Takeout and Delivery Best Practices: Getting Started and Set Up

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Takeout and Delivery Best Practices: Getting Started and Set Up

How to set up and start your delivery and takeout business on the right foot…and fast.

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that the COVID-19 crisis seems custom made to slam the brakes on the restaurant and hospitality industries. A vast majority of restaurants are set up for dine-in to drive revenue and a small side business (if any) in takeout and delivery is only the cherry on top. But when your dine-in business vanishes entirely over the course of a weekend, how are you supposed to adapt and survive?

We recommend starting here. KU is a company that has been built to streamline and grow success in takeout and delivery, and we want to help restaurateurs and operators across the country — of all models, cuisines, and sizes — to figure this out and make it through to the other side.

Here you’ll find steps to take to sign up for online ordering, prepare your menu, and set up your restaurant to more efficiently serve pick-ups. We also have marketing best practices, a state-by-state COVID-19 regulation tracker, and a restaurant employee resource page. But it’s not a comprehensive list! If you have any questions you’d like to see addressed or best practices to contribute, you can reach us here.

All right, let’s get moving:

Set up your restaurant & pick-up station

1. Consider setting up tables right at the front door to expedite pick-ups and keep your restaurant space clean.

    • One table to stack order bags
    • The main table at the door w/ a computer or kiosk and your register to take or check off orders
      • Run a power strip here for your third-party ordering tablets
    • Another table for to-go ware, condiments

2. Equip your customer facing employees with gloves and use furniture to create a barrier between your staff and the consumer. (We also strongly recommend having sani-buckets out front for your team to use as needed to keep surfaces clean, etc).

3. Throw in something extra — bread, a small dessert, a gift certificate, a roll of TP (for real). It’ll be appreciated.

Thank you bags w/ a note & cookies. Any extra treat or thought you can spare for your customers will be appreciated.

4. Communicate your new operations with signage.

    • Make sure people know A) that you’re still open, and B) how to order.
    • Have a public facing message covering the steps you’re taking to keep your kitchen and restaurant sanitized and your employees safe.
    • If you’re in a high foot traffic location, have a sign making it clear when you’re open and how people can order — especially if they now must order ahead for pick-up.
    • At this point, about a week into dining room closures and stay-at-home orders, people will be starting to settle enough into the new temporary normal to appreciate a bit of lightheartedness.
    • Birdies in LA branded their front window with #socialdistancing and added “Please stand here” circles 6 ft apart inside to help people keep an appropriate distance apart.

Set up online ordering and delivery channels

1.  Use ChowNow &/or other quick resources to launch direct online ordering for pickup.

    • Eat.News is an excellent resource to get going online.

2. Launch third-party delivery.

    • We highly recommend signing up for two or more delivery providers, so you’re not limited to one marketplace of customers or one delivery experience. If you have time, ask other local restaurants which they use and what their experience has been with the various companies; each delivery company functions better in some areas than others depending on how many restaurants they have signed up and the number of drivers they have working in the area.
    • Grubhub
      • Deferral of marketing commission fees for eligible independent restaurants.
      • Sign up
    • DoorDash
      • 30 day free trial: i.e. no commission fees.
      • Sign up
    • Postmates
      • Emergency waiver on signup fees.
      • Sign up
    • Uber Eats
      • Waiving customer delivery fees from local, independent restaurants. Enabling daily payouts (vs usual monthly payouts).
      • Sign up
    • Read this article for the full explanation of each third-party provider’s sign-up deals.

3. Direct your customers to these new platforms through your website and social media.

    • Offer a first-time-order discount to drive initial traffic

Prepare your packaging

1. Tape or staple your bags and beverages shut, even if the items inside are already sealed. This will reassure the customer of the safety of the food (especially now).

2. Clearly label any items with modifiers, especially modifiers due to dietary restrictions like gluten-free, vegetarian, nut-free, etc.

    • You can do this in marker right on each individual box, or on a post-it note, or on tape — as long as every person who ordered knows which food is theirs.

Prepare your to-go menu

1. Shrink the menu.

    • Cut out menu items that take up individual prep time and that aren’t multi-purpose, top sellers, or high margin.

2. Put together family meals/dinners/combos.

    • Build a short menu of bulk, balanced-meal items for groups of 2 and 4
      • Shareable entree + appetizer or salad + dessert add-on
      • Or, selection of 2-3 entrees + shareable appetizer or salad + dessert add-on
      • Add-on: Pair it with a bottle of wine (if allowed in your area)
    • Example 1
    • Example 2

3. Launch a “market” menu. Your restaurant suppliers are overstocked with bulk items, grocery stores are slammed — set up a menu to sell items that are constantly sold out: bread, milk, meats, vegetables.

A grocery or market menu helps you get customers what they need (and keeps your suppliers going, too).

4. Prepare take & bake or cook at home items (pizzas, pastas).

    • Par-cook flatbreads, pizzas & pastas (probably not fish or meat) to finish & serve at home.

5. If your state is allowing it, deliver wine, beer, and/or cocktails.

    • Adding an alcohol to go menu (check your state guidelines and announcements first!)
      • New York and California are currently allowing alcohol pickup and  delivery from restaurants, with conditions.
      • We recommend preparing a selection of pre-batched cocktails that you can send out at various serving sizes or in full bottles.
        • If like in CA you need a “sealed container” for the drink to leave your establishment, Ball jars at 4, 8, and 16 oz are easy to find at your local restaurant supply store or for order at the link below. Use a label or sticker to “tamper-proof” the seal.

Keep up to date on whether your state allows alcohol delivery during this time. But if so, it can be a game-changer.

6. Example to-go menus:


If that was helpful, you should check out our marketing best practices here!

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