With the closure of restaurant dine-in services to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, online food ordering has become a crucial business model overnight. Restaurants today have only two options: they can stay open by offering online delivery and/or takeout, or close up shop and wait for the proverbial storm to pass.
Online food delivery has been skyrocketing in the past few years, so many restaurants already have a solid delivery model in place. Other businesses, including many bars, pubs and fine-dining restaurants, may not have experience with off-premises dining yet. But even if you are in the delivery game already, you’ll need to organize your operation in a different way to adapt to the current climate.
Best safety practices for delivery
- Try to avoid contact with the delivery couriers as much as possible. You can set out delivery bags for Uber Eats on one table, deliveries for Deliveroo riders on a second table, and so on. Make sure it is clear at once where couriers from each third-party delivery platform can collect their orders.
- Customers ordering through online ordering platforms like Uber Eats, Just Eat, Deliveroo, etc. already pay upfront and online. If you also have a delivery or catering service of your own, accept only online and contactless payment.
- Minimize contact between delivery riders and customers. Delivery providers have already implemented contactless delivery in order to do so. Here’s how it works: a customer can tick the “contactless delivery” option checkbox upon ordering. When delivering, the courier will place the delivery bag or box safely at the front door or in the location as specified in the order instructions. The courier will then wait at a safe distance until you arrive to collect your meal.
- Studies have shown that 1 out of 4 delivery drivers - in some studies, this is even 1 out of 3 - admit to taking food from a delivery. In these times, especially, it is crucial to reassure your customers that this is not going to happen. The best thing you can do here is to close your packaging using a tamper-proof seal, strip or band, so your customer can rest assured that no one has been in contact with their meal after it left the kitchen.
- Consider labeling packages with the time and date of preparation and offer guidance, such as heating or reheating instructions (if applicable).
- Supply your drivers and riders with hand sanitizer.
- Transparent communication is key in situations like the one we find ourselves in at the moment. Tell your customers what precautions you are taking to ensure their safety and the safety of your employees. We advise putting a banner or section on your website’s or order site’s homepage, detailing your actions, incentives and adjustments regarding COVID-19. You can also email this information to your customers, and even ask feedback after having delivered their order.
- Simplify the lives of your staff by looking into a POS integration for your delivery channels. This will speed up prep, waiting and delivery times, automate your online order flow and save your employees a lot of time - and money.
Best safety practices for pickup
- For pickup, limit the number of customers inside the restaurant at the same time to maintain social distancing rules. The easiest way to communicate the maximum number of people inside is with a sticky note or printed leaflet near the entrance.
- You could also organize takeout differently and give each customer a specific time to collect their meal. Work with time slots of around 5 to 10 minutes for each pickup and communicate clearly about punctuality.
- As for delivery, accept only payment by (credit) card if you can, so you don’t have to handle cash. If your terminal doesn’t support contactless payment, wipe it clean before and after each transaction.
- Make sure your staff is equipped with enough disposable gloves and/or masks, and provide bins (that can be closed off with a lid) to throw gloves and masks in after use.
Other best practices
- Don’t forget to optimize your menu so it is delivery (or take-away) proof. Since many restaurants are working in reduced teams, offer only a few of your regular menu’s dishes to cut complexity in the back of the house.
- Make sure your packaging upholds food quality and can withstand possible cross contamination during transport. If possible, go for a sustainable brand that produces eco-friendly containers.
- Consider offering family-size meals - like our customer Bavet - or even meal kits: larger quantities of pasta sauce, meal deals including starters, sides and desserts, or even ingredients to make your most popular dish at home. Some restaurants, such as Wagamama, even make cooking videos, showing people at home how to prepare one of their signature dishes!
- If you have trouble getting specific ingredients - as some of your suppliers also may be affected by the crisis - don’t be afraid to adjust your delivery or take-out menu on a weekly basis, offering up what is available to you. Use what you have, including frozen stock and items from your dry storage area, to cut costs.
- Don’t add utensils, cutlery and napkins to your delivery or take-out bags.
- Make the most of your social media channels. You can post pictures of your (delivery) meals, make stories about the safety measures you are taking, share all kinds of updates, etc. Don’t underestimate the power of the sense of community in crisis situations: if you ask your followers to share your incentives or takeout menu and send you photos of their home meals, a big part of your community will respond.
- Don’t be shy about your new takeout or delivery service: advertize it wherever and whenever you can! Setting up localized adverts on social media and Google isn’t hard and it will create more awareness, which has long-term value as well.
April 1, 2020by Karolien Odou
Content marketer at Deliverect and fulltime carnivore
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