Much of the past year has brought about various challenges, but for restaurants that are built on in-person contact, the main challenge has been survival. With many forced to reduce seating capacities or close their dining rooms altogether, new and creative business models had to be built to get past the hurdles brought on by COVID-19. This has brought out some of the most creative business acclimation ever seen in the restaurant industry.
One of the most popular of these adaptations has been the implementation of a contactless pickup strategy. The premise of this strategy is pretty straightforward: a customer places their order and pays, arrives at the restaurant at the designated time, picks up their order, and departs. However, as effective as the contactless pickup strategy has been, delivery options have also seen an uptick, and there are supporting POS technologies that enable you to do both.
Build an Innovative Ordering and Delivery Strategy
The first thing you need to have in place is the ability to efficiently receive and process orders from customers not in your restaurant. Using phone calls to order takeout can often be slow, tedious, and prone to errors. Forward-thinking POS vendors have stepped up and added customizable, online web templates that integrate into the POS systems they offer. This mix ensures the correct filling of orders and frees up staff to focus on other tasks.
Delivery has traditionally been the go-to option in this space but adds some further considerations. Employing your own delivery drivers, though easier to coordinate, can add more costs than the revenue it generates. This can be attributed to increased employment costs, such as insurance premiums or mileage reimbursement. Outsourcing to services such as DoorDash is cost-effective, but you lose control of the product once it leaves your door, and scheduling can be a bit more complex.
Contactless pickup allows for the control of the product and delivery to remain firmly in your hands up until your product is in the customers’ hands. Delivery times and methods are established at the time of pickup, and the curbside manner in which the customers receive the delivery allows them to easily seek corrections to their order should something not appear right. Also, the staff does not have to be concerned with timing food prep with delivery timelines, allowing them to continue working without delays.
Introduce New Production Tasks for Repurposed Staff
Another big change for restaurants is keeping staff occupied, and therefore employed, despite dining room capacities being reduced or eliminated. This gets trickier when restaurant employees, who are relatively dependent on tips, are no longer in a position to receive them. An innovative POS system can help you find jobs for all of your staff, especially your customer-facing staff, ensuring that paychecks or hours lost are minimized during this time period.
Before you scratch your head, think of how a restaurant operates and how servers are used. Servers are meant to take orders, deliver ordered items to tables, and process payments. In a contactless pickup scenario, the way duties are performed will shift, but the core of what servers do will remain the same. What this means is that instead of serving tables, servers can be repurposed to coordinate and validate click-and-collect orders so that they remain highly accurate and are properly paid for.
The same can be accomplished with delivery services, with qualified staff serving as drivers. With strategic repurposing, the bustle of staff in your restaurant will not end, but merely shift from the dining room to the curb.
Keep Customer Safety and Expectations in Mind
In achieving a balance between contactless pickup and delivery, it is important to note the wants and needs of your customers. You may find competing preferences between your staff and customers, but if you can find a happy medium, it can significantly boost sales and your reputation.
Contactless curbside pickups will require a customer to leave their home and drive to your restaurant. Although this is the exact same drive they would make to dine in, the experience will be completely different. If, however, you make the ordering and pickup process run as smoothly as possible, you will get more buy-in for your contactless pickup services. You can keep a close eye on this by monitoring sales in a contactless-supporting POS software solution.
Customers will likely see delivery as their safest and most convenient choice. But as we noted earlier, it will add more to your cost of doing business. There is also the risk of drivers having to come back to the restaurant because the order was not right, or that the customer did not see your driver and was dissatisfied by the presence of a cold meal sitting on their porch. This also can be closely monitored using POS data analytics so that you can make the necessary changes to your contactless strategy.
Coordinating Contactless Pickup or Delivery Options Requires the Right Technology
Maintaining a balance between safety and sales is a difficult challenge that is impacting a vast majority of restaurants. Achieving this balance requires that you develop a concise contactless strategy that takes into account curbside pickup and delivery options. Getting this right not only requires a keen business eye, but also a powerful technology solution that helps keep all of the moving pieces in your restaurant together.
In a period of change, talech has a number of POS solutions that can help your business adjust operations smoothly. From reaching new audiences to engaging with your existing customers more often, we give you the tools to adapt quickly and with confidence.
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