Most foodservice operators have pivoted from their usual revenue streams to balance the ups and downs of the last year. Takeout has been a lifeline for many operators. Some just dabbled in it before but are now realizing the added new sales and opportunities it may offer.
But pivoting, while supplementing revenue, can also add unforeseen costs. To stand out from the crowd and create a successful takeout service, you have to do it right. Brand Points PLUS (BP+) is here to help.
Kristen Storer and Michelle DaSilva are responsible for the national sales and marketing strategy for Greenbridge Foodservice, representing 12,500 independent restaurant operators. They kindly shared their insights, knowledge and tips on how to strategically use the BP+ program to build a successful takeout service.
Keys to a successful takeout service:
- The Right Menu
- The Space
- Easy Ordering
- Proper Packaging
The Right Menu
“Adjust, remove and add to build the best takeout menu. Winners from your dining room might not translate well to a 30-minute (or more) transit time. Plan a menu that is takeout worthy,” advises Kristen Storer.
Whether delivered or picked up, all food in your restaurant is now considered takeout, so the quality must be there to earn a returning customer.
Time, temperature, taste, texture and visual appeal must all be considered. The right product or ingredient can make a big difference in customer satisfaction.
“Vendors have a vested interest in operators’ success,” says Storer. “Cavendish, for example, has developed potato products and onion rings meant to hold their quality and texture specifically for takeout.”
Build a menu that uses products and ingredients within the BP+ program. With more than 75 nationally recognized and trusted vendors in the program, it’s simple to make strategic choices to add value to products that operators are already purchasing.
Every product in the program will earn points. Storer says to remember to check out the bi-monthly promotions to increase your point balance more quickly.
Create a takeout menu with BP+ vendors and their products in mind and reap the rewards.
Making do will only work for the short term. As the “short term” becomes longer term, and if you want to continue successfully, your takeout space might need some adjustments – takeout counter, pickup area, retail space addition, new signage and appropriate lighting.
“Operators have been required to pivot their operations. Takeout, for example, has added costs like packaging and equipment – large and small. Why not use points to make your takeout service more successful?” asks Michelle DaSilva.
“The program is completely automatic. Operators don’t need to do any work,” she adds. “Just redeem their points for rewards.”
Although you can use your rewards any way you wish – from personal items to gifts for your valued employees – why not use them to help your takeout business?
- Display fridges and freezers for storing and to entice customers during pickup. Having as many menu items as possible (and think beyond to retail only items) prepackaged and ready to grab can save valuable time (and steps) and hopefully increase cheque size.
- Add signage for clarity. Chalkboards, whiteboards, a bigger (brighter) open sign, direction decals, tent boards or whatever you need to ensure customers clearly understand your business, your offerings and ways to stay safe.
- Increase lighting to brighten things up. Lighting, the proper type and location, can make a huge impact on customers. The ambience you established in the past for your dining room might not be suitable for pickup from customers (and delivery drivers) to do business effectively.
“Is the menu accessible? On a website? An app? Are the images of the food tasty-looking and entice the customer to place an order?” DaSilva suggests operators should ask themselves these questions.
The reality is that a paper menu isn’t going to cut it for these times. And as restaurants begin to reopen more widely, more operators are going completely digital. Ensure your online presence is clear, concise, true to your brand and continually updated.
The takeout menu should include: how to order, how to pick up/receive orders, your retail operation menu, and, importantly, details on how your business and staff are operating safely. Your customers want to know everything, especially now. Don’t make them have to think twice – they have a lot going on, too.
Once your food leaves the building, its quality is at the mercy of the package.
“Choice of packaging should depend on the menu item and not based on a standard takeout package that operators have always used,” says DaSilva.
Storer agrees, “Operators should consider packaging choices to maintain quality like vented lids to keep crisp food crisp. Try out some of these innovative products. Your food and your customers will appreciate the effort.”
Retail items, over and above your takeout menu, deserve attention as well. Typically stored for longer periods of time and requiring visual appeal, the packaging might be out of your budget. Again, why not use BP+ rewards, such as a vacuum sealer and bags (a reward that keeps on giving), divided snack and meal boxes, reusable bowls or glass jars for soups and chilis, or even a printer for eye-catching labels.
Be practically perfect in every way possible. It’s easier to fix problems in-house, a little more difficult when both the customer and the food have left the building. From having a dedicated expeditor on each shift to double-check orders to a policy if an error does occur, you should offer your customers the same service they’d receive in your dining room.
Can BP+ help with service? Yes! Rewards can be used for an exclusive rolling table for expediting orders and tamper-proof stickers to give your customers peace of mind. “We want to help you. The BP+ vendors want to help you,” says Storer. “So, help yourself by choosing products that earn you BP. And take advantage of our service. Use the tools and resources we have compiled to help you and your business. Your success is important to us. We’re all in it together.”
About the Author
Cherie Thompson understands foodservice from field to fork. A B.Sc. in Agriculture and experience in quality control, food science, product development, recipe development/editing, customer service, and teaching as well as owning and operating two independent foodservice operations have given her a unique perspective on the food industry.