Take-out creates additional revenue and extends your brand outside of the dining room with minimal costs or impact to your business. In todays fast-paced world, take-out service is the fastest growing revenue segment in the industry. The primary force driving this trend is higher income families, who have already proven they will pay more for higher quality, convenient meals for their families. But you’ve got one shot at getting it right so attention to detail is critical. Mistakes in the dining room are more easily detected and corrected. Mistakes after a guest gets home with a take-out meal are more frustrating and if not caught, will damage your reputation. Most restaurants underestimate the benefit of a successful take-out program.
Here are steps you can take to help your restaurant get it right:
- Designate a staff member (bartender, hostess, lead server) to handle all take out orders and train them on treating take-out guests as they would any guests sitting in front of them. Create a procedure to ensure efficiency and the best experience possible for your guests.
- Invest in quality packaging to ensure proper insulation, minimize the risk of spillage or specific containers for your type of food. Take out packaging is an effective billboard for your business so have containers, cups and bags with your logo or restaurant name. Customized packaging has come a long way and the cost are not as expensive as you might think. There are local companies that specialize in restaurant packaging so ask your local foodservice sales rep for recommendations.
- Presentation is just as important in take-out as in the dining room. Train your kitchen staff to plate take-out the same as they would for a plate going into the dining room.
- When the guest arrives to pick up their meal, go over the order with them to catch mistakes before they leave the restaurant.
- Follow up with a courtesy call within an hour to ensure the guest was satisfied with their experience. This shows you care and allows a chance to correct a negative experience.
But of course, you have to build the business in order to increase restaurant sales so there are several ways in which you can get the word out. If you don’t have the manpower to put feet on the streets, utilize local delivery companies to market your take-out business for you. Use existing loyalty programs by offering extra points for take-out meals. Employ a viral marketing strategy with small, unexpected surprises like pre-printed thank you notes signed by the manager on staff or give every 12th take-out order a certificate for a free appetizer or dessert.
Every business is looking for new ways to reach people and increase restaurant sales so why let an easy revenue builder go underutilized or unmanaged. Whether you’re a quick service or fine dining establishment, you increase your sales anywhere from 10-70% with an effective program.
Originally published 5/21/13