As the UK prepares for continued restrictions and lockdowns, restaurants are having to close their doors again, with only those offering takeaway and delivery remaining open. It has never been more important to consider a delivery service model introduction, with uncertainty and reduced restaurant capacity being ongoing concerns for restaurant owners.
In fact, COVID-19 has resulted in a reduction of the number of seated guests by up to 50% in many areas, which is likely to be the case even after restaurants are able to reopen. By offering home delivery and takeaway, restaurant owners are able to meet customers’ expectations, boost business and continue working – growing their reputation in local areas throughout any lockdowns.
The challenge of delivery service model introduction
For many restaurants, a delivery service model introduction is an unfamiliar and daunting task. Many businesses that would never have previously considered offering delivery are now given no option but to implement this. The great news is that restaurants that are able to offer a safe and hassle-free delivery service model will be able to grow their business and create a loyal customer base.
- Communicate with customers
It’s essential to put your customers’ minds at ease and let them know that you are still operating. Communicate your delivery options, also outlining safety and sanitisation measures. By doing this, you are able to reassure customers that you will deliver their food in a COVID-safe way.
Shout about your delivery hand-off procedures, use of gloves, masks, packaging and anything else that you think your customers will want to know. This can be done through many channels, including:
- Social media
- Printed marketing materials
- Restaurant windows
- Reconsider your menu
Not all food works well for delivery. Consider redesigning your delivery menu to feature dishes that travel well, can be refrigerated and heated without impacting the quality of the food. This will work to improve customer satisfaction, as well as taking pressure off the kitchen staff due to a lower number of dishes. Deliveroo say that they see 80-90% of orders concentrated on less than half of menu items, showing that having a well-thought-out menu can be more effective than a wide-ranging one.
- Extend opening hours
Consider adjusting opening hours to focus on peak times, giving you the rest of the day to prepare. This will also give you plenty of time to carry out cleaning procedures and maximise efficiency ahead of peak hours.
- Thank your customers
Take the time to thank customers for their loyalty in these tough times. Use this as an opportunity to reiterate any safety measures you took to deliver their food. Remind customers that they can rely on you for high-quality food and reliable service.
- Give promotional codes
Many people are turning to food delivery as a treat. If you’re able to provide a positive experience, they’re likely to return, particularly if they are incentivised to eat with you again. It can be beneficial to offer promotional codes for people’s next order, turning one-off orders into regular customers.
- Third-party delivery services
There are plenty of third-party delivery service partners such as Deliveroo, Uber Eats and JustEat. These well-known platforms allow restaurants to reach a large audience. It can help to create a continuous stream of business, putting your restaurant in front of more potential customers. Make sure you are aware of any service fees that third-party delivery services charge, as these can be as high as 30%, eating significantly into profit margins.
- In-house delivery
Many restaurants are choosing to keep their delivery service model introduction in-house to avoid costly service fees. In this case, it is essential to detail your ordering, pick up and delivery procedures so customers are confident that their food will be delivered in a hygienic way.
Contactless delivery should be implemented, allowing for people to pay and receive their food with minimal contact. There are many ways to do this, such as leaving the food at the door and texting to inform the customer that their food has arrived.
You should also be open about the cost of delivery, adjusting menu prices to include this wherever possible. By being transparent about this, customers will feel valued and are more likely to return.
It can also be worth taking note of what many of the most popular restaurants and third-party delivery services do, using this as inspiration for your in-house delivery process.
Delivery has never been more important in the world of hospitality. In fact, it could make or break businesses over the coming months. While it may require an initial investment and a restructure to existing processes, implementing functional delivery and takeaway services, as well as hygienic food preparation is the key to success as we head towards 2021.
Now is the time to decide on the best method of offering delivery, whether it’s carried out in-house or through a third-party delivery partner. Then, it’s time to promote the great work you’re doing and deliver a service that keeps customers coming back.
The team at Modern Hospitality wishes all restaurants the best of luck over the coming weeks!
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing and is very passionate about the hospitality industry.