The sudden switch brought on by COVID-19 to takeout and delivery has been jarring for many restaurants, to say the least. But Kitchen United is a company that has been built to streamline and grow success in these arenas, 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. A large part of the transition to takeout and delivery is embracing the technological resources available to all of us right now, and using them effectively in a 5-step process:
- Finding your existing customers, through Resy, Open Table, your email list, or social channels.
- Reaching new customers and keeping them as your own, particularly through third-party delivery apps.
- Taking orders directly through platforms like Chow Now, Toast, or Olo (for enterprise brands).
- Preparing your restaurant’s space for pick-up.
- Promoting online ordering to your customers.
One of the most common missteps we see when restaurants go digital is mistakenly assuming that once they set up online ordering, the rest takes care of itself. While that is one crucial step, it is only one component. In our “How to Set Up & Promote Online Ordering During COVID-19” webinar, Kitchen United CEO Jim Collins discusses best practices and tips to jumpstart online ordering with Mitch Collins, Director of Corporate Marketing, and Elizabeth Villa, Director of Digital Strategy. Going digital in the midst of an industry shake up may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a little planning, you can be up and running in no time.
The best place to start is to think about all the ways you have access to communicate with your customers and potential customers–just as you would with dine-in experiences–and optimize those. Your dining room may be closed, but you can still reach your audience in creative ways. Here’s how to capitalize on both your physical and new digital storefronts:
Use attention-grabbing signage. Whether it’s A-frames, banners, or any other type of signage that your city allows in your area, let people driving and walking by know two basic pieces of information: that you’re open for business and how to order.
Make sure your digital listings are accurate and actionable. Clear, actionable digital listings on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Instagram are the backbone of your business during this time. Aside from delivery marketplaces, Google and Yelp are the go-to resources online for most people trying to find out which restaurants nearby are open. Make sure all of these digital listings have updated business hours and menu links for easy ordering. Don’t assume everyone knows how to order online–be clear with your instructions and eliminate any friction from the ordering process.
PACKAGING AND COLLATERAL
When it comes to takeout only, your order bags are prime real estate for communicating directly with your customers. You may not be interacting with your customers in the same way that you did when your dining room was open, but you can still deliver the experience that they know and love through your packaging and collateral. This can be as simple as adding a printed card or sticker to your bag to brand otherwise generic packaging, “handled with care” stickers, reheating instructions, incentives to come back, or other thoughtful touches.
Keep them coming back. Stay top of mind by communicating regular updates and revisiting your key messages regularly. You can do that by:
- Creating a steady drip of interesting information to share. Posting time-sensitive opportunities like nightly or weekly specials which can spark interest, urgency, and FOMO, and drive customers to order.
- Making sure your messaging really connects with your community. Be direct and transparent about what you want your customers to do and how you need their support and business during this time. You’ll also want to let them know how you’re adding value and helping them navigate this new way of life. For instance, remind them that family style meals offer value and convenience to your customers at home with their kids.
- Establish a regular cadence with your social media posts and emails. Whether you choose to send seven emails per week or just two, find what works best for you and allows you to be consistent.