For restaurants suffering from a decline in same-store sales and rising food costs, providing a takeout service is a great opportunity to increase revenue. Since you already have the staff, the recipes, the kitchen space, and customers, establishing a takeout service can add an additional revenue stream without significantly raising your standard cost of operation.
In a previous article we provided tips on creating a takeout menu for your restaurant. Before you begin to market your to-go services, make sure your takeout and delivery operations are well organized by creating space and materials ready for your to-go business, and decide on an ordering method.
Whatever ordering method you use, make sure you save all customer information in your marketing database so you can use it in your direct marketing campaign. You can also store purchasing information so you can tailor your direct marketing promotions to customers. The more methods for ordering you offer, the more information you will be able to record in your database.
There are a wide variety of options for ordering take-out food. Food Service Warehouse, a company that supplies foodservice equipment and supplies, points out the following most common methods:
In 2007, about 10 percent of all restaurant orders are made over the phone. Although this statistic appears small, the telephone is still the most common method of placing take-out and delivery orders. When taking delivery or takeout orders on the phone, be sure to reserve the customer’s contact info, including address and email, in your database for future direct marketing promotions.
According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant websites are typically visited by 48% of adults 3, and about 13 percent of consumers have used the internet to place an order for take-out or delivery. This is convenient for people placing large orders, and modern POS systems can often handle online orders with ease. With an electronic POS system, it is easy to build a marketing database, since all the customers’ contact information can be sent directly from the online form to the database. When customers order online, make sure to prompt them for an email if they would like to receive special offers.
Many restaurants are moving beyond traditional telephone orders. Papa John’s Pizza, for instance, is now equipped to receive SMS or text message orders from personal cell phones or devices. For the young adult and teenage market, text message ordering is a fast and convenient way to order food. Advances in ordering technology can provide greater convenience and speed for hungry customers. Several quick-service chains, including Papa Johns and Subway, have added the option of text messaging to their ordering processes. If you take orders via text message, record customers’ cell phone numbers in your database, since customers who order through text message may respond well to a future text message marketing campaign.
While drive-thrus are traditionally associated with fast-food chains, many independent quick-service restaurants, especially ice-cream shops, coffee joints and sandwich restaurants, are taking advantage of this popular ordering method.
The faster your take-out service, the more likely you are to find customers walking in for to-go orders. Try to accommodate your walk-in guests with speedy, friendly take-out services.
Food Service Warehouse also provides some great tips on marketing a takeout operation:
Takeout and delivery menus
Make sure your takeout menu only includes items that are easily transportable. Print an abundance of takeout and delivery menus and distribute them around town. Good places to put them include hotel lobbies, convention and welcome centers, the chamber of commerce and resorts or spas. You can also deliver them door-by-door in your trading area and give them to dine-in customers to take home with them.
Your to-go containers and bags should make it easy to store and reheat the food. Furthermore, the packaging should remind customers of your business. Consider printing delivery bags and takeout containers with your restaurant logo, slogan or a design that fits well with your restaurant’s creative platform.
About half of consumers check out restaurant websites. It is essential that you market your to-go services on your website, whether or not you offer online ordering. Many new or repeat customers may not have a takeout or delivery menu, and they will likely go to your website to look for one before ordering.
Flyers and personal selling
One of the best ways to get takeout business is simply to distribute flyers or takeout menus throughout the neighborhood. You should also go to any nearby businesses or factories and distribute your takeout menu or post it on the bulletin board. You could even consider speaking to the HR departments of companies in your trading area to try to set up delivery for a company party.
Phone book or newspaper
Advertising in the phone book can bring a sizable return on investment, especially if you are hoping to attract tourists. Make sure your ad mentions your takeout or delivery services, and with a full-page ad, you could even include your takeout menu. Newspaper ads offer another form of paid advertising that could inform a broad audience of your takeout and delivery options.
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