How to Adapt Your Restaurant During COVID-19

How to Adapt Your Restaurant During COVID-19

These are trying times. The pandemic has disrupted restaurants financially and operationally. Restaurant owners are now forced to rethink their operations past the short term and in the long term. 

Although many restaurants have reopened, most have had to limit their capacity for on-premises dining, which has proven to be a major challenge. Beyond that, restaurants are now faced with the additional challenge of making the most out of limited resources so they can achieve the greatest profitability

In order to keep your restaurant business open long-term, it’s critical that you adjust your operational strategy and redefine your restaurant footprint. You need to update your processes to better align with how the restaurant of the future will be run. Here’s what that looks like:

A New On-Premises Dining Experience

Although takeout and delivery options are growing in popularity, many guests continue to love the experience they receive when they dine in at their favorite restaurants. However, new government regulations and consumer expectations have caused shifts in how on-premises operations are carried out. 

Redefining the Dining Space 

The main reason in-house dining has become so limited is because restaurants must now provide additional space between tables in order to follow social distancing guidelines to keep their customers and employees safe. Not only that, many restaurants are still required to operate at only 25-50% capacity. While this presents new challenges, there are a few things restaurants can do to to optimize guest seating: 

  • Eliminating buffets, bulky host stands, and large waiting areas to allow for more dining space
  • Expanding outdoor patio seating to increase capacity 
  • Adding plexiglass screens in between booths  and in front of host stands to increase safety 

Reducing Cross-Contamination

As most are already aware, safe on-premises dining requires special safety measures to be taken. Options such as no-contact ordering and payment are ideal to promote safety and security among guests and staff. Restaurants can utilize QR codes to allow guests to download menus on their smartphones and order via mobile. You can also provide technology such as mobile POS for guests to order and pay right at the table with limited contact with waitstaff. These can easily be sanitized in between every use for maximum safety. 

Revamping Off-Premises Processes

Many restaurants that did not originally offer takeout and delivery have finally begun doing so, as it’s a valuable stream of income, especially with all of the shifts occurring within the industry. No-contact options continue to be the norm, but restaurants are finding new ways to take their off-premises operations to the next level for their customers. 


Packaging is becoming a major focus for restaurants looking to optimize their off-premises experiences. More durable packaging with better seals is a must, and restaurants are reconfiguring their back-of-house to include larger, more efficient to-go packaging stations. 


Restaurants are getting more creative with their delivery methods, whether it’s by bike, car, or foot. Many are even investing in food trucks to expand their footprint and serve customers in new areas, which provides another valuable source of revenue. 

Curbside Pickup

Curbside pickup has become a significant revenue driver during the pandemic. Its popularity is only expected to increase as customers continue to choose more convenient, safer dining options. Because of this, restaurants have had to revisit their layouts to incorporate this new service. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, many created makeshift pickup stations and figured out the logistics on the fly. Now that curbside pickup is becoming a more permanent part of the restaurant industry as a whole, restaurant owners are making more permanent changes to the layout of their parking lots to accommodate for this. 

Parking lots and outdoor waiting areas are now being transformed into curbside pickup stations, complete with: 

  • Tables for pickup and payment
  • Designated parking spaces for no-contact drop off
  • Traffic cones and signage to direct curbside customers where to go 

Some restaurants are getting even more creative with their available spaces and have begun offering outdoor bar stations for cocktails to-go, while others are incorporating a retail/restaurant hybrid model and offering essential items. This helps upsell curbside pickup guests with customer favorites such as homemade jarred sauces, bread, or meal kits to-go. 

The ultimate goal of redefining off-premises operations is to meet every comfort zone with dine-in, takeout, delivery, drive-thrus, and curbside pickup, all while maximizing the use of your space to drive more sales.

Rethinking Your Restaurant Footprint in the Long-Term

Restaurants have done a fantastic job of thinking on their feet and making the changes necessary to meet new expectations. Here’s a few creative ways restaurants are taking it to the next level:


For quick service restaurants, drive-thrus have always been a popular revenue stream for customers on the go. As we look ahead into the future, the pandemic may encourage other restaurant types to open up drive-thrus for their customers as well. 

This creates a safe, contact-free option for customers looking for a quick bite without having to interact with restaurant staff or other diners. As we move into 2021, drive-thru pizza by the slice or margaritas to-go may transform from novelty to norm. 

Ghost Kitchens

Since in-house dining is reduced industry-wide, many restaurants are reconsidering offering in-house dining at all. In order to reduce space, many have found success operating as a ghost kitchen, which means offering off-premises dining exclusively. 

The benefits of ghost kitchens include: 

  • Small square footage without reducing the menu
  • Less labor required for a larger profit margin
  • The ability to go fully digital for transactions
  • Surge consistent sales with takeout and delivery on the rise 

Let HungerRush Help Your Business Evolve with the New Normal for Restaurants

While the restaurant industry was already expected to evolve in this direction even prior to 2020, nobody expected these changes to be brought on so suddenly. It’s normal to experience growing pains while trying to adjust to all the curve balls that have been thrown your way. Make sure you have help. 

A solid Restaurant Management System is a great way to understand shifts within customer behaviors and evolve to meet those needs for both on- and off-premises operations. It can provide a better ROI by helping you strategize for a more profitable future while nurturing your customer base. 

HungerRush offers integrated Restaurant Management Systems that help you stay in control of your business. For more information, request a demo with HungerRush today.


Goodbye, POS: The Restaurant Management System (RMS) is the Future

When McDonalds became the first restaurant in the world to adopt the digital point of sale (POS) system in 1973, it was a game-changing moment. In the fifty years since, POS systems have evolved to encompass a wide array of features, used by almost every restaurant in the United States.

But the POS model has hit a brick wall it cannot overcome, and as the restaurant industry evolves to demand greater interoperability with other essential systems, it’s time we make the next leap in restaurant technology innovation.

We’re proud to enable restaurants to achieve a more profitable future with the next evolution of the POS: the Restaurant Management System, or RMS for short.

This represents a paradigm shift in how owners manage restaurants—from single-unit locations to large enterprise businesses—and it’s going to unlock countless new doors. We’ll get into the details, including… 

  • Why the POS system has met its natural end (we honor the life it lived!)
  • A new framework for data-driven restaurant management
  • 5 brand new opportunities that an RMS enables for restaurants

The grass really is greener, and we’re excited to share why.

It’s The End Of The Road For The Restaurant POS 

Think of your POS as a doorway between your business and customers. Customers walk through the door (make a transaction) to access your food. In this limited sense, the POS is an incredible tool for creating better customer experiences.

Over time, however, the POS system has become bloated with features and tools that are only loosely connected—and those loose connections come with notable limitations.

  • Reporting data in your POS is incomplete. Your POS primarily tracks sales that happen through that doorway. But what about online sales, third-party delivery, or bulk orders from catering customers? The ways customers buy are changing rapidly, and the POS doorway just isn’t designed to fit them all.
  • Marketing and loyalty opportunities are cut short. POS systems only communicate with customers that have walked through that doorway, and are often limited to single locations (a big yikes for multi-unit operators). Most restaurants use more than one tool to manage rewards, loyalty, and marketing—and those tools rarely play nice together, so you’re left with incomplete data in each system and inefficient growth.
  • Inventory tracking is inefficient. Some POS systems remove items from inventory when they’re sold via that doorway (which seems handy at first), but what about other ways you use food? Corporate catering, waste and spoilage, moving ingredients from one location to another—POS inventory systems can’t handle all this variation.

And we haven’t even touched on employee scheduling, human resources, payroll, delivery driver management, and other business workflows. You’ll have to find external tools to manage those systems, and most of them don’t integrate completely with POS software, leaving you with no way to see, learn from, and make decisions based on all your business data.

When the POS system is used as if it’s the center of gravity for your business, and all the other tools revolve around it, you’re left with disjointed functionality, messy data, and limited growth potential.

But when you have clean data that flows freely from one system to the next—without having to be funneled through the small POS system doorway—you’re able to see clearly, make connections, and implement improvements like never before.

We’re hosting a webinar that walks through real-world examples of how an RMS bypasses these data limitations to help you take command of your business in unprecedented ways. 👉 Sign up to join us right here.

The RMS Re-Imagines Information Flow In Your Business

The POS doorway analogy is well-understood, but we want to take it further. The point of sale may be an important door for customers who want to engage with your business, however it’s not the only door to your business.

Your restaurant is a palace of doors, with all kinds of information flowing in and out from them.

  • Online orders, handheld tablets, and third-party delivery platforms represent additional ordering doorways
  • Food and supplies enter your business through the inventory and purchasing doors
  • Employees come in through scheduling and HR
  • In-house delivery drivers have a door of their own
  • And your reporting and analytics need to see all those doors in one place

The Restaurant Management System removes the POS as the center of gravity and puts it where it belongs: a module within your greater business ecosystem.

It’s no longer behaving as the primary doorway of your business to the outside world, but a doorway among many.

So what then is the new center of gravity for your restaurant business?

All your business data in the cloud.

The RMS model creates a common language that all your business systems speak, then hosts all that data in the cloud so that every system is constantly giving and receiving new information.

Your sales, ingredients, customers, staff, finances—all of it together makes up the hub. The spokes are the tools that let you manage those various systems and workflows with seamless integration.

5 New Opportunities The RMS Model Enables

With a Restaurant Management System, all the spokes of your business have a way to communicate perfectly with each other. This means you can connect and gain insights from tools in whole new ways.

Here are a few examples.

  • Digital, delivery, and in-person orders all go to the same place. The dreaded “wall of tablets” from order sources is a nightmare for order accuracy and back-of-house efficiency. With an RMS, all your point-of-sale doorways lead to the same kitchen workflow, ensuring orders don’t get lost, your kitchen staff doesn’t have to juggle ten order sources, and sales reporting always shows you the full picture.
  • You can fully own the delivery experience (and stop giving away 30% of every order). Third-party delivery platforms charge hefty commissions, then rob you of customer data, so you’re left crossing your fingers that they order again. With an RMS that has a delivery driver module, you’re able to accept and fulfill your own delivery orders, then market to those customers later—you’re in complete control.
  • Customers get a personalized experience everywhere. Whether they’re ordering in-store, from a mobile app, or your website, customers can receive personalized experiences that increase spend and loyalty—all because those various doorways are connected to the hub and sharing customer data in real-time.
  • Optimize inventory and purchasing to reduce waste and increase margins. Food waste and over-purchasing are the silent killers of profit margins. With an RMS that connects inventory, purchasing, and all your points of sales, you can understand trends and predict demand with greater confidence.
  • All your business intelligence lives in one space. Once all your business data is funneled to the hub, it can be organized, viewed, and acted upon without roadblocks. No more separate spreadsheets for twelve locations, or comparing POS data, loyalty data, and online sales data from different sources. It’s all there, from single store reports to business-wide growth, ready to be accessed from anywhere.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

The power of the RMS is so wide-reaching that it’s impossible to cover all the ways it can transform your business in a single article.

That’s why we’re hosting a webinar that walks through real-world examples of how an RMS helps you integrate systems in new ways and take command of your business like never before. 
Want to see an RMS in action? 👉 Sign up to join us right here.

How to Get Customers Back to Your Restaurant After COVID-19

How to Get Customers Back to Your Restaurant After COVID-19

At a time when nearly everything seems abnormal thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers are eagerly searching for activities and places that make them feel some semblance of normalcy. Your restaurant is one of them. 

However, increased concerns for health and safety have caused customers to be more cautious about when and where they venture out of the safety of their homes. As consumers make choices about where they want to spend their money and show their loyalty, restaurants that they trust have a better chance of winning their business. You’ll want to ensure your business is one of them. That’s why building trust and making customers feel at ease post-COVID-19 is critical. 

Understand What’s Most Important to Your Restaurant Customers

In order to properly meet the needs of your customers, you’ll need to understand what they’re looking for. 

To do this, consider sending out your own survey via email to learn what your customers are comfortable with and what safety measures would make them feel best. To do so, pull your database stored in your restaurant management system to reach out to your customers and get their opinions. Ask questions such as “how soon are you comfortable with resuming dine-in activities?” or “what new procedures can we have in place to make you feel most at ease?” 

To give you an idea for what consumers want in the short term, a May 2020 study found that in regard to resuming dine-in activities: 

  • 61.9% of consumers want restaurant employees using both masks and gloves
  • 58.7% say that disposable, single-use menus are important to them 
  • 85% in support of 6+ feet of distance between customers as well as staff
  • 81% in support of every customer sanitizing before entering

Create and Execute an Action Plan

Because your restaurant is unique, you’ll need a plan customized to you and your customers. Think through your reopening plan carefully—you’ll need to execute accordingly to create the safest environment possible for both customers and employees. 

Cleaning and Sanitization

Cleaning and sanitizing your restaurant are of the utmost importance in order to make your customers feel safe about returning. All surfaces and commonly-touched items should be sanitized after each use and regularly throughout the day. Amp up the frequency, too. For example, you may have only sanitized after each use, and regularly throughout the day in the past. While you reopen, sanitize surfaces at least once every hour. Place contactless hand sanitizing stations at your entrance and throughout your restaurant. 

Distance and Prevention 

When waiting for a table, customers should wait outside or in their vehicles. Employees should wear masks and gloves at all times, and tables should be spaced out at least six feet apart to reduce the risk of virus spread. Many restaurants are only allowed to operate at 25% or 50% capacity when they first open. Skipping every other table when seating guests is an easy way to execute this while ensuring proper distance. 

Single-Use Items

For more peace of mind, switch to single-use items, such as paper menus, to prevent the spread of viruses. You can also consider adding a QR code that can be displayed throughout your restaurant. Customers can scan it and view your menu right from their phones. In addition, discontinue the use of soda fountains and water stations, and switch to providing upon request.

Outside Seating

This option is a popular choice for customers post-COVID-19 restrictions. It provides fresh air and more room to spread out for customers looking to grab a bite while they enjoy the weather. If you already have an outside patio or dining space, make sure you are optimizing your layout and spreading the word about it. If you don’t, consider adding one—even just temporarily—to offer to customers.

Deploy a Multichannel Restaurant Marketing Strategy 

Once you have your plan in place, you’ll need to focus on developing and deploying a marketing strategy that effectively encourages customers to stop in. Make sure to let them know their health and safety is #1, and that you’ve made changes to emphasize this. 

Spread the word on updates like: 

  • New cleaning routines
  • Updated policies
  • New training and expectations for your staff 
  • New health screenings for employees
  • Safety procedures in place 

It’s also a good idea to create new promotions specific to dine-in traffic, like a free appetizer with the purchase of two entrees, or $5 off your next dine-in meal. 

Don’t be afraid to get creative, and reach your customers in new ways. Over 77% of consumers are making their restaurant decisions less than 30 minutes before they order, so it’s important to connect with your customers wherever they are to grab their attention. 

A few ideas: 

  • Email marketing: Send emails right before common mealtimes, like at 11:00 AM or 4:00 PM. 
  • Social media marketing: Promote dine-in specials and provide photos of your new layout, mask and glove policy, etc. to show customers that you’re prepared for them to return safely.
  • Website marketing: Make sure your menu is online and that you provide updates on your new hours and policies, and link your website through communications through your loyalty database.
  • Mobile app marketing: Send push notifications around mealtimes, and when customers are near your restaurant.
  • Outdoor signage: Let your community know that you’re open and excited for their return.

Stay Connected and Top of Mind with a Restaurant Management System

Though we may have no clear end in sight, continuing customer relationships throughout the duration of COVID-19 is key. Leverage industry-leading solutions like a restaurant management system (RMS) to integrate all of the restaurant tools you need in order to stay efficient and connected to your customers. HungerRush combines the power of cutting-edge technology and the knowledge of industry experts to offer a total RMS solution that brings real results. 

Along with point of saleonline ordering, and delivery software, a solid loyalty program is especially imperative in order to collect customer data throughout the year so that you can manage and execute personalized promotions during times like these. Reputable software systems like HungerRush are ideal for their efficiency and robust functionality. 

For more information on how restaurant owners can survive and recover from COVID-19, view our free Restaurant Recovery Roadmap ebook, or request a demo with HungerRush today. 

Want to learn more? See how HungerRush can help transform your guest experience.

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How to Increase Delivery Sales with Integrated Delivery Management Technology

How to Increase Delivery Sales with Integrated Delivery Management Technology

Because of state-mandated closures and social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the wake of COVID-19, 92% of restaurant business has taken place off-premises. For the consumer, even a pandemic was not enough to decrease the demand for convenience and delicious food, and restaurant online ordering and delivery has increased at a growth rate surpassing that of pre-coronavirus. Even as restrictions loosen and dine-in traffic reopens, off-premises services show no signs of slowing down—in fact, they are predicted to increase further as consumer behavior permanently shifts. 

Restaurant delivery technology will be the next catalyst that helps restaurant owners increase revenue during the new normal. The viability of third-party delivery services will also be put to the test as restaurants work to recoup profits, as well as mitigate the risk of dissatisfied customers due to delivery logistics out of the restaurant’s control. 

If your restaurant has seen success with online ordering, consider the benefits that integrated delivery management technology will provide for maximizing delivery sales and profit margins both today and tomorrow.  Here’s how:

Eliminate Manual Order and Delivery Entry

For some restaurants, online orders have successfully recouped and at times surpassed dine-in sales revenue. Leveraging the right technology, these restaurants have been able to shift labor to accommodate the online order increase. Restaurant owners can now take the next step and further automate processes that will allow more orders to be received and delivered. With  delivery management technology integrated into your restaurant management system (RMS) you’ll be able to successfully grow business while ensuring accurate and timely execution of deliveries. 

Consider this scenario: A customer places an order via your website and requests delivery. Your employee must now manually enter the order into your restaurant management system (RMS), and then manually assign the order to a driver that they can only guess will be available at the time the order is ready. 

At the same time, an online order for delivery comes through but gets held up in a third-party queue. Your employee has to re-enter this order into the point of sale as that is the only way to assign a driver. Meanwhile, the mobile app order is ready, and one of your delivery drivers leaves with it. Turns out, the online order was within the same location and could have gone out as well had it not been delayed due to order re-entry. Another driver returns and takes the online order, but takes a wrong turn delaying the delivery, which you’ll find out is incorrect due to mis-keying it into the point of sale. It’s a nightmare—and that’s just two orders. 

However, with delivery management technology, orders flow seamlessly into one system, no matter if they come from online or your mobile app, and are then automatically assigned to drivers. Customer addresses are also automatically pulled into the order, ensuring accuracy, while also saving valuable time, and providing the visibility required to batch orders and deliver more meals in less time. 

Optimize Driver Delivery Times

Integrating delivery management technology into your restaurant management system allows your business to increase productivity and efficiency. This means that as a restaurant owner, you’ll be able to keep a closer eye on delivery staff. An integrated map view gives you the ability to track delivery progress in real-time. This helps ensure that drivers are staying the course. Additionally, the map view shows clusters of orders, helping you maximize resources by assigning orders from similar locations to a single driver. 

The more efficient you can make the delivery, the less staff will be required, allowing your business to maximize profitability. Some food concepts leverage the power of Google Maps integration to their system to assign and triage orders before they are even dispatched. With Google Maps, the fastest routes can be identified in real-time, mitigating the unexpected, like heavy traffic and construction zones. 

Keep Better Track of Orders

Manually placing orders and assigning and tracking deliveries is not as effective as using delivery management software. With manual processes, errors occur, orders are lost, and customers never return. 

Delivery management technology provides the automation that modern food concepts need to: 

  • Ensure all delivery orders are accounted for and tracked through delivery.
  • Track order delivery time and alert management of orders in danger of being delivered late, or that were fulfilled over the time allotted for delivery.
  • Enhance the customer experience by providing the opportunity for special requests such as leave with the doorman, or use the back door. 

Accurate Reporting for Improved Business Decisions

Restaurant owners can’t identify what is working without proper data collection and analysis. Manual processes don’t provide the insight required to grow business. Integrated delivery management technology allows all orders to flow into one central restaurant management system where data can then be cross-referenced with sales to help you make better, more profitable business decisions. 

For example, maybe your burger and fries meal combo have been a hit for dine-in customers, but rarely get ordered for delivery. Being able to collect and analyze this type of data helps your business decide what offers you should promote to delivery customers to increase sales, and what items should be eliminated from your delivery menu altogether. Additionally, robust reporting allows you to determine benchmarks and track improvements in delivery time, accuracy, profitability, and more.

Industry-Crafted Software That Helps You Master Your Delivery Operations

Keep profits maximized with delivery management technology that integrates into your RMS. HungerRush is the best option for savvy restaurateurs looking to amp up off-premises sales. Easy-to-use, HungerRush was designed for restaurants looking for feature-rich delivery software that helps them master services including centralizing orders, present and past trip segmentation, route resourcing, late order prevention, and timestamps for robust metrics and reporting. 

With HungerRush, give your restaurant the tools it needs to grow business, increase profits, keep customers happy, and build a brighter tomorrow. Request a demo today!

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Tips to Ensure a Smooth Restaurant Reopening

Tips to Ensure a Smooth Restaurant Reopening

After what seems like a lifetime to many, COVID-19 restaurant restrictions have finally begun to loosen. This means that many restaurants are getting the green light to reopen their dining facilities.

A successful restaurant reopening requires careful planning and preparation. A step in the wrong direction could mean putting your employees and customers at risk. In order to ensure a safe, positive, and profitable dining experience, here are some tips and guidelines to follow when strategizing your restaurant reopening plan:

Determine Logistics

The first step is to contact your vendors. With temporary shortages and shipping delays, it is important to know whether everyone is able to fulfill your orders or if you’ll need to make alternative arrangements.  We also suggest creating a contingency plan. 

Then, you should review your menu and pricing. You may have adjusted your menu offerings and pricing when the pandemic first struck. These changes may have included limited menu items, family meal bundles, and meal kits. As your dining room reopens, you’ll need to determine how this affects your menu. Consider which new items and offers will you keep, and which items should be removed.

Next, you want to consider things like your seating arrangements and the layout of your dining room. Safety is your top consideration, so ensure tables are at least 6 feet apart from one another, and avoid large parties. Consider adding extra safety measures like sneeze guards or partitions, and remove options like buffets and self-service drink fountains, as these could spread harmful pathogens. 

It’s important that you determine the maximum occupancy you can accept. Each locality has its own guidelines on the percentage occupancy that is acceptable as COVID-19 evolves. Usually when restaurants first reopen, it is with 25%-50% occupancy. Determine how you will monitor this, and appoint some of your employees to be in charge. 

Also decide how you will follow social distancing while customers wait for a table. You do not want to have people close together in a small waiting area like you may have done in the past. Instead, have them first check in and wait in their cars, or spread customers out inside your space if you have the room. You may want to consider offering online reservations so that customers don’t have to venture inside to check in. 

Prepare Your Staff

It will be critical to ensure proper coverage as you reopen your dining room. To start, adjust staff schedules to account for both on- and off-premises staff. This means including front-of-house staff again, while still keeping enough staff to fulfill online orderscurbside pickupand delivery. Don’t get caught off guard if on-premises dining is slow at first. It will continue to grow as customers become more comfortable going out. 

Keep in mind—life post COVID-19 will be a new normal. Staff responsibilities and tasks may change from what they were before, so you may need to reallocate labor to new areas. Servers may need to now also be in charge of packing up to-go orders, for example. You may even need to rehire. 

Ensure that staff is properly trained on the new policies and procedures. They should know that safety is #1. ServeSafe offers training and certification that can help get everyone up to speed and properly educated. It is important for your staff to understand new expectations, and be willing to be flexible as the situation evolves. 

It’s critical that your staff understands sick policies as well—if they have any illness, they should not come to work. Employee screening (including body temperature measurement) should be done upon shift arrival to ensure everyone is healthy and able to work safely. 

Maximize Safety and Sanitation

Make sure you’re aware of and following CDC guidelines for both communities and restaurants as you reopen your dining rooms. In order to effectively ensure safety, make sure you are well-stocked on critical supplies like: 

  • Masks 
  • Gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand soap
  • Cleaning solutions

Beyond that, you should reevaluate your normal cleaning routines to amp up the intensity. You should have a plan in place to clean every table, tray, payment processor, and menu after every use. Increase the cleaning frequency for commonly touched surfaces and bathrooms especially. Limit the number of customers that can enter between cleanings, and post signs for awareness and peace of mind. Increase the cleaning regimen for high-entry areas such as doors, hostess stands, and waiting areas as well. Make sure to use high-quality disinfectants that are either single use or are properly sanitized between uses. 

Food safety is of utmost importance. Avoid buffets and grab-and-go stations to minimize cross-contamination. Make sure all serving tools and utensils are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. For to-go items, ensure packages are properly sealed

Optimize Your Technology

As restaurants shift back to on-premises dining, know that off-premises dining will continue to be a top revenue driver. Although many customers miss on-premises dining and will quickly return to it, many will still be wary and continue ordering for pickup or delivery. 

COVID-19 has caused consumers to grow accustomed to the convenience and ease of ordering food via restaurant websites and apps. We anticipate your customers will want to continue this, even as restrictions lift. 

Because of this, a comprehensive restaurant management system is crucial. Restaurants need an integrated point of saleonline orderingdelivery, and loyalty program. The combination of these integral tools will be essential in helping you deliver a consistent, efficient, and amazing guest experience—no matter when, where, or how they interact with your restaurant. 

As you reopen, it is crucial to your bottom line that you remain strategic and profitable. An integrated restaurant management system can help by:

  • Allowing you to view and manage reports to see the percentage of on-premises vs. off-premises sales
  • Monitoring menu items and promotions to see what is most profitable and how you should adjust to maximize profits
  • Collecting and own all customer data to effectively market to your customers by sending them personalized offers and promotions
  • Rewarding customers using your loyalty program regardless of how they place their order

Is your restaurant prepared for a post-pandemic world? As we navigate through COVID-19, HungerRush is here to provide you with the cutting-edge restaurant technology solutions required to find success in the toughest industry on earth. Check out our Restaurant Recovery Roadmap ebook or request a demo at HungerRush today to generate your restaurant reopening plan.

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Top 4 Ways to Ensure Safe Off-Premises Operations and Drive Restaurant Revenue

Top 4 Ways to Ensure Safe Off-Premises Operations and Drive Restaurant Revenue

For restaurants, the pandemic is the start of a new normal. Off-premises dining became the only option for restaurants to bring in sales during COVID-19. It’s wise for restaurants to be set up with off-premises dining options, including no-contact online ordering, pickup, and delivery. Even now, as restrictions and closures begin to lift, restaurants still need to maintain a heavy focus on off-premises dining, since customers may be understandably wary to return to dine-in activities. This presents new challenges, especially since restaurants must keep their customers safe and help slow the spread of COVID-19 by adhering to safe and sanitary operations and guidelines. 

1. Offer No Contact Delivery, Payment, and Pickup

Because everyone is aware of the health and safety concerns with COVID-19, it’s essential that your customers feel as safe as possible in their dining experience, from order to fulfillment. There are a few ways you can accomplish this.

The first is a no-contact delivery option, which is perhaps the most effective way to ensure safety. You can do this through your own restaurant, or integrated third-party services. Delivery staff can drop off orders at customers’ doors and let them know when it’s ready by phone call or text. Contact is not only minimized, it is entirely avoided.

The second is a no-contact payment option. Your online ordering system should ideally be set up to take payments through your website or app, making the process quick, easy, and secure— all while ensuring your customers’ safety. If that’s not possible with your business, you can accept credit card orders over the phone. If you must accept cards in person, you may have to alter your processes to limit contact as much as possible. For example, the employee can hold the payment processor, or the processor can be covered, so all the customer has to do is insert their card, no button or signing required. It’s best to avoid cash, but if needed, make sure your employees wear gloves when handling cash, and changing them after every transaction. 

The third is through no-contact curbside pickup and takeout options. Even as restrictions are being lifted, curbside pickup is becoming the norm. It’s important to have an efficient and safe pickup system in place, understanding the best use of the space outside your restaurant. It should have clearly marked entrance and exit paths, with signs and cones, to make it easy for customers and staff to navigate. Include parking spots for customers to wait in their cars and have their food brought to them, and a pickup table for customers to grab their food themselves if preferred. Consider technology that enables customers to notify restaurants upon arrival for no-contact pickup. 

Staff members should be properly trained on all of these options, and on the most efficient and sanitary ways to do so. 

2. Leverage an Integrated Restaurant Loyalty Program

With restrictions in place it hasn’t been an option to communicate directly with customers, as many choose to—or have no choice but to—stay home. This is why a restaurant loyalty program is more crucial now more than ever.

Loyalty programs enable you to stay in contact with your customers. They prevent customer relationships from slipping, since you can use customer data from a loyalty program to send emails, mailers, and text messages to communicate with them. This contact can include updates on business hours, menu changes, ordering and fulfillment options, and ways you are prioritizing safety. 

With data from your loyalty program and POS system, you can create and promote personalized offers to your customers. For example, cater to what they like—don’t offer them the meat lover’s special if they regularly order a veggie burger. The idea is to turn data into actionable insights; tailored offers create much more personal customer experiences that are more likely to be ordered and remembered. Some examples of ideas are spreading the word about specials that you may have newly implemented during COVID-19 to keep customers engaged and excited, such as family bundles and meal kits.

A loyalty program is a tool that can be leveraged to encourage and reward loyal customers. It’s important to make sure your customers know their business is appreciated during this time. Because this is a special time, consider adjusting your loyalty rewards to match your adjusted business model, like giving extra points for delivery and family bundles.

3. Prioritize Safe Food Handling and Packaging

Safety and health are the number-one priorities during this pandemic. To keep your employees and customers safe, proper food handling and packaging is essential.

Ensure food is prepared properly and follows safe time and temperature requirements for optimal safety. Prevent cross-contamination among ingredients, meals, and kitchen supplies, like knives and cutting boards. Properly and regularly follow cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Ensure sick employees stay home and consider screening upon return by checking their temperature before their shift. Lastly, properly seal and minimize tampering for to-go containers, using receipt labels to do so. These are only a few tips to ensure safety and sanitation in your restaurant.

4. Promote Restaurant Gift Cards 

Gift cards can be a great way to immediately generate revenue and interest for your business. This, with your online ordering, pickup, and delivery efforts, should be optimized to drive restaurant sales during the pandemic. 

Gift cards can be promoted and sold during pick-up orders at your restaurant, or even promoted during the order and delivered with an online order. Electronically is the ideal today; customers can purchase gift cards online and have it sent to their email, eliminating contact altogether. This is also a great way to encourage customers to buy them as gifts for others—all they have to do is pre-pay for an electronic gift card and have it sent to friends and family.

Spread the word about gift cards through email and social media, and leverage holidays, such as the upcoming Mother’s Day, as gift opportunities for their loved ones. You can even offer special deals, such as BOGO half-off, and extra loyalty rewards for gift card purchases, like double points on gift card spending.

Thrive Beyond COVID-19

There are still ways to thrive in the new normal of off-premises operations. Off-premises dining is expected to remain the top choice even after restrictions are lifted and doors open back up. Therefore, restaurants should be looking for ways to maximize sales, strengthen customer loyalty, and prepare their businesses for the future. 

HungerRush offers a range of revenue-boosting technology, such as HungerRush Online Ordering and Loyalty Program solutions, which integrate seamlessly into your POS and can assist you in your off-premises operations. For more information, view our Survival Guide Ebook, or contact an expert at HungerRush today! 

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Build-Your-Own Meal Kit: How Restaurants Can Modify Their Traditional Business Model to Thrive

Build-Your-Own Meal Kit: How Restaurants Can Modify Their Traditional Business Model to Thrive

With the massive changes that the hospitality industry has recently undergone because of COVID-19, restaurant owners are looking for ways to modify their business models to adapt and overcome new challenges as they arise. Even as dine-in restrictions begin to lift, off-premises dining continues to remain the top revenue-driver for restaurants nationwide because of the safety and convenience it brings consumers. One of the new restaurant trends benefiting both owners and customers in today’s evolving industry is build-your-own meal kits. 

What is a Build-Your-Own Meal Kit? 

A build-your-own meal kit contains all the ingredients needed for customers to prepare, cook, and serve their favorite dishes from your establishment in the comfort of their own homes. It provides exact measurements for each ingredient as well as instructions on how to prepare the dish at home. 

These kits have been slowly growing in demand over the past several years—initially offered through subscription services—and the demand continues to grow. In fact, the $2.2 billion meal kit industry is expected to grow 25% to 30% by 2022

A trend motivating customers to cook from home could be concerning to restaurant owners, however, this actually provides a huge opportunity for the savvy restaurateur to get in the game and expand their off-premises services during and after COVID-19.  

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How Restaurant Meal Kits Benefit Both You and Your Customers

Benefit for Customers: 

Fulfills Their Needs

Over the past decade, there has been a growing shift towards health-conscious lifestyles. Meal kits fill the need for healthy, homemade meals at a reasonable cost. Customers love this option, as it gives them a wider variety of choices for meals, rather than relying on just grocery shopping or regular takeout. 

An Exciting Experience

Meal kits allow your customers to prepare a meal at home with their friends and family, which provides for a great customer experience even off-premises. Many restaurants are offering promotions and reduced-cost options to get customers to try this service and try the new experience for themselves. 

Peace of Mind

mid COVID-19 concerns and the aftermath, many customers are concerned about venturing to public places. Meal kits allow customers to pick up their dinner via curbside pickup or have them delivered to their doors, which limits the number of trips they need to make and keeps them feeling safer. 

Same-Day Fulfillment

Restaurants have the upper hand over subscription meal kits in this instance. Restaurants can offer same-day fulfillment when customers order meal kits, while online competitors require subscription packages and extra time to allow for shipment and delivery (plus added costs of shipping). This allows customers to get the meals they want, whenever they want them. 

Benefit for Restaurants: 

Optimize Costs

There are several benefits that restaurants can enjoy with meal kit preparation over preparing food in-house. The first is optimizing costs. Meal kit preparation takes out most of the labor costs, since food only needs to be measured out, packed, and delivered, instead of being fully cooked and prepared. This allows you to push inventory and maximize inventory profitability, since fewer costs are required for labor. 

An Additional Revenue Stream

Meal kits also provide an additional revenue stream for restaurants. Due to COVID-19, off-premises dining options have been all the more crucial. Even as restaurants begin to open their dining rooms back up, customers may still want more meal options and variety from the comfort of their home. Meal kits allow you to offer an additional takeout and delivery option aside from prepared takeout and delivery. 

Enhanced Customer Experience

Build-your-own meal kits can enhance the customers’ dining experience, even from their home. Thanks to your meal kit, families and friends can make new memories and create new experiences from their homes, emotionally connecting to your brand, strengthening their loyalty to your business and driving repeat sales. You know your customers already love your food; meal kits take their admiration to the next level and give them more opportunities to interact with your brand and enjoy your meals in a new light.

5 Tips to Maximize the Success of Build-Your-Own Meal Kits 

  1. Consider switching up your regular menu to offer new and exciting dishes to encourage customers to order meal kits that they can’t get in-restaurant. Get innovative! For example, if you’re known for Italian pasta dishes, think about a meal kit with different pasta shapes, sauces, and toppings, otherwise something your customers can’t normally get all at once at your restaurant. Try out a different meal kit promotion for each day of the week, such as a chicken dinner on Monday, taco kit on Tuesday, etc. Meal kits allow your customers to enjoy the high-quality food they love from your establishment, all while keeping interest, variety, and creativity in building their own dish.
  2. Promote your meal kits with digital marketing. Generate interest by, for instance, taking a video of one of your chefs preparing the kit in the restaurant kitchen to show how easy it is to prepare at home. Then, generate interest by posting it to one or more of your social channels. You can even use social media and email marketing to share your meal kit options, and offer any promotions to try out your new service—like 20% off their first kit purchased, or double loyalty program points.
  3. Invest in quality packaging. This is so important for transporting ingredients and keeping them fresh and looking good from your restaurant to their kitchen. Not only is this crucial in customer satisfaction and safety, it can offer a unique branding opportunity by personalizing your packaging. Keep your kits safe and secure by using tamper-proof labels to properly fasten packaging.
  4. Good instructions increase quality control. It’s important to provide clear and concise preparation guidelines so that your meal kit dishes taste the same, or as close as possible, as if it were prepared in-house.
  5. Make it easy for your staff by relying on an integrated restaurant management system. This includes a system to keep track of online ordering and delivery, your loyalty program, and point of sale transactions. An integrated system collects and keeps all your customers’ data in one place. It can even make it easy for you to adjust your menu on the fly—for example, if you run out of an ingredient mid-day, an integrated tech suite can immediately update your meal kits across all of your restaurant’s platforms, keeping things running smoothly and your customers’ expectations in line. Reporting will be a breeze, which is especially important as you test your new meal kit service and keep a close eye on your profit margin.

HungerRush is an innovative restaurant management system that includes industry-designed HungerRush Online Ordering and loyalty, which helps restaurants cater to their customers’ needs no matter the industry circumstances. Our scalable, flexible solutions provide restaurants with the tools required to optimize their business and remain profitable in today’s changing economy. Interested in learning more about how your restaurant can adapt to thrive? Request a Free Demonstration. Ready for more from HungerRush?

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Restaurant Menu Modification: How Flexibility is Crucial to Survive COVID-19

Restaurant Menu Modification: How Flexibility is Crucial to Survive COVID-19

Social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home restrictions during the COVID-19 outbreak make it necessary for restaurants to innovate. Online ordering and delivery, already growing in popularity, are now keeping the restaurant industry alive as dine-in options are halted. The good news is that consumer demand for easy, quick, and delicious meals isn’t diminishing, even if dine-in traffic has. But implementation of these options requires adjustments.

Restaurant Flexibility Is Imperative

Pandemic policies, guidelines, and predictions are changing by the week, if not the day. Restaurants must evolve practices to keep business healthy and customers safe. Many restaurants are taking control of the situation rather than relinquishing it. They are developing their business in ways they didn’t expect—and seeing success as a result. Changes to their business model, marketing efforts, scheduling and labor management, and community outreach are necessary to survive the pandemic and come out ahead. Your menu also requires flexibility because takeout and delivery conditions and requirements are different from dining in. In a recent webinar, Sean Rowe owner of Saint Angelo’s Pizza, shared marketing strategies and unique menu additions that have helped his business thrive during COVID-19. View webinar recording now.

Benefits of a Modified Restaurant Menu 

You want to remain open for online ordering and delivery in order to keep your business going; but you also want to maximize profitability as much as possible. Restaurant menu modification helps you strike the right balance. Tailoring your offerings has several benefits:

  • Optimized Restaurant Inventory Costs. Because food is one of the biggest expenses for a restaurant, it’s crucial to reduce and streamline those costs. The fewer options on your menu, the less inventory required. Reducing the number of ingredients you use overall may lead to higher profitability by cutting out some purchasing requirements. Offering meals that share many of the same ingredients can optimize your inventory even more. Needing fewer ingredients will also help you weather any changes or disruptions in your supply chain. 
  • Optimized Restaurant Labor Costs. A reduced menu allows the restaurant to fulfill orders with a lighter staff than before. This especially helps when rearranging roles, as staff can more easily move around from food prep to front of the house as needed. This optimization is highly beneficial to your bottom line, since labor is another one of the costliest restaurant expenses, along with inventory
  • Providing New and Exciting Offers to Your Customers. Instead of promoting it as a “reduced” menu, think of it more as a “specialized” menu. Many restaurants are switching up their menu each week to keep things interesting for their customers. Specials of the day or week, bundle deals, and more will keep your customers excited and engaged. 

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Tips for Optimal Restaurant Menu Modification

Creating an ideal takeout and delivery menu takes some thought and planning. You want to focus on your best sellers and signature dishes, but not everything will transfer well from dine-in to delivery options. One consideration is prep time: if a dish requires a lot of prep, and then delivery time is added onto that, it will take longer than the customer is willing to wait. You’ll also need to calculate a delivery radius your drivers can reach efficiently so that prep time + delivery time = a reasonable order time for the customer. 

Also consider which items will travel well, and which won’t. In part, that will depend on the quality of your packaging. You’ll want containers that are the appropriate size to keep food from sliding around in transit; separate containers for toppings, sauces, or condiments that could get messy or let the food get soggy, and insulated travel bags to keep hot foods warm enough (without excess condensation) and cold foods cold. 

Pizza and Chinese takeout have long been delivery staples. Other travel-friendly items include burgers, sandwiches and wraps; finger foods, such as fried chicken or wings; and simple sides and desserts such as breadsticks and cookies. Again, dishes that have common ingredients will optimize inventory costs.  

If you’re concerned about how well a fully cooked dish would travel, consider packaging the ingredients for a 1-2 serving meal and allowing the customer to assemble and cook it themselves for maximum freshness. Creating bundled deals and family packs (for example, spaghetti, salad, and garlic rolls for four) works well for parents that are looking for an easy way to feed an entire family. 

For really outside-the-box thinking, some restaurants are including non-food items on their delivery menus. They have surplus items such as toilet paper and cleaning supplies that aren’t currently being used in their dine-in facilities—and that are increasingly hard to find in grocery stores—so they’re offering them to customers. A bonus “side” of toilet paper or hand sanitizer certainly adds novelty as well as convenience. No matter what’s on your modified restaurant menu, promote your offers through digital marketing to maximize exposure and engagement.

Technology That Makes It Easy

With all of the unpredictabilities of the restaurant industry, especially under current conditions, it’s essential to have technology that can change with your business needs. An innovative, integrated restaurant management system including point of sale (POS), online ordering and delivery support, and loyalty programs can help your restaurant stay efficient and profitable no matter the needs of the current market. Look for a system that has easy-to-use restaurant menu modification features so you can make changes as needed, whether you are changing your menu, pricing, or item availability (if you run out of an ingredient). An integrated system will allow changes to be reflected on all ordering platforms immediately for a seamless customer experience.

Also look for tech providers that are listening to client needs and responding to the latest industry issues—for example, developing features such as curbside pickup and no-contact delivery options, or remote software installation, as necessitated by the pandemic. HungerRush has years of industry experience and a team of experts creating solutions such as HungerRush Online Ordering that can set your business up for success during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond. Learn more about the latest tools and features of our integrated systems by requesting a personalized demo today. 

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Why You Should Offer Restaurant Curbside Pickup

Why You Should Offer Restaurant Curbside Pickup

Businesses and consumers everywhere are having to adjust to “new normals” in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. But even with social distancing and the implications of spending less time on the go and more time at home, consumers still want quality meals from their favorite restaurants. Food anxiety and concerns about grocery store shortages are also encouraging more consumers to reach out to their favorite dining spots for meals. Here are several reason why you should offer restaurant curbside pickup:

To follow many state guidelines, restaurants across the country have suspended dine-in operations leaving two options: carryout or delivery. Many restaurants now offer a modified version of carryout called curbside pickup, where customers can pick up their orders placed online, via mobile app, or over the phone right from the restaurant parking lot. Restaurant employees can either bring the order directly to the customer’s car, or orders can be placed on tables for pickup outside as a no-contact option. This minimal-contact option has significant benefits for both customers and restaurants. It helps restaurants stay afloat during the outbreak by bringing in sales until more regular activities resume.

Benefits During the Pandemic and Beyond

In the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, restaurant traffic declined by nearly 48% by mid-March. Despite the drop in traffic and sales initially, we are hearing more and more success stories of restaurants gaining business after implementing online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup services. These options help consumers maintain CDC guidelines on social distancing while still enjoying a meal from their favorite restaurant. Plus, these services are safer for employees as well as customers.

When the coronavirus threat dies down and activities return to normal, many customers will want to continue the conveniences offered during the pandemic. Restaurant curbside pickup can help busy families pick up meals to go when life is too hectic to sit down for a meal at a restaurant. Because of this, you might want to consider turning temporary pickup stations into a permanent fixture. Think of the poster-board signs that some restaurants set up; these makeshift pickup stations may serve an ongoing purpose. 

Quick-service restaurants can also benefit from a program that allows customers to place an order ahead of time and have it brought out to their car when they arrive, providing another option besides the drive-thru. It’s perfect for the lunch rush, as well as for people who have short work breaks and are on the move. Curbside pickup will be an added tool in a restaurant’s arsenal long after the COVID-19 pandemic slows because it fulfills a primary customer desire of convenience. Hear from Mo Assi, owner of Crush Taco, how he was able to quickly shift to off-premises and thriveView webinar recording now.

How to Maximize Restaurant Curbside Pickup Success

Once restaurants have implemented a curbside pickup solution, they should work toward increasing sales and profitability using this option. Just having it will keep your business going; taking full advantage will help you grow. Follow these tips to maximize success for your operation:

  • Logistics: Create a plan and stick to it. Properly train employees so they know how the system works and the best way to ensure a smooth experience for your customers from order to meal completion. Review the process and take input from employees on how to boost efficiency and improve the customer experience. 
  • Food Packaging: How you package food makes all the difference for your customers. Hot foods need to be kept warm, and cold foods cold. Secure packaging is also important for safe transport as nobody wants spills in their car. Consider printers that print secure food labels to close packages and help keep them sealed, like those offered by HungerRush. As an added bonus for customers, include a coupon or loyalty reward that can be scanned as a QR code or entered into a mobile app/rewards program. This incentive encourages customers to use the service and keeps them coming back.
  • Marketing: Spreading the word about your restaurant’s curbside pickup service is critical so that customers know the option exists. Restaurants with mobile apps can exploit this capability to send push notifications and in-app specials. Post the details on social media platforms, simultaneously building your brand by emphasizing your commitment to offering customers safe and convenient options. Leverage the power of your loyalty program integrated into your point of sale (POS) to send personalized messaging and promotions to those in your customer database. And on all marketing avenues, promote specialized offers to go along with curbside pickup when you first implement it. For example, offer“buy one get one” meal deals, or a free drink with a large pizza, which can be enough to get diners to try it out. 

Align Tech to Streamline the Process

Now more than ever, it is essential that your restaurant technology should align to make it easier to implement and execute restaurant curbside pickup. Your online ordering platform, point of sale system, restaurant app, and loyalty program should all be integrated. Integration creates a streamlined operation from the kitchen to the customer’s table, ensuring happy customers and helping your restaurant build a loyal customer base that will come back time and time again. It’s also essential to ensure that your systems work well with third-party apps and delivery services, so that you can use them for support and still retain ownership of your customer data. 

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Restaurant Curbside Pickup Means Crisis Survival and Future Profits

COVID-19 has changed the way restaurants operate. Now is the time to take advantage of restaurant curbside pickup as the benefits will last far beyond the pandemic. Technology is an ally to help you implement the options that will allow you to stay profitable despite these uncertain times. HungerRush is a leading provider of industry-specific solutions, including online ordering with curbside pickup functionality, tailored to the needs of your restaurant. To find out more about our integrated restaurant management system, request a demo today. You can also download our Restaurant Survival Guide, a free e-book with additional advice on getting through the crisis and coming back strong. 

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