As the food industry continues to get hit hard by COVID-19, many restaurants have had to pivot their business models seemingly overnight. Going from a solely or primarily dine-in establishment to pick-up and delivery may seem like a daunting task in the midst of a crisis, but as a company built to streamline and grow success in takeout and delivery, we’re doing all we can at Kitchen United to help restaurants navigate these unprecedented times.
In our last webinar hosted by Jim Collins, CEO of Kitchen United, he discussed how to optimize pick-up and delivery–fast. Joined by Larrah Palwak, Senior Director of Operations at Kitchen United, Matt Maroni, Director of Kitchen Design Implementation at Kitchen United, and Elizabeth Villa, Director of Digital Strategy at Kitchen United, they discussed the key ways to make the sudden transition as smooth as possible.
The main aspects to focus on are:
- Operations. Enhance or change the direction of your current operations to reflect what is needed now. This includes prioritizing the safety and sanitation of your teams, partners, vendors, and consumers, as well as reevaluating all aspects of your daily operations–from your operating hours to labor and deployment.
- FOH updates. Make the appropriate changes to your physical setup to adhere to social distancing guidelines and facilitate pick-up orders. Take care of your staff by giving them everything they need to maximize efficiency.
- Facilitate new to-go options. Offer curbside pick-up and use signage to clearly communicate how your customers can order. You can also try instituting internal delivery so that you have more control of the labor and experience.
- Kitchen adjustments. Logistically, this includes working in teams, scheduling time and stations to sanitize, and removing barriers to optimize the flow for the new volume of pick-up and delivery orders.
- Marketing efforts. Ramp up the way you communicate with your current audience, by finding easy ways to provide up-to-date information such as changes in operating hours, new menu items, or weekly specials in real time.
- Menu. Make the necessary updates to your dine-in menu for pick-up and delivery.
In these uncertain times, your menu is a great way to stay connected to your audience. As you streamline your offerings to meet the demands of pick-up and delivery, remember that your menu is also an opportunity to deliver what your community needs. Here are 10 key ways to update your menu for pick-up and delivery:
- Offer a limited menu. Start by scaling back to 6-8 menu items, cutting out dishes that take up individual prep time and aren’t multi-purpose. Focus on top sellers and high margins, and offer at least one dish that puts the customer in control like a build-your-own option.
- Think about your form factor. Most online orders are submitted through mobile apps, so take the user’s experience into consideration. When the form factor is small like a cell phone, having a limited menu actually increases sales.
- Offer comfort foods. In this current climate, people are reaching for comfort foods and feeling less adventurous. Your offerings should reflect those customer preferences.
- Focus on convenience. Dishes that are easy to reheat and require little prep are extremely popular right now, as are family-style meals because of their large portion sizes. And if you can package meals in one container, even better. Do your best to minimize the steps your customers need to take to enjoy a hot meal.
- Pay attention to price point. Offer what your customers are used to, but remember that most people are opting for lower priced items right now. We recommend keeping the value between $10-12, and avoiding prices increase on regular menu items for the time being.
- Don’t forget about drinks. If your state allows alcohol purchases, package cocktails and alcohol to go so that your customers can enjoy their favorite drinks even while your dining room is closed.
- Get creative. Consider frozen and CPG on signature sauces or customer favorites that you can easily produce in bulk. This is a great way to stay connected to your community while also meeting their needs.
- Work with your vendors. Before making any menu adjustments, it’s a good practice to check inventory levels with your vendors first.
- Add grocery store staples/pantry items. Think of restaurant bulk items that are hard to find in stores and make them easily available to the community. These items are not about profit margin, but more keeping your restaurant’s experience relevant to the community your serve.
Keep it simple. Stay connected with your audience and design a menu that offers what they want and need. You know your customers best, and you can use your menu to showcase that even while your dining room is closed.