5 Ways Your Restaurant Can Overcome Off-Premise Dining Challenges

Off-premise dining is one of the shining results of the past several years in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Though some reports are showing this trend slowing just a bit as more people pack dining rooms, the reality is that off-premise dining strategies like delivery and takeout will continue to be a powerhouse of successful foodservice sales. And there’s data to back it up.

According to the DoorDash Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report, delivery orders are still an important part of consumer preference with 83 percent stating they order delivery as much or more than in the previous year and 86 percent reporting the same for takeout. Whether it’s pickup or delivery, there’s clearly demand for off-premise dining that isn’t slowing, even if more consumers are enjoying the dining room.

Creating a successful takeout or delivery program, on the other hand, can be challenging for operators. In today’s social and economic landscape (current concerns are most certainly attributable to both), operators are facing labor shortages, rising food costs, supply chain shortages, and the need to continue to drive demand with consumers who have more and more choices.

Here are five ways restaurants can help overcome some of these challenges while still meeting the demand for off-premise dining strategies:

1. Leverage What You Learned During Covid

As we mentioned, off-premise dining was one of the most positive aspects of all of foodservice during the Covid pandemic, and there were many lessons to be learned. In effect, the entire industry had to learn how to execute pickup and delivery foodservice operations in the span of a few short weeks and months. Today, restaurants can go back to those early days in March and April of 2020 and find inspiration. What was the top-selling item during those months? How did customers order? When were peak times for service? Also, what didn’t work? There are lessons there, as well. Talk to staff members who were around in the early phases of the pandemic, and use their insights for current day strategies.

2. Consider Pickup and Delivery When Crafting Your Menu

It’s a fact. There are simply some food items that are better for takeout and delivery than others. Some foods travel better. When developing current menu strategies, consider how those items might translate to takeout or delivery services. Menu selection should also reflect what worked in the past, as mentioned above. If fine dining items were popular two years ago, consider them for inclusion today, as well. Lastly, packing is important. Certain dishes can be impacted by the type of packaging used, so make sure both food and packaging work together.

3. Use Technology for Dining Strategies

There are great ways to enhance quality while also creating safer and more convenient service for customers. Pick Up Cabinets are a great way to preserve food quality while creating a seamless pickup process for customers, and while they were available in 2019, their usage skyrocketed over the last two years with much success. On the ordering side, there are POS systems that can integrate with a pick up cabinet and automate the ordering process, which relieves the strain on staff.

4. Offer Multiple Ordering Options

How we order our food has probably changed more in the last five years than what we’re eating. For starters, the last two years have seen the rebirth of the QR code. Many restaurants offer touchless menu viewing where customers can simply review options on their phones by scanning a tableside QR code. While this is great for dining in, there are multiple ordering options that impact off-premise dining, as well. From third-party delivery apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats to custom restaurant apps where consumers can place orders for both takeout and delivery, the key is to make the effort to accommodate the diner. There are so many ways to order from a restaurant these days, and customers aren’t just getting used to them. They’re expecting them.

5. Create Events and Promotions

The BOGO and half-priced menu items on certain nights of the week still work. So do direct mail coupons with promo codes. Operators looking to reach a wider customer base – and urge existing customers to order more – should consider creating events and promotions to grow revenue. Inflation is a real thing, and consumers are looking for any way they can to save a buck or two.

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Topics: Restaurants, Takeout & Delivery