Nontraditional restaurant experiences were not just around during Covid-19. Customers have been embracing drive-thru, takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup options (all those also known as off-premise dining) for a somewhat long time. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2019 study, off-premises accounted for about 60% of food service occasions.
Curbside pickup, in particular, is what many restaurants already offered pre-pandemic and have continued to capitalize on as Covid-19 has worn on. 87% of respondents surveyed for Medallia Zingle’s 2020 study hope restaurants keep providing experiences with added convenience such as a curbside pickup in the future. How can you adapt to meet the evolving consumer behavior where the ease and flexibility provided by curbside pickup services are appreciated? Simply put, how can you use them to their fullest potential? Here are the ways.
What is contactless curbside pickup for restaurants?
Sushi X has used the One2 ordering system for a fast and effective curbside experience.
Curbside pickup refers to services that enable guests to place online or phone orders in advance and pick them up. One2 online ordering system gives them the convenience to pay ahead with their preferred payment method. There are some delivery options that customers can choose to get these pickup orders, for example, having the staff bring out food to the customer waiting in the vehicle parked at the curb. This makes for a great restaurant experience with added convenience and safety.
How does curbside pickup work?
Curbside pickup works flexibly to fit the immediate demands and preferences of restaurant customers. In other words, the curbside option varies as follows:
1. The traditional way
This should bring guests to the curbside. More specifically, pickup customers use the phone or the One2 online ordering platform (embedded or not necessarily embedded into the restaurant website) to place an order online. When the customer arrives at the restaurant/store, they then have the food delivered to them, whether they are on foot, on a bike, or in a car.
2. The drive-thru/curbside pickup hybrid
For another delivery option, customers use a handheld point-of-sale (POS) or an online system from outside the eatery to drop in a curbside order from a drive-through. They then have their items delivered to them.
3. The curbside walk-in
This way is good for the customer who does not want to wait in the cars for their mobile order delivery and expects a curbside experience from inside. After placing an order online or through a portal, they can retrieve their delicious food at unmanned- or manned pickup locations.
Why offer curbside pickup? Pros and cons
- Adapt to the latest trends in the business.
- Ensure added safety when you offer takeout to customers in the wake of Covid-19.
- Placing an order online prevents details from getting lost in translation.
- Eat restaurant-quality dishes in the comfort of their own home.
- Curbside order is ideal for various meal types, say a night in, picnics, or for those grabbing something quick on their way home from work.
- Compared to waiting for the delivery guy and worrying about receiving cold food or delayed delivery, curbside pickup ensures that consumers can enjoy their food hot and fresh at their own timescale.
- Convenient for customers. Patrons are particularly interested in curbside pickup if the eatery is 10 miles from their home, seeing that it can potentially be faster than delivery.
- A quick way for those looking to satiate their food cravings on the go.
- Minimize the risk of damaged packages.
- Remove delivery costs.
- Bring in revenue from takeout orders.
- Operate your food business with less space, reducing rent and maintenance costs.
- Hire fewer or no service staff to decrease labor costs.
- Accommodate your customers’ needs regarding what they want and how they desire to collect it.
- Limited visibility of curbside pickup systems mainly due to the absence of trackable metrics like wait time.
- There might be delays from the restaurants/stores being shorthanded or having an increase in purchase orders.
- Clogged phone lines. Owing to the limited visibility, many patrons are forced to call the store to notify them that they have arrived. This causes a bad customer experience when the landline is swamped with calls.
- Many guests use the curbside pickup convenience, which likely leads to traffic jams.
- Consumers may become miffed due to location mix-ups. For example, the patron sends the food order to the wrong location.
- Some customers may not like the idea of using public service vehicles or their own gas to pick up the food.
- Staff safety issues (e.g., slip and trip incidents, incidents connected with the presence of the moving vehicle in the parking lot, or robbery and assault incidents)
- The employee may accidentally give a customer the wrong order during peak working hours.
How to set up a curbside pickup for restaurants: The best tips
1. Build a curbside pickup menu
Here are a few tips for creating your perfect food menu for curbside pickup:
Avoid offering so many dishes
A good takeout experience comes down to speed. Thus, the menu should be on the small side. This way allows your back-of-house employees to concentrate on preparing the dishes fast.
Consider your best sellers when you select curbside dishes to serve
Understand and cater to your consumer behavior. If guests know they can get their favorites, they are usually more willing to arrive at your store to retrieve the pickup order.
Use items that travel well
Ensure to serve the delivery food that holds up well in transit. Also, use the right food packaging that can go the distance and preserve the quality of your recipes (say hot ones).
Sell alcohol (if possible)
Alcohol travels well and has high profit margins. Sell it if delivery and pickup of this beverage are legal in your area.
Expand your curbside pickup menu
Unleash your creativity when it comes to offerings and this hence will set you apart and increase sales. For example, include prepared meal kít and family packs, ready-to-cook meal kits, or even pantry staples.
Use an instant contactless menu
PDF menus are not recommended for some reasons. Rather, use instant contactless QR code menus integrated into your website, for instance, One2, for a seamless customer experience and an increase in site traffic.
What our customers have to say
2. Implement online ordering
Ordering via phone is not an optimal choice
You can give consumers the option of calling your store to place curbside pickup food. Still, this means you are limiting the number of diners you can serve at one time.
The One2 system
Optimize the ordering process with One2
Ordering online via the One2 platform is a preferred option by restaurants/stores that offer curbside pickup. It allows customers to view your delivery menu, place an order online, and pay ahead.
With this true turn-key technology solution, the restaurant benefits from not just a smooth process of ordering online and checkout but smart marketing tools, built-in delivery options, and integrated loyalty, among others. Above all, whether you have a small or big business, One2’s curbside pickup system adapts to bars and restaurants of all sizes.
We enjoyed working with One2 during the pandemic to promote Blondies Cocktails, including assistance with logistics and online ordering. (Christina Di Novo, Compliance Specialist from Blondies Cocktails)
3. Choose a dedicated curbside pickup location
Here are some options in this regard:
A dedicated area
Your location for curbside pickup can be in your parking lot. Use markers to create a spot where patrons can pull in, park, and wait for their food orders.
A temporary spot
Should there be no parking lot available to your consumers, think about requesting permission from the local authorities to set up a temporary location to park in front of your restaurant/store.
An available space
Else, the customer parks on the street behind your restaurant while waiting for their curbside pickup orders.
4. Provide clear pickup instructions for the customer
Make sure you address these stages in the process of designing the pickup instructions:
Placing a curbside order
Let the customer know precisely where to place the pickup order, for example, directly on your website.
Curbside pickup timing
After the checkout, give the customer an estimate of when the order will be ready. Should you be using a platform that allows diners to order online, it can help send an order confirmation SMS text or email (with the order number) to them.
Notify your consumers about details on where to park.
Ensure your patrons have a way to notify you that they have arrived. They may do so by texting or calling you or through an app.
A customer can pay ahead if she orders your food via a 3rd-party app or an online ordering system. But they may bring payment terminals out to the curbside location to collect payment in case they are not paying in advance.
5. Train your staff for curbside pickup
The training should involve:
- Ensuring smooth communication between employees.
- Following food safety protocols.
- Being attentive to the patrons, for example, notice them when they park.
- Ensuring your curbside pickup store/restaurant operations keep everybody safe, for instance, limiting food handling, having all staff wear face masks, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
6. Promote your curbside pickup
To hype the curbside pickup option of Buckhorn BBQ + Grill, Doug posted a social media video to walk diners through the process.
Here are some best ways to advertise this business:
- In-store signage
- On your Google My Business listing
- Word of mouth, for example, letting customers who call for delivery know that you also offer curbside pickup
- Featuring curbside pickup prominently on your restaurant website
1. Should I keep curbside pickup after Covid 19?
Yes, considering its convenience.
2. Does curbside pickup increase sales?
Yes. This option has got tangible gains in customer loyalty, translating straightforwardly to repeat purchases and improved revenue.
3. How to prevent curbside pickup concerns?
- Create a designated pickup area.
- Have staff wear reflective vests when doing curbside pickup tasks to ensure they are visible to approaching motorists.
- Ensure proper housekeeping to prevent slip and trip hazards.
- Communicate with customers.
- Use the One2 curbside pickup system.
Contact us for more information and support on this.
4. How much to tip for curbside pickup?
A 10% tip is customary today.
5. What restaurants have a curbside pickup?
Some examples include:
- Cracker Barrel
- Pizza Hut
- Outback Steakhouse
- Boston Market
- Applebee’s Grill + Bar
- Local Chili's app
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop
- Taco Cabana
- Jimmy John’s
- The Cheesecake Factory
6. Which is the ideal curbside pickup food?
- Fried chicken
- Grilled meat and veggies
- Deli sandwiches