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Grow Your Takeout Business

< Coronavirus Response Kit

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Takeout service keeps restaurants afloat

With takeout as the only option for hundreds of thousands of restaurants during the pandemic, it's critical to get it right. Social distancing and heightened sanitation concerns place unique demands on restaurants at this time.

Whether you're tackling takeout for the first time or it has long been a staple of your business, there are several practical ways you can adapt your operations and offerings to suit the pandemic situation. From takeout templates to promo ideas, these tools will help you succeed with takeout.

Takeout Menu Essentials

First, of course, you'll need a takeout menu. It can be as simple as your dine-in menu with added contact info, or a fully custom takeout design. Whether you choose a traditional trifold or an interim solution, keep in mind these best practices for takeout menu design:

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Limited-item takeout solutions

With dine-in restrictions evolving so fast, and for unknown duration, a traditional trifold takeout menu may not be the best option for your business.

If takeout is a new initiative for you, be conservative about choosing items to offer for takeout. Packaging considerations and inherently long delays between kitchen and table will impact which of your items can deliver a quality dining experience. An unimpressive takeout experience will not win you any customer loyalty.

Even if you're a seasoned pro at takeout, you may have new pickup or payment options to promote, or supply chain issues that dictate that you offer only a subset of your normal menu at this time.

Consider crafting a special limited-item menu on a smaller, half-page paper size. This format is cost-effective to print front-and-back and drop into each carryout bag.

As with any takeout menu, be sure your business name, phone number or website, and physical address are featured prominently. Hours, service details (curbside pickup), and delivery partners are key information as well.

See more Lite Takeout Menus

Optimize your ordering process

Social distancing requires that you severely limit the number of people in your building at any one time. Organize an efficient ordering and pickup process to streamline the exchanges.

TIP: Post your ordering process on social media and your website.

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In-store pickup best practices

  • Have customers pre-pay
  • Get customer phone #
  • Text when food is ready
  • Prop your door open
  • Keep food in a closed paper bag
  • Include takeout menu in the bag
  • Have a pickup table or area
  • Post safety notice at pickup area
  • Leave hand sanitizer out
  • Post policies on social media

Safe pickup policies

During the pandemic, the main consideration for restaurants is how to handoff food to patrons without violating social distancing guidelines. Implementing some new practices will make this process more efficient and safe for everyone.

TIP: Wipe down screens, credit card machines, pens, door handles, counters after each use.

Orders should be fully packaged and labeled. No one should be touching the food after it leaves the kitchen. Setting your bags on a counter or shelf will let customers pick it up themselves.

Handoffs should be as efficient as possible. Pre-payments for orders eliminate the need to stand at the counter, exchange cash or credit cards, and touch a pen or payment screen. Quick pickups also limit the number of people in your store at any one time.

Protect your employees. Remind patrons to stay in the car and avoid hand-to-hand contact. Staffers who deliver food should wash their hands often.

Consult your local health department for additional guidance on strategies to safeguard your employees and the public.

Nailing this service reassures customers that you value their health and safety, and could win you a lot of repeat business from your customers as their options for restaurants dwindle.

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Curbside pickup best practices

Consider grab-and-go products

If you already have a section of your restaurant or cafe that has pre-packaged products to go, great! Keep that area well-stocked and consider adapting other menu offerings to grab-and-go as well.

TIP: Pre-package complete meals and promote them as a family dining special.

Any idea that helps people make healthy choices fast is going to be important during these uncertain times. Grab and Go Refrigerators or Open Air Display Coolers can be easily ordered online if this is a new area for you.

Delivery services

There has never been a more important time to offer delivery! If viable, you could provide your own delivery service. This eliminates food coming in contact with more people, and you can be in greater control of the sanitary practices. This can also help to keep more of your staff employed. If you go this route, don't forget to talk to your insurance company about adding them to the policy.

Safe delivery best practices

  • Call ahead to tell customers their food has arrived
  • Avoid doorbells, keypads, or knocking
  • Leave food at the door, preferably on a table or chair
  • No cash tips - if possible make everything prepay
  • Do not enter a business or home
  • Wait to leave until customers have received food

If you prefer to partner with a third party, the top delivery services include GrubHub, DoorDash, Caviar, and UberEats. Local services are likely available too. You may want to partner with more than one service as they can reach different audiences.

Key questions to ask:

You should view these services as an add-on to your internal takeout services. They can bring you incremental business, but as most charge a transaction fee or take a percentage of each sale, they can also bite into your margins.

Want to learn more about how third-party delivery services can help your restaurant? Check out our helpful guide.

See more Delivery Flyers

Coronavirus Health and Safety Considerations

Sanitation has become even more important for your restaurant. Keep thinking outside the box about how you can best transfer your in-store sanitation practices to other areas of your business like takeout and curbside:

Prioritize sanitation

See more Health Notices

Communicate your safety measures

Promoting your takeout service

Let customers know that you are open for business! Announce your takeout and/or delivery service through all mediums:

Communication is key during this time of uncertainty -- the more customers know what you are doing and how, the better they will feel about using your services.

Excellent resources for takeout and other messaging! Thank you!
— Suzanne of Red Martini Kitchen & Cocktails, Oregon

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Essential messages for your social media feed:

See our Social Media guide for more tips on maximizing your online marketing impact.

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