How Your Restaurant Can Incorporate Curbside Pickup
When COVID-19 shut down operations across various economic sectors worldwide, the food and beverage industry had to get creative to stay afloat. As a result, more restaurants offered curbside pickup as a safe alternative to serving patrons within.
Curbside pickup entails customers notifying the restaurant of their arrival and an employee delivering their order directly to their vehicle. During the pandemic, this prevented patrons from entering the establishment and exposing themselves and others to germs.
Despite restaurants reopening amid vaccine rollouts, many consumers still prefer curbside pickup. According to the National Restaurant Association, 54% of American adults say takeout is essential to their lifestyles – it should be little surprise that this includes 72% of Millennials and 66% of Gen Z.
With all the hype surrounding curbside pickup, you might be interested in incorporating the service at your restaurant to improve customer satisfaction and convenience. Here are four ways you can approach this business model at your eatery.
Set Up a Curbside Pickup Station
Location and visibility are critical components of curbside pickup. You must establish a convenient location for staff to deliver orders to customers’ vehicles while ensuring curbside customers understand where they must park.
If your restaurant has its own lot, you can designate two or three spots for curbside pickup with signage. Otherwise, contact city officials for permission to add 10-minute parking spots in front of the restaurant.
Make sure to include signs or banners that point to the curbside pickup location. You want dine-in customers to refrain from parking in pickup-specific spots. Likewise, restaurant employees will have other work besides searching for the right vehicle in the parking lot.
Additionally, including a shade structure will protect your staff and customers from the elements. You can even match its colors to your brand to improve the outdoor aesthetics of your restaurant.
Of course, while many customers would prefer the convenience of door-to-vehicle delivery, you can always set up a cart inside for online orders.
Create a Pickup System
It’s necessary to have a system in place to ensure your restaurant’s curbside pickup service goes smoothly. Every step of planning matters, from how customers place their order to notifying the restaurant they’ve arrived. Additionally, a designated runner must bring curbside orders to customers’ cars.
Give the option of online ordering for curbside pickup through an app or the restaurant’s website. Ensure there’s a place for the customer to add their car’s model and make, including its color. This will make them easier to find when they arrive for pickup.
Once customers place an order, the online ordering system should send an email with instructions. Some restaurants prefer that customers call them directly when they get there or press a confirmation button in the email receipt to notify the establishment.
At the same time, you can integrate an ordering system that notifies the customer when their meal is ready.
Depending on the size of your restaurant, you may have enough staff to devote to curbside pickup orders. Most restaurants that incorporate curbside pickup use automated systems that notify cooks when a new order comes in.
Presentation matters, too. Granted, takeout orders get transported and food will shift in containers. Whether customers are dining in or taking out, you still want the meal to have a good appearance.
Consider using sustainable takeout packaging for curbside orders. More patrons look for ways to use less plastic to reduce their carbon footprint – there’s a space for the restaurant business to help them with this task.
Of course, recyclable or biodegradable packaging means higher costs. According to Morning Consult’s 2022 Sustainability Report for Food & Beverage, 42% of customers are willing to take on the added expenses with restaurants by paying more for meals. Another 36% feel they equally share a restaurant’s responsibility to reduce waste.
Train Restaurant Employees
A curbside pickup system is only effective with a well-trained staff handling orders. Before the pandemic, curbside service was likely unfamiliar to most restaurant workers. However, just because there’s little face-to-face interaction with patrons doesn’t mean they should forgo customer service and excellent quality.
Communication is critical between staff members, whether taking orders over the phone, preparing meals, or bringing curbside pickup orders to customers’ cars. Curbside pickup orders must be relayed to the appropriate employees immediately. Walkie-talkies or headsets can improve efficiency.
Curbside pickup staff should also be on the lookout for arrivals. Reviewing the orders to know which vehicle models and makes are coming will make service faster. That also means someone must always be on duty. Guests will want a short wait time for their curbside pickup order. If they feel they must leave their cars to check on their orders, it defeats the purpose of curbside service.
Advertise Your Restaurant’s Curbside Pickup
You must advertise your restaurant’s curbside pickup services if you want it to take off. Many people might not realize you offer it if they don’t see signs, banners, or online ads.
You should have already claimed your establishment on Google – if not, now is an excellent time to do so. Creating a Google My Business account is free, allowing customers to find your restaurant online easily. You should include the following information about your restaurant in your profile:
- Restaurant name
- Hours of operation
- Business website
- Phone number or other contact information
- Types of services your restaurant offers, such as dine-in, takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup
You can also advertise your curbside pickup service on your restaurant’s social media accounts. Upload regular posts reminding customers of your new takeout option. When enough customers see information about curbside pickup, they’ll share it with people they know. Word of mouth is a powerful and effective advertising method for the restaurant business.
Curbside Pickup Can Improve Your Restaurant Business
Restaurants with curbside pickup services appeal to many customers. By incorporating restaurant curbside pickup services, you can entice current and future customers to order from your establishment