Curbside pickup is a great new revenue stream for restaurants that want to capitalize on the off-premises dining trend. According to the Principal Financial Group’s annual Financial Well Being Index, reported by Marketwatch, restaurant meals are “the number one thing that Americans spend their money on.” But that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to eat at the restaurant, as 48 percent of dinner meals bought from restaurants were purchased as take-out to be eaten at home, said research firm The NPD Group.
For smaller restaurants with only a few tables, it can be difficult to increase profits without adding capacity, turning tables faster, or extending the hours your eatery is open. However, you need to spend money to make money—and all these options will cost you. Instead of overhauling your entire operation to increase revenue, consider implementing curbside pickup to add convenience for customers and enhance your take-out business.
Thinking of trying curbside pickup? Make sure you’re set up for success with these tips:
- Planning: Do you have the right layout for a curbside operation? The parking spaces for curbside pickup should be near a window or have a camera and monitor installed so you can monitor when customers arrive. Whether they’re dining in or taking out, people want a high-quality experience, so your menu has items on it that may not travel well, create a curbside pickup menu that will guarantee a great dining experience.
- Parking: The point of curbside pickup is added convenience, so don’t make people wait longer then necessary. Designate several spaces for curbside pickup and post a sign on each so people know they’re reserved. This will also help advertise the service when customers walk by. Designated spaces mean staff will be able to locate cars quickly and easily as soon as they pull in.
- Staffing: Asking staff serving on-premises diners to also cover the curbside pickup orders is a recipe for disaster, so make sure that you’ve got the manpower to keep up with the order and pickup flow. Designate personnel to work the curbside pickup station so they can take the orders, facilitate their preparation, pack them and watch for customers’ arrival.
- Packaging: You give up control over the order as soon as it’s handed to the customer, so make sure it’s packed properly. Do a few test runs to ensure delivery packaging is up to the task and won’t leak, break or spill. Take-out packaging that is printed with your restaurant’s logo, marketing messages and contact info gives orders a professional appearance and also advertises your business.
- Efficiency: Curbside pickup should be as fast as possible, so customers can go home and enjoy their meals. It’s a waste of time to have your staff running back and forth to provide service, so double check curbside pickup orders before they leave the kitchen and make sure they are packed with plates, napkins and utensils. The staff person working the curbside station should always approach the car with the correct order, ample change, and a credit card reader, so the entire transaction can be completed in a single trip. To get them on their way even more quickly, invest in a tablet with an integrated EMV reader and a mobile receipt printer. In one trip to the customer’s car, you can deliver their pickup order, take their payment, and print the receipt right at their car window.
Curbside pickup is a great way to boost revenues without having to drastically alter your restaurant. With planning and proper staffing, your business can operate curbside pickup efficiently and provide great experiences that will keep customers driving back for more.