insight to ensure that your customer satisfaction stays in the five-star territory.
Adapting for overall change.
Gone are the days—for the most part—that customers will place phone orders. Online sales reign supreme. People prefer using mobile apps on their smartphones or ordering directly from a restaurant website or Facebook page. Facebook orders and mobile ordering ensures that customer's needs are clearly written out, substitutions and all. This increases their chances of having everything they truly want, since a phone call in a noisy kitchen might render accidental order omissions. It also frees up phone lines for other services that restaurant owners are offering, like pickup at delivery zones and customer support, like answering questions about using gift cards, coupons, discounts online, promotions, or new loyalty programs.
With so much emphasis on online orders, restaurants have needed a way to keep everything straight, so they don't accidentally miss when an order comes in. Each online order system is typically on its own tablet, so any given vendor could have three or more in order to support third-party platforms. This makes it difficult to track restaurant POS, when each order has to be entered into the overall restaurant POS system. This means all of your customer data is all over the place until you've manually taken care of inventory management. For restaurants of all sizes having access to all of those orders, including ones from their own website has been revolutionary.
Cuboh has allowed POS integration to be possible, so restaurants receive their incoming orders all in real time while paying a flat monthly fee. A monthly fee is certainly worth the seamless integration, so you and your employees don't miss a beat.
Keeping your meals intact.
The next step after you get your ordering system in hand is to ensure a satisfied customer base once their online food orders arrive. You want your menu items to look as much like their pictures on your website when unwrapped or unboxed as possible. Transit can be tough on a meal. You don't want to end up with a bad review, because a DoorDash biker accidentally spills your food everywhere.
With a greater volume of deliveries, and pressure on drivers to be speedy, there's a higher chance of spills. Lower that probability as much as possible by packaging your food well. You can do this by buying drink lids that fit securely and asking your staff to double-check that they've put them on tightly. If you're transporting something like a milkshake, put Saran Wrap around the whole cup, lid, and straw. That way if it tilts over, the contents won't go flying everywhere. Opt for more secure containers with tight lids instead of styrofoam boxes that are easily flipped and seem to come open of their own volition.
Ensuring a hot or cold meal.
There's nothing more disappointing than receiving food that's not the right temperature, because it took too long to make its way to your door. You can't control what happens to your food once it leaves your property, but you can elongate the temperature life of your deliveries. Pack your food in materials that provide insulation. Instead of a bag, consider having the order transported in a styrofoam outer shell. That way anything that should be cold will be cold and anything that should be hot will still be warm.
Cut back on delivery time.
It's also worth remembering that hungry customers may be more impatient than someone with a table reservation, so make sure that whether you're using a delivery platform or curbside pickup you have a system that cuts down on wait times. The last thing you need in the middle of a pandemic is negative reviews on popular platforms like Doordash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub.
Engage your customer base.
You can put a poll on your social media account and ask your patrons to vote on your new mode of food containment. The premise of posting a picture of how you package your meals on social media might seem strange at first, but it could ultimately be one of your most effective marketing campaigns. People like to feel like they're a part of the decision making at their favourite establishments. Also, customers who are wary of food delivery due to the virus will be able to see that containers are easy to sanitize without harming the food inside. A small change could get you big "likes."
If ever there was a time to embrace change, it's now. Ways of delivery that used to be efficient are no longer entirely effective. Make sure your restaurant's delivery and POS systems are up to date. Start thinking outside the box to bring customers food at home. Keep to your budget and reallocate money if you need to spend more on better food delivery containers. You might even find that your new system is better for your company post-pandemic.
Restaurants have been one of the hardest-hit industries—along with the live entertainment industry—since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like theatre, restaurants thrive off of having an actual audience to fill their seats, enjoy their culinary performance, dine, and leave satisfied to tell their friends and families. Both industries walk a fine line of profit, usually making barely enough to stay afloat under normal circumstances. If your restaurant has been feeling the loss of seeing your loyal customers in person, you're not alone.
The good news for restaurants is that online orders have supplied some means of cash flow, unlike theaters that sit completely dark. That's not to say the situation is in any way easy, but that there's hope to hold onto. Although pivoting into the world of delivery and pickup is a unique challenge, adopting an online order system that integrates mobile apps like ChowNow, Postmates, Doordash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats to streamline the takeout process for your restaurant will make work much more efficient. Last year, your restaurant and staff may not have needed delivery and analytics in one place, because you had less delivery orders. Now, it's a good option, because it means your orders won't get lost in the shuffle. That way you can still give excellent customer service even if it's done remotely.
POS system analytics give restaurant owners and their teams valuable insight into customer data, which is why it's important to have POS integration instead of all of the information being spread across several tablets. It's worth the monthly fee to know exactly where your business stands, so you can make the necessary decisions to ride out the pandemic.