COVID-19 and Off-Premise Service
Learnings from a Pandemic on How to Leverage Off-Premise Service
As though someone flipped a switch, a wave of restaurant closures swept the country and the globe following the outbreak of COVID-19. With doors closed and windows shuttered, businesses looked to innovation not through inspiration, but necessity. Off-premise service quickly emerged as a solution for restaurants.
Factors to Consider for Off-Premise Service
Off-premise service may sound simple at first. Especially for full-service establishments, without a dining room to worry about you’re no longer factoring in a host or hostess, wait staff, table bussers, or pressure to turn tables to maximize your profit potential.
However, there is a new host of factors to consider in how you get your food to the kitchen, then to the customer.
Even before the pandemic hit, restaurants were starting to embrace a transformation due to the growth of online ordering, which increased 23 percent annually from 2013 to 2018¹.
Is your restaurant equipped with online ordering so customers can place orders digitally, directly updating your point of sale (POS) and kitchen? If you implement online ordering, will you choose an in-house solution, requiring more staff and logistical planning? Or will you integrate with a third-party service, which can help with a premium guest experience but will also take a percentage of your earnings on every order?
“We are seeing many rush to update their POS systems to help process online orders,” says Chris Lybeer, CSO at Revel Systems. “Some are working with third-party delivery services. For our part, Revel is further developing our POS software with updates to help all restaurants with curbside and home delivery, and adding variations such as driver fleet management and contactless payments that, for many, weren’t previously part of the digital landscape.”
Often included hand-in-hand with online ordering, delivery management is an important operational consideration, too. Once your kitchen receives and fires customer orders, you’ve got to find a way to deliver the final product.
Similar to online ordering, you can choose between in-house or integrated third-party options for delivery management. Ultimately the decision will come down to customer experience, your bandwidth for payroll and operations management, and of course, cost.
Whatever solution is best for your priorities, there are a few factors you can provide to ensure a top delivery service:
- Driver route optimization
- Order tracking and timing updates for customers
- Integrated analytics on deliveries with your POS
These factors will help you deliver on an exceptional delivery service.
Take-Out & Order Pick-Up
Not every restaurant has a curb for actual curbside pick-up. Especially as consumer expectations demand convenient, socially distant solutions for picking up their orders, you’ll want to consider the organization and resources necessary to facilitate quick, easy, and safe pick-ups.
Another piece of the equation for pick-ups is customer communication. SMS texting is a great way to update customers on their order status before they ever reach your location to collect their order. For customers who arrive early, will you have available hand sanitizer or floor decals to help people maintain the recommended 6-foot distance from one another?
If you plan to offer on-site payment options, you may also want to consider contactless payment options. Look to options like ApplePay, and styluses for your staff to minimize direct contact with POS screens.
Especially if you’re experiencing lower order volume and working with a leaner staff, you’ll want to consider options for off-premise menu innovation as well. Streamline your menu options to maximize your resources and profits. This can go a long way for the success of your off-premise service. Here are some questions to consider as you review your off-premise menu:
- Does it travel well for delivery orders?
- What is the shelf life for the ingredients?
- Is this a popular dish with my regular customers?
- How long does it take to prepare?
Longtime Revel client Curry Up Now offers a few menu items that fit the bill for optimal off-premise delivery. “The burrito stays hot for a long period of time and is easy to eat on the run,” says Akash Kapoor, founder and CEO of the Indian fast casual. Focusing on menu items that are portable and naturally hold their heat has been key in the restaurant’s off-premise success.
Uncertain Times Call for Diverse Dining Options
Even as pandemic-related restrictions lift and restaurants begin to navigate reopening patios and dining rooms, it’s very difficult to anticipate long-term changes in customer behavior and expectations. A recent QSR Magazine article on new opportunity for restaurants inspired by Coronavirus highlights that—despite diners’ spontaneous decision-making and general unpredictability—many of them will stick to COVID-19 adjustments, like avoiding crowds.
Restaurants still have a murky future and an uphill climb facing them as pandemic conditions continue to develop. Reliable trends and forecasts simply aren’t available for this environment. Diversifying your service offerings to include on-site and off-site dining can help your business deftly roll with the tide.
Maximize Your Off-Premise Service With Revel
Are you looking for ways to leverage off-premise service at your restaurant? Revel’s iPad POS offers many customizable options for the different factors you’ll want to consider. Contact us today to see how our innovative POS platform can help you succeed with off-premise service.