Businesses and consumers everywhere are having to adjust to “new normals” in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. But even with social distancing and the implications of spending less time on the go and more time at home, consumers still want quality meals from their favorite restaurants. Food anxiety and concerns about grocery store shortages are also encouraging more consumers to reach out to their favorite dining spots for meals. Here are several reason why you should offer restaurant curbside pickup:
To follow many state guidelines, restaurants across the country have suspended dine-in operations leaving two options: carryout or delivery. Many restaurants now offer a modified version of carryout called curbside pickup, where customers can pick up their orders placed online, via mobile app, or over the phone right from the restaurant parking lot. Restaurant employees can either bring the order directly to the customer’s car, or orders can be placed on tables for pickup outside as a no-contact option. This minimal-contact option has significant benefits for both customers and restaurants. It helps restaurants stay afloat during the outbreak by bringing in sales until more regular activities resume.
Benefits During the Pandemic and Beyond
In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurant traffic declined by nearly 48% by mid-March. Despite the drop in traffic and sales initially, we are hearing more and more success stories of restaurants gaining business after implementing online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup services. These options help consumers maintain CDC guidelines on social distancing while still enjoying a meal from their favorite restaurant. Plus, these services are safer for employees as well as customers.
When the coronavirus threat dies down and activities return to normal, many customers will want to continue the conveniences offered during the pandemic. Restaurant curbside pickup can help busy families pick up meals to go when life is too hectic to sit down for a meal at a restaurant. Because of this, you might want to consider turning temporary pickup stations into a permanent fixture. Think of the poster-board signs that some restaurants set up; these makeshift pickup stations may serve an ongoing purpose.
Quick-service restaurants can also benefit from a program that allows customers to place an order ahead of time and have it brought out to their car when they arrive, providing another option besides the drive-thru. It’s perfect for the lunch rush, as well as for people who have short work breaks and are on the move. Curbside pickup will be an added tool in a restaurant’s arsenal long after the COVID-19 pandemic slows because it fulfills a primary customer desire of convenience. Hear from Mo Assi, owner of Crush Taco, how he was able to quickly shift to off-premises and thrive. View webinar recording now.
How to Maximize Restaurant Curbside Pickup Success
Once restaurants have implemented a curbside pickup solution, they should work toward increasing sales and profitability using this option. Just having it will keep your business going; taking full advantage will help you grow. Follow these tips to maximize success for your operation:
- Logistics: Create a plan and stick to it. Properly train employees so they know how the system works and the best way to ensure a smooth experience for your customers from order to meal completion. Review the process and take input from employees on how to boost efficiency and improve the customer experience.
- Food Packaging: How you package food makes all the difference for your customers. Hot foods need to be kept warm, and cold foods cold. Secure packaging is also important for safe transport as nobody wants spills in their car. Consider printers that print secure food labels to close packages and help keep them sealed, like those offered by HungerRush. As an added bonus for customers, include a coupon or loyalty reward that can be scanned as a QR code or entered into a mobile app/rewards program. This incentive encourages customers to use the service and keeps them coming back.
- Marketing: Spreading the word about your restaurant’s curbside pickup service is critical so that customers know the option exists. Restaurants with mobile apps can exploit this capability to send push notifications and in-app specials. Post the details on social media platforms, simultaneously building your brand by emphasizing your commitment to offering customers safe and convenient options. Leverage the power of your loyalty program integrated into your point of sale (POS) to send personalized messaging and promotions to those in your customer database. And on all marketing avenues, promote specialized offers to go along with curbside pickup when you first implement it. For example, offer“buy one get one” meal deals, or a free drink with a large pizza, which can be enough to get diners to try it out.
Align Tech to Streamline the Process
Now more than ever, it is essential that your restaurant technology should align to make it easier to implement and execute restaurant curbside pickup. Your online ordering platform, point of sale system, restaurant app, and loyalty program should all be integrated. Integration creates a streamlined operation from the kitchen to the customer’s table, ensuring happy customers and helping your restaurant build a loyal customer base that will come back time and time again. It’s also essential to ensure that your systems work well with third-party apps and delivery services, so that you can use them for support and still retain ownership of your customer data.
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Restaurant Curbside Pickup Means Crisis Survival and Future Profits
COVID-19 has changed the way restaurants operate. Now is the time to take advantage of restaurant curbside pickup as the benefits will last far beyond the pandemic. Technology is an ally to help you implement the options that will allow you to stay profitable despite these uncertain times. HungerRush is a leading provider of industry-specific solutions, including online ordering with curbside pickup functionality, tailored to the needs of your restaurant. To find out more about our integrated restaurant management system, request a demo today. You can also download our Restaurant Survival Guide, a free e-book with additional advice on getting through the crisis and coming back strong.