If the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that flexibility needs to be a key component of a business. Those who remain versatile and open to change are the ones who are managing to successfully overcome the sudden curveball that was thrown.
Focusing on the food and beverage industry, the last few months have confirmed that online ordering is the way of the future. As such, many restaurants and bars are adapting their strategies to perfect their takeaway process and meet the demand for digitisation. This way, customers can feel both safe and gratified when ordering their meals.
Below, we’ll share 5 essential methods and strategies that will help to make your takeaway easier to operate. Whether you’re a large 5-star restaurant or a small corner-coffee shop, these ideas will kick your innovative thinking into gear as you take COVID by the horns and show it who’s boss!
“Deep breath” – here we go:
1. Organise Your Staff with Management Tools
For your takeaway service to function more efficiently, your staff must be up to the task. They need to be ready and willing to adapt to the new procedures. You’ll have to schedule in training to make sure everyone’s on the same page and that the new processes are acknowledged.
“Often, when smaller restaurants transition to online services, they neglect the fact that their daily order volumes are now going to increase.” 
This may also be a good time to investigate training assistance. There are some reliable digital management tools available to assist with scheduling and workplace efficiency. For example:
- Typsy is a staff training platform that uses online videos from the best in the hospitality business to teach essential skills and compliance.
- Tap my Back provides managers with in-depth reporting on staff engagement and how members are coping while at work (which can be helpful as we all try to navigate the COVID pandemic).
- 7Shifts helps to keep track of staff rosters so that you can approve staff availability and ensure that you have a constant flow of hands-on deck.
Once you have created order in your kitchen, the process of offering takeaways will be easier with fewer hiccups along the way. It will also set the foundation for keeping you, your staff, and your patrons safe and satisfied.
2. Adapt Your Menu
If crumbed mushrooms are a hit at your restaurant, don’t be under the assumption that they will receive the same adulation when customers order the dish as a takeaway. Fried items tend to lose their crispiness and juicy flavour after a while and may not be the best food to package for delivery. The bottom line is, not all foods are meant for deliveries and takeaways.
Perhaps it’s time that you revise your takeaway menu to only include meals that can endure the time between order and delivery. This way, you’ll still get a good rep for rustling up divine dishes.
From an economic point of view, it’s best to choose items that don’t take up a lot of time for preparation and packaging.
Also, if you haven’t yet done so – it’s time to create an online menu. To really streamline your takeaway service, you could consider investing in software (new or third party) that allows customers to order directly through your menu. These tool-types typically integrate with a delivery system to encourage a seamless process.
Did you know? Digital ordering is growing 3x the rate of on-site ordering. 
3. Streamline Delivery
When it comes to streamlining food and beverage delivery, one of the key decisions to make is whether you will be using an in-house system to deliver orders – or if you are going to partner with a third party. Both choices come with their own list of pros and cons and in the end, the decision will come down to personal preference and budget. Of course, if you go the third-party route, you’ll want to in engage in a company who has the same ethos as yours.
Make sure that your own delivery staff are well-informed about your brand and meals so that they can answer all queries and concerns posed by customers.
And then – as with the importance of digitising your menu – an online ordering system has become an expectation by customers and if you’re not part of this new movement, you’ll be losing out on tons of potential business.
Some of the UK’s top online food delivery tools that are worth looking into include:
- Just Eat
- Food Hub
- Uber Eats
- Hungry House
When researching these products, some intense introspection is required. To choose an application that’s going to work best for your brand, ask yourself — what features do you need? Can you integrate your current POS with the online restaurant ordering system? Are any marketing tools included in the deal? Are there any hidden charges? How compliant is the service with new COVID-19 regulations? Does the service provide access to cashless payment software?
4. Cashless Payments
Cashless payment technology for restaurants enables quick and easy customer transactions. It also reduces the risks that come with having cash on hand. The good news is that this type of technology is no longer reserved for large restaurant chains. Even the smallest takeaway joints can access affordable cashless payment systems.
The advantages include:
- Transparency, reliability, and security in the system
- Increased speed of service
- High customer satisfaction
- A surge in online orders
Ask your bank if they provide any cashless payment facilities or browse online for cashless payment applications that are available to your area.
5. Get the Word Out
Last – but way far from least – take advantage of tools that allow you to get the word out. If this is the first time that you’re offering takeaway as an option, then you need to let folks know that you now provide this service. If you’re a takeaway veteran, inform your patrons that you have improved your system so that they can experience even better customer satisfaction.
In this regard, social media is your friend. This is still one of the best marketing tools for those who are on a budget. You could also look into SMS and email marketing tools, or encourage ye’ old faithful “word of mouth”.
The more you market yourself, the wider your customer base will be. Having a dedicated customer base is what will make offering take-out a breeze. The best customers are the ones who create more customers through word of mouth. Referral and recommendation programs are a great way to activate this marketing method.
When getting the word out, remember to reassure your audiences that you have put all the relevant local health measures in place and that their health and safety is paramount to you.