Have you just started a new restaurant? If you have, there are a lot of things to think about: the food, the menu, the design of the menu, the overall ambiance of the restaurant, your web presence, etc.
A great feature which many restaurants have begun to employ is offering takeout – employing the option of some sort of online ordering system. Then you, the customer, go to the restaurant, pick up the food and go. Online ordering is becoming more and more popular, especially among a new generation of millennials who are more comfortable with texting than calling. So, here are some common takeout mistakes and how you can help your restaurant avoid them.
Packaging is Too Large or Too Small
When your takeout packaging is too big, it can make your customer feel as though they have been cheated out of a larger portion. Unless we’re eating at some hoity-toity five-star restaurant where the portions are less than the size of your hand, we expect to get a lot of food. Think about most of the places you go (I’ve noticed this especially at Asian food restaurants). Takeout containers are packed to the brim. The lid will barely stay on and you almost need another container. But, despite how much food some places pack in, you also want to make sure your packaging doesn’t appear too small.
People may wonder if the food could have been contaminated somehow if it is spilling out the sides, not to mention it would also create a mess. If it’s leaking out the sides and the lid isn’t tight, the food will get colder much sooner. People order food because they want it hot and don’t want to have to work for it. So, aim for the Goldilocks rule of packaging: not too big, not too small.
Poor Brand Message
This particular rule of thumb should reflect your restaurant and what you stand for. Are you a hip and trendy cafe? Your branding should reflect that you are trying to appear environmentally conscious. You should emulate that with biodegradable packaging or packaging that is easy to recycle. Or, perhaps you want to come off as a higher-end establishment. It would behoove you to have smart, well-designed packaging.
You wouldn’t want to place your food in some cheap plastic bag that says “thank you” ten times down the side and looks like it came from the 7-Eleven on the corner if you are trying to brand your restaurant as sophisticated. You’ll likely want a nicer, heavy duty paper bag emblazoned with your logo and brand message.
This is akin to going up to the drive thru because you don’t have very much time, or it’s cold, but then the drive through takes what seems like forever. Drive thrus, on average, should take around 215 seconds, or about 3-4 minutes, or less. When people order online for your takeout option, they want quick service. All they want is their food and to be back home, enjoying their favorite movie and favorite people, away from crowds.
If you take too long on your takeout services, it can severely and negatively impact your business. Think about Jimmy John’s sandwiches. They keep their menu relatively simple, so that aids in their speedy service, and their slogan is “freaky fast.” Once, I timed my Jimmy John’s delivery order. From the minute I called into the restaurant, to the minute the delivery girl walked into my office, it was just over seven minutes.
It seemed as if I barely had even hung up the phone and there she was with my dinner. Now, “freaky fast” may not be your slogan (that’s copyright infringement), but people still expect their food quickly, particularly if they have ordered ahead for it for a pickup. If they have to wait too long, they can easily go elsewhere. Make sure you prioritize your takeout customers. Many restaurants designate a couple of parking spots near the front doors for takeout orders. Consider doing the same at your place. Try to keep their wait to less than five minutes.
Having a Complex Ordering System
Leonardo da Vinci said that “simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.” Make sure that your website and menu flyers you send out to the community are simple to understand with your number and website plainly visible. Group like-priced items together.
A huge mistake some restaurants make is placing low and high cost items together. Think about it. If you see one option for dinner that’s $7.95 and one that’s $14.95 right next to each other, which one would you go for? Also, make sure your website and menus are well laid out. A complicated menu can be frustrating to understand, and again, people can easily go elsewhere.
No one likes to feel like a dummy. If your menu is too difficult to understand for the average Jane who walks through the door, you can bet that you will lose business before you can say, “Hi. Welcome to my Restaurant!”
Simplicity is the way to go. Simplify and streamline your menu, website, and your service. Your customers will be much happier when they can easily locate your $6 burger and fry meal. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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