One of the fastest-growing revenue segments in family, casual-theme and midscale restaurants nationwide is carryout, to-go and curbside delivery (where you phone in your order and the meal is brought to you in the car). It has taken its place alongside traditional daypart segments like breakfast, lunch, dinner and PM Snack as a serious and significant revenue-generator.
The beauty of well-managed takeout/curbside business is threefold:
- you’re increasing revenue and market share with minimum cost impact on your staff and physical plant,
- your customers are using their dining room instead of yours, an obvious benefit on busy nights,
- you’re extending your brand message into the guest’s tabletops and refrigerators
Here’s the basics of an effective takeout/curbside program:
- Food safety is job one. How quickly should your packaged-to-go leftovers be refrigerated? How long are they safe in the to-go packaging and typical consumer’s fridge? These considerations should be clearly detailed and communicated in writing along with re-heating instructions, if appropriate, in or on the packaging.
- Put your aces in their places. Only friendly, well-trained people should be answering the phone for takeout/carside orders. And don’t forget that suggestive selling over the phone is as important as it is tableside.
- Show enthusiasm. Be happy to see takeout guests. How many times have you ordered take-out in a restaurant only to be pointed to a surly bartender or stressed server who sees you as a no-tip interruption rather than a loyal guest generating sales beyond your four walls? When a guest tells a Greeter they want to order food to go, that Greeter should lead and politely introduce the guest to the server or bartender who will be taking the order. That order-taker should be pleasant and selling extras like dessert, too. The customer is our job, never an “interruption” of it.
- Make sure the order is correct. You’ve got basically one shot to make it right. Read back the order over the phone, slowly, review the packing slip one more time before dropping it in the bag, and verbally review the bag’s contents with the guest as you hand it over.
By Jim Sullivan