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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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How to Set Up and Train Your Staff to Optimize Restaurant Delivery During COVID-19

How to Set Up and Train Your Staff to Optimize Restaurant Delivery During COVID-19

With  the COVID-19 pandemic causing restaurants in most areas to close in-house dining facilities, choosing to add online ordering and delivery has become critical for business survival. Third-party and/or on-demand delivery services can be beneficial if they are integrated into your systems to help streamline ordering and retain ownership of your customer’s information. However, increased reliance on third-party delivery services impacts restaurant profitability, driving restaurant owners to set up their own delivery services to protect profits and reach more customers. Additionally, it’s more profitable to cut out the middle-man. When setting up in-house delivery, restaurant owners need to consider the following five things to protect and optimize their business—and their staff—during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Properly Allocate Staff to New Delivery-Oriented Functions 

Since dine-in traffic is nonexistent during the pandemic, analyze the best way to reallocate your staff to offer delivery. First, determine the volume of delivery staff needed and what your schedule will look like (are you keeping the same operating hours, expanding, or reducing them?). Next, determine which staff members have the best fit, experience, and compatibility for what you are looking for in the new roles. Next, determine your top-performing staff and ask if they would be willing to switch job tasks until dine-in traffic resumes. Set up and execute a training program to teach these employees their new job functions and expectations. They will likely appreciate the hours and their skills being used in other ways until the pandemic passes.

If delivery demand is greater than what you can execute with current staff, hiring new delivery drivers may be necessary. Look for people with delivery experience, a good driving record, and the flexibility and willingness to work the hours you allocated

Ensure Protection with Insurance

New business avenues and staff requirements mean new risks and liabilities. Review your insurance policies to make sure you are covered for changing job tasks and expanding delivery options. Insurance that will be crucial for delivery operations includes:

  • Commercial General Liability Insurance: It’s important to cover a wide range of common liabilities such as slips and falls, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.
  • Auto Insurance: It’s critical for delivery since this is how your staff will fulfill orders. You’ll need to protect your business when using company vehicles, to cover any potential accidents or injuries. 

Provide Training and Security Measures to Protect Delivery Drivers

Staff training should include best practices to ensure that delivery is as safe as possible for your staff as well as your customers. 

  • For Delivery: No contact delivery is a growing trend amid COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Offering this option is not only appealing to customers but helps protect the health of your staff. Train staff fulfilling orders in this way—leaving the items on the doorstep or in the apartment lobby and letting the customer know when it has arrived via text or call. 
  • For Payment Collection: As with the delivery hand-off, customers and staff should avoid as much contact as possible when collecting payment. The best way to do this is by no contact payment: requesting that the order be paid by debit or credit card when it is placed. If this isn’t an option or you are also still collecting cash/curbside payments, train your staff on the best way to handle the process: wearing gloves, keeping their distance, keeping cash in a separate sealed container, and sanitizing the payment processor after each use.

Discuss and Encourage Delivery Driver Etiquette

Drivers should be sensitive to customer concerns over safety and remain as careful as possible. In addition to contactless delivery and maintaining social distancing, staff should be willing to wear masks and gloves if/when necessary. They should also make sure food is handled and packaged safely—with the smallest possible number of people involved in handling each order. Use wrapped silverware, napkins, and sealed drinks whenever possible. Look for label printers that can be used to seal orders to ensure it is secure and untampered with. Finally, have them wipe and sanitize their devices, packaging, and car after each shift. Providing masks, gloves, wipes, and sanitizer is a great way to ensure the safety of your staff and customers, as well as strengthening the message that you are doing everything you can to maximize safety. 

Encourage your staff to be patient and flexible with customers during this time of uncertainty. They need to be willing to make adjustments as the situation evolves. 

Streamline the Delivery Process with Technology

With the restaurant industry being impacted heavily by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to remain as efficient as possible. To best optimize delivery, leverage technology that will give you the visibility and control needed to maximize productivity. An integrated restaurant management system with point of sale (POS), online ordering, delivery, and loyalty built-in is the best choice. If it also integrates with third-party provider platforms, that’s even better. 

Another useful feature is Google Maps integration, which can provide an operator view of all drivers, give drivers the fastest and shortest routes, and triage/speed up deliveries in real time. An integrated system will not only help you maximize needed revenue during the current crisis, but will also set you up for continued success when life becomes more normal again.

But even the best tech is only useful if you have good employees to do the work. Show your appreciation for staff who are willingly and diligently working during this national pandemic. A little appreciation goes a long way in retaining talented staff

HungerRush is a leading provider of technology solutions designed specifically for restaurant needs. To find out more about how our solutions can keep you afloat through the pandemic and help you thrive afterward, request a demo today. And for more tips on getting your business through these changing times, check out our free Restaurant Survival Guide e-book. 

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How to Set Up Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Crucial Component During COVID-19

How to Set Up Online Ordering for Restaurants: A Crucial Component During COVID-19

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, online ordering was already a huge and lucrative opportunity for restaurants, with over half of restaurant spending projected to take place off-premise in 2020. Now, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused a shift in consumer behavior, whether mandated by the government or a self-imposed decision to stay away from dine-in restaurants. As the stay-at-home and social distancing directives continue, online ordering and delivery may be the only options restaurants have to remain open and serve guests.

As overall economic activity slows, you have the opportunity to catch up on restaurant technology. Here’s how to set up online ordering for restaurants to future-proof your business. 

Assess Your Restaurant Needs

Every restaurant is different, and before you decide on the specifics of an online ordering system, it’s important to determine your individual needs. Some questions to consider:

  • What will I need to purchase in order to launch online ordering? At a minimum, you’ll need to-go packaging and online ordering technology (including a website and mobile app). If you add in delivery, you’ll need transport bags, drivers, and vehicles (and insurance for them).
  • How much staff will I need to execute an online ordering system? You’ll need people to prep, cook, package, and fulfill the orders (in-store take-out, curbside pickup transactions, or delivery, or all of them). If your dine-in facilities are closed because of the outbreak, you can reallocate staff such as servers or bussers to new positions as needed. As your online business accelerates, you may need to hire more people.
  • Will the online ordering channels integrate with my restaurant point of sale (POS) system? Integration is crucial for efficiency, accuracy, and data capture.

You’ll also need to evaluate your online ordering options:

  • Integrated online ordering with your POS and delivery vehicles branded with your restaurant’s name
  • Pros:  The majority of consumers prefer to order directly from a restaurant. By doing so, you can control all touch points with the customer to ensure you’re creating stronger loyalty and a better experience. Integrated online ordering allows for less order errors and greater revenue per order for owners. You’ll also get to keep 100% of your customer data. 
  • Cons: You may need more staff to handle delivery in-house. However, as online orders increase, phone orders may decrease, freeing up resources and labor. You also may have to devote more attention to marketing in order to promote your online availability and capture a wider audience. 
  • Third-party online ordering using providers such as DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub, etc.
  • Pros: You can reach more consumers who may not be aware of your restaurant until they see it on the third-party site or app. Additionally, delivery tasks are out of your hands with third-party providers—they’ll pick up and deliver the food for you.
  • Cons: You’ll keep less of your profits—some third-party providers take as much as 30% in fees. You may have technology integration issues. For example, if your systems aren’t integrated, you may receive orders through Uber Eats and have to manually enter them into your POS system. Juggling multiple systems or doing double entries during peak hours is not ideal. And, if your systems aren’t integrated, you often don’t own the customer data, making it harder to grow  loyalty.

There are good and bad aspects for each option. Ultimately, you need to choose the one that’s right for you. The best solution may be to partner with a third-party for overflow during peak hours when you are short on drivers, or to help expand outside of your normal delivery areas.

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Plan to Maximize Your Exposure 

When determining if and how to set up online ordering for restaurants, owners should know that one of the main benefits is the increased audience and opportunities for sales. To maximize your exposure and online ordering strategy when offering it through your restaurant, be sure to:

  • Optimize Your Website: Make sure your website is set up to have an updated, detailed digital menu that reflects your brand and showcases your food—especially because there is more space online for appealing photos, descriptions, and nutritional information. Set up and test the online ordering process prior to launch to ensure it’s working smoothly and delivering the best user experience. The process should be responsive, secure, and require minimal steps for the customer to place their order and checkout.
  • Consider a Mobile App: Branded mobile apps complement your website to provide an optimal online ordering strategy and is  especially important if you operate a franchise or multi-unit business. Not only does an app give you an even greater online reach, it also strengthens customer relationships, accessibility and enhances brand loyalty. 

Establish an Integrated Customer Loyalty Program

If you don’t have one already, launching a customer loyalty program integrated with your online ordering platform is a great way to motivate customers to try it out. If you do have one, now is the time to encourage customers to log in and collect/redeem rewards online. With an integrated loyalty program, you can better collect and manage your customer data, which is crucial as you add more ordering channels. You want to maximize data collected from customers no matter which ordering path they choose in order to create and execute more personalized marketing messaging

A loyalty program also keeps customers even more connected with your brand, and increases the chance they will order again—even up to four times more per month. It can be a crucial tool in encouraging online ordering by rewarding customers for doing so (by offering discounts and specials online for rewards members). It’s especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, since you can only interact digitally for now. 

The Next Steps Toward Restaurant Online Ordering Implementation

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way restaurants operate. Without the proper online ordering platform, your restaurant could have difficulties getting your food to your customers. Amid anxieties about grocery shortages and food availability, customers are flocking to restaurants that are offering online ordering for takeout, curbside pickup or delivery. They’re especially interested in restaurants who can offer unique fulfillment options during this time, such as contact less delivery and curbside pickup. Because of these new needs, this is an opportune time to assess technology investments that will help your restaurant or chain survive and take it to the next level when the pandemic has passed. The best strategy is to implement an integrated point of sale, loyalty, and delivery support with the HungerRush online ordering solution. When you use the same provider for all of your restaurant tech needs, everything is automated and efficient, making it easier than ever to scale your business to address the current situation while preparing for the future. 

To learn more about the HungerRush online ordering solution, request a demo today. You can also download our free ebook of strategies to protect your revenue and reduce costs while surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Join us on the morning of April 14 for a free webinar on how restaurants can protect their revenue and profitability during these unexpected times. Click here to save your spot! 

Demystifying the Cloudiness in Cloud-Based POS Systems

Demystifying the Cloudiness in Cloud-Based POS SystemsA recent article from Reforming Retail discussed the reasoning behind a recent acquisition of Cloud POS provider.  The reasoning was to make the provider more competitive and address market needs.  As I read through the article, I was reminded that the ambiguity surrounding the Cloud moniker has now reached the Point of Sale industry.

There are many Venture Capital-backed upstarts and “Next Gen” POS solution providers claiming to be cloud based. It is becoming the buzz in the industry.  Just like Cloud Computing became an overused reference and everyone jumped on that bandwagon, the idea of having a Cloud POS system is becoming one, too.  What we are forgetting, and should be talking about, is the customer experience, not just the platform or method of delivery.  Let’s break it down a bit further….

Restaurant owners don’t wake up in the morning and say “Wow, I need to go to the cloud today!” (at least I hope they don’t).  What they are asking for is a better customer experience.  When considering a POS system, this means better availability and performance, a system that is easier to manage, and one that delivers key functionality needed to not only run part of their business but help them grow.

This makes complete sense and sounds reasonable, right?  Like many other industries have experienced, technology is helping transform the restaurant space and the Point of Sale experience is prime for disruption.  At HungerRush, we are not alone in this thinking. All you have to do is look at the volume of VC money pouring into startups, the investments from PE firms, and the competitive landscape in any category.  You’d think that all these resources should help drive a better customer experience.  Of course, companies want to consume it as-a-Service (SaaS), which lends itself to the software being delivered using modern technologies as opposed to outdated software and tools. 

Cloud is a platform and SaaS is a delivery model.  Talking to our customers and prospects, three consistent themes come up

  1. Mobile capabilities (tablets)
  2. Better availability and performance (user efficiency)
  3. Lower overhead associated with running the solution (cost management) 

 And, by the way, a nice modern user interface helps too.  The SaaS delivery model helps enable this.  With SaaS, updates are delivered in real-time and the software runs on a highly available and powerful computing environment.  Total cost of ownership is reduced as the customer does not have to invest expensive resources in supporting the solution on-premises like hardware, upgrades and local support while getting a faster time to value/benefit. 

These are all great things, but none really gets to the core of features that make software productive.  These core features allow restaurant owners to not only run their business but manage their costs while doing so.  At the same time, they are not having to work around the software – the software is working for them.  The software delivery model does not outweigh the need to focus on features and to know your customer.  We think a combination of functionality that is aligned with the right delivery model produces the best business result. 

At HungerRush, we believe that the right delivery model happens to be SaaS.  We also believe that every good SaaS model must have well-designed pricing and packaging options. Our customers, the restaurant owners, tell us they want software costs that are affordable and predictable.  They want to ensure access to new functionality as we implement it, and new technology as it evolves.  

We are fully committed to the SaaS delivery model and continue to invest in making our portfolio of solutions robust, scalable, easy to integrate with and easy to use.  In response to our customer’s desires, our 2019 and 2020 roadmap is focused on SaaS enablement, mobility, online ordering, and integrations.  We are excited to be continually innovating and delivering more value to our customers.

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How Restaurants Can Identify Savings Opportunities to Maximize Profits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

How Restaurants Can Identify Savings Opportunities to Maximize Profits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many industries hard, particularly the socially-oriented ones such as restaurant dining. The urgent need for social distancing to avoid spreading the virus is driving people to stay home and causing mandatory closing of dine-in facilities in many areas. Restaurants are now analyzing their business to find ways to survive and thrive during this change in consumer behavior. With the sharp declines in dine-in sales, maintaining profitability is a real concern. Keeping costs down and optimized is crucial, and now is the time to consider your options. Here are some strategies for reducing your expenses during COVID-19.

Analyze Your Restaurant Costs

There are two types of costs for restaurants: fixed (unchanging), and variable. It’s worth the time to analyze where your money is going, and identify which costs are variable and can be adjusted to help maintain your profit margin. Top costs for restaurants include:

  • Labor: This category includes staff wages, tip distribution, health insurance, and sick leave. Restaurants are a high-turnover industry, so recruitment and training are also labor cost factors.
  • Inventory: As one of the biggest costs besides labor, inventory is where you should focus next. Food accounts for the majority of inventory costs, but there’s also operational supplies (tableware, napkins, straws, cleaning supplies, packaging for takeout and delivery, and more). 
  • Occupancy: The costs you pay to occupy your building space include your rent (or mortgage payment), insurance, maintenance (garbage pickup, landscaping, parking lot lighting, etc.), property taxes, security, and any safety regulation compliance costs. 
  • Utilities: This category covers power (gas and/or electric), water/sewer, phone, and internet/Wi-Fi connection to run your point of sale (POS) and back-office equipment.
  • Equipment: Everything from stoves, grills, dishwashers, and refrigerators/freezers to POS and kitchen display system (KDS) terminals and back-office computers falls into this category.

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Identify Savings Opportunities for Variable Costs

Restaurant variable costs can be adjusted by making operational changes to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic circumstances.

  • Labor: It may be necessary to cut back on employee hours, at least temporarily. A beneficial option during this time might be to reallocate your staff as you shift your operational focus. With dine-in facilities shuttered, emphasizing online order fulfillment and delivery services can keep you going. Servers and hosts can help out with kitchen prep, become delivery drivers or assist with curbside pickup and distribution. Your POS should have labor scheduling and management features you can leverage to optimize your staff costs.
  • Inventory: Your first priority is to use up the food you have on hand to minimize waste and spoilage—especially with specialty items that have shorter shelf lives. You may also need to temporarily reduce your menu offerings and focus more tightly on your core menu. Identify a reduced selection of ingredients and plan meals based on those, creating a limited menu from these choices. To keep it interesting, restaurants can offer a “menu of the week” to rotate different meal options and promote through digital marketing avenues

You could also create meal deals based on the most popular items to offer families for quick “grab and go” service: spaghetti dinner for four, or a family burger bundle. Another option is to package the ingredients for a meal and let customers prepare the dish themselves at home with instructions you provide.

  • Utilities: Energy efficiency is key in keeping these costs down. Reducing your operating hours will help to lower these expenses, and you can conserve by not needing to run lights, air conditioning, etc. in dining space you aren’t using—just essential areas such as the kitchen and pickup/delivery areas. If you do adjust your operating hours, make sure that is reflected online wherever customers will be seeking information about your restaurant: Google maps and local search (or third-party partner) sites, social media channels, and on your website and mobile app. Customers need to know that you are still open, and when.
  • Equipment: Only using the equipment you need and cutting back on what is less necessary (dishwashers, for example, or laundry equipment for cloth napkins and tablecloths) will help trim the utility bills as well. You can also try strategies such as prepping and cooking meals in bulk to reduce equipment running time. This becomes easier with a scaled-back menu.

Stay Optimized with an Integrated Suite of Technology 

Technology is one cost that is vital to success during the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure you are leveraging a suite of restaurant tech that includes POS, KDS, online ordering and delivery management, website, and mobile app. The best tech choices will have features that can help you manage and streamline online orders and maintain communication and engagement with your customers. 

Keeping restaurant costs down is just part of the puzzle. Restaurants need to understand the big picture of COVID-19 and have a plan in place to not only reduce costs, but maximize profits. Download our free restaurant survival guide to learn how to protect revenue and profitability during these unexpected times.

HungerRush is a leading provider of restaurant technology designed by industry experts. For more information on how our integrated solutions can help your business survive and grow, request a demo today. 

Restaurant Survival Guide

Learn more about protecting revenue and profitability during unexpected times with HungerRush’s free restaurant survival guide ebook.

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Four Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Open New Doors During COVID-19

Four Restaurant Marketing Strategies That Will Open New Doors During COVID-19

The current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having a major impact on all sectors of public life. The need for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus has led to voluntary and mandatory shutdowns in many industries. As people avoid contact with each other (and especially crowds), restaurant dining has declined. Sales have decreased anywhere from 32% to 90% in some cases. Concern over losing major revenue during this time of unexpected change in consumer behavior means restaurants must re-evaluate their business and marketing strategies and focus on the areas that they can control. Here are four restaurant marketing strategies to help you survive until this crisis has passed.

1. Heavy Focus on Online Ordering and Delivery 

Although some restaurants have closed, most have guidelines stating that they cannot offer dine in, but delivery and take-out are still allowed. Capitalize on this lifeline by putting a heavy focus on your online ordering and delivery services. Delivery options can include in-person delivery and “no-contact delivery,” where the driver leaves the order at the customer’s doorstep or in their apartment lobby. Take-out options can include in-person pickup or curbside – having the order brought out to the customer’s car. 

Many consumers are worried about (or are currently experiencing) grocery store shortages as “panic buying” peaks. One restaurant marketing strategy is to use this concern in your messaging: assure consumers that you are still in business and can provide the delicious food they are used to having. For customers who are self-quarantined, a reliable food source can be a great relief; and income from delivery can be a great relief for your business.

If you don’t have in-house delivery, or if you find you need to cut staff or reduce overhead, you can partner with a third-party provider such as DoorDash. Having an integrated restaurant point of sale (POS) system will allow you to leverage third-party drivers to get your food to your customers while still retaining control of your customer data. 

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2. Encouraging Gift Card Purchases

Another way that patrons can infuse cash into restaurants while still adhering to social distancing guidelines is to purchase gift cards (preferably online) for future use. These purchases act almost as a “microloan” for consumers to support their favorite restaurants during this time of need. And the cards can stimulate additional income when they are redeemed: one survey found that 59% of consumers spend more than the card’s face value. Digital gift cards are the perfect way for your most loyal customers to support you without leaving the safety of their homes—and to help ensure you’re still operating normally when they can resume normal dining-out activities. 

3. Modifying Your Restaurant Loyalty Program 

A restaurant marketing strategy that can encourage customers to use online ordering and delivery and to purchase gift cards is to modify your existing loyalty program and ramp up rewards for these behaviors. For example, you could offer double points for gift card purchases, or a free drink with an online order. This tactic will help businesses reshape how patrons do business with their organizations and encourage them to continue supporting you during this abnormal time.

4. Leverage Digital Marketing to Spread the Word

Before the pandemic, you may have used a combination of traditional and digital marketing for your restaurant. Now, however, traditional methods such as in-store signage, billboards, and flyers will be less effective. Social distancing and self-isolation will make consumers even more dependent on their smartphones and devices to stay connected to the world and seek some form of normalcy. Digital will be the best restaurant marketing strategy to keep in touch with your customers and promote your new focuses. You can use a combination of social media and email marketing to spread the message that you are still available to provide customers with their favorite meals. Make sure your website and mobile app are up to date (especially your online menus!) and optimized for an exceptional customer experience. Do not forget to update your Google My Business listing with current hours of operation. Businesses may also adjust their services to reflect their current state of business. You may also leverage GMB posts to share important updates that customers will find helpful.

Stay Prepared with an Integrated Restaurant Management System

All restaurant marketing strategies can be made easier with the right technology. An integrated restaurant management system is the key to keeping your restaurant prepared no matter the changes in consumer behavior. 

HungerRush is a leading provider of restaurant technology that is continually tailored to meet evolving customer needs—such as our latest “no-contact delivery” feature updates available in our POS and online ordering platforms and coming soon for our mobile app customers. Request a demo today to learn how HungerRush can help your restaurant get through the Coronavirus pandemic and continue to grow beyond it. 

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The Next 30 Days and Beyond

Offer online ordering and on-demand delivery services with this limited time starter bundle to keep your restaurant running today and future-proof for tomorrow!

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How Restaurants Can Diversify to Account for Unexpected and Sudden Changes in Consumer Behavior

How Restaurants Can Diversify to Account for Unexpected and Sudden Changes in Consumer Behavior

In the restaurant business, sometimes unpredictable events can occur that disrupt everyday life. Things like pandemics, natural disasters, and other types of crises can turn everything on its head and present significant and unforeseen challenges to both consumers and businesses, not to mention a further toll on the economy. 

When unexpected events like this arise and restaurants are caught without a plan in place, it affects more than just profits. You can face a loss of customers, food safety concerns or serious inventory waste. If it is serious enough, you could end up unable to pay employees who depend on you for their living, or unable to serve customers who depend on you for meals.

In 2016, 55 people were infected in two E. coli outbreaks after eating at Chipotle. While the outbreaks were confined to those two locations, the widespread public fear caused significant losses in profits to the industry, let alone that particular chain. It resulted in significant damage to the brand, leading to a long and difficult recovery process.

Now is the perfect time to consider how your restaurant can operate should an unexpected event hinder or discourage people from visiting your store.

Consider the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and previous outbreaks of unfamiliar diseases. While the current chances of being infected by the virus are low, the fear of the unknown is causing a consumer panic that may have very real repercussions upon the economy. 

Are you prepared for what can happen when consumer confidence is low and unexpected issues cause sudden changes in consumer behavior? If not, here are a few ways you can diversify your business and be prepared:

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Offer a Variety of Ordering and Delivery Options

Regardless of the scenario, customers today want options. Providing these options not only makes your customers happy, but also protects your business should unexpected events arise that cause changes in consumer behavior. Protect revenue and drive customer loyalty during these uncertain times with these changing guest ordering expectations. View our on-demand webinar now.

The more options and different avenues you offer, the more of a chance you have in case of a sudden incident disrupting your restaurant.

Ordering

The goal here is to reach the widest audience possible, and offering a variety of ordering options does just that. Customers should be able to order their food:

  • In your restaurant
  • Over the phone
  • On your website
  • On your app
  • On third-party ordering platforms

The more options you offer, the more likely you are of not only increasing sales and broadening your audience, but also protecting your businesses in case sudden shifts in behaviors arise.

What would happen if your third-party partners put a halt to their services because of an unexpected event? You’d still want to give your customers multiple options so they can order from you in other ways, like pickup or take out. If you only offer one option, you will be without a solution if that option is no longer viable.

Delivery

It’s no secret that delivery is booming. Restaurant delivery is projected to grow at more than three times the rate of on-premise sales by 2023. The convenience and ability for customers to remain at home is very appealing to consumers today, and can be even more significant in case of a sudden event.

Similar to ordering, customers should have options for receiving their food:

  • Eat in your restaurant
  • Pickup at your restaurant
  • Get orders delivered

Should an unexpected event arise that causes customers to not want to leave their homes—like in the case of poor weather or an outbreak of a disease—you need to have a backup plan to serve these customers. Offering delivery both in-house and through third-party services can also help increase your reach and protect your business.

As the coronavirus becomes more of a nuisance, HungerRush has implemented a  “no-contact delivery”  feature updates available in our POS, Online Ordering platform and soon available for our mobile app customers, we also partner with DoorDash – which offers restaurants the ability to leverage DoorDash drivers to deliver to their customers as a white labeled service – this is especially helpful for those that may have to let go staff or need to reduce overhead due to the current crisis. The best part is you retain your customer data.   

Leverage a Restaurant Mobile App

An integrated mobile app provides an additional ordering avenue for your customers. It also is a great way to stay connected with your customers and remain top of mind. You can use it to send push notifications when you have important announcements or updates, like letting customers know your business is still open and operating during a crisis.

For example, after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, many customers struggled to find information on which restaurants were open for business. Push notifications and app updates can ensure your customers are never left guessing if your business is open or closed during abnormal times.

You can also use this method to send personalized promotions and offers to customers and stay relevant to strengthen your relationships with them. Loyal customers will want to do business with you when times are both good and bad.

An Integrated Restaurant POS is Crucial

The more options you offer to customers, the more important it becomes to implement an integrated restaurant point of sale system. Without an integrated solution, orders can be difficult to keep track of and customer data can be lost.

Make sure your POS system integrates with necessary solutions, like:

  • Online ordering platforms
  • Delivery services and delivery drivers
  • Your website and mobile app
  • Tablet POS
  • Kitchen display systems

Disorganization can wreak havoc upon your operation. It’s critical that you invest in an integrated, comprehensive system that allows you to manage all of your different avenues from one platform. An integrated system helps you stay organized, remain in control, and can safeguard your business from disruption. With these tools you can overcome unexpected or unforeseen challenges and keep yourself afloat during even the hardest times.

The experts at HungerRush are ready to help you prepare for the future of your business. We offer technology that is hand-tailored to fit the needs of your restaurant. Request a demo today to learn how our industry-leading technology can benefit your restaurant in good times and in bad.

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the Next 30 Days and Beyond

Offer online ordering and on-demand delivery services with this limited time starter bundle to keep your restaurant running today and future-proof for tomorrow!

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How 2020 Restaurant Trends are Transforming the Way Pizzerias Operate

How 2020 Restaurant Trends are Transforming the Way Pizzerias Operate

Ever since the first U.S. pizzeria opened in Manhattan in 1905, customer preferences—both in the pizzas themselves and how they’re obtained—have continually evolved. By the 1940s, pizzerias were opening all over the country, thanks in part to returning World War II soldiers who wanted to keep enjoying the food they’d been introduced to overseas. In the 1960s, pizza delivery took off as the hot trend. The rise of the internet in the 1990s led to the possibility of ordering pizza online from a website; and in 2009, the first mobile app for pizza ordering appeared. Future developments now being tested include drone delivery, driverless cars, and robot delivery, to make getting pizza easier than ever before.

Throughout all of these changes (and innovations in pizzas themselves, from deep dish to flavored crusts), pizzerias have had to keep adapting to meet customers’ shifting expectations in order to remain profitable. According to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA)  Restaurant Industry 2030 report, the restaurant industry is in the midst of a radical transformation, and a greater proportion of meals will no longer be cooked at home. This shift will provide huge opportunities for pizzerias, as long as owners are strategic. Here are how three key 2020 restaurant trends will affect how pizzerias run their business: 

Customer Demand for Delivery Continues to Rise

Modern consumers lead busy, on-the-go lifestyles, and one of their top needs is convenience. For restaurants, that means delivery. According to the recent NRA report, “Delivery orders are booming, and business models are shifting fast to find ways to serve that customer base.” Data firm Second Measure revealed that U.S. restaurant delivery sales grew 52 percent year-over-year in 2019. Over a third of adults in the U.S. and half of millennials are more likely to order food for delivery, compared to two years ago. 

Pizzeria restaurants need to recognize this demand and implement delivery in order to:

  • Remain Competitive: A recent Forbes article reports that nearly every U.S. zip code is now serviced by at least two delivery companies. If your pizzeria doesn’t offer delivery, it will likely be passed in favor of one that does.
  • Grow Profitability: When customers place their own orders online or through a mobile app for delivery, the ticket sizes tend to be higher than in-store sales. And if you use a third-party provider for delivery services, you can allocate more of your in-house labor for fulfilling the increased number of orders you’ll receive.
  • Improve the Customer Experience: Convenience is a top desire for today’s diners. The easier you can make it for them to get food from you, the more likely they’ll  order,  and order again.
  • Expand/Capture a Bigger Customer Base: Tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z customers live on their phones, so if you offer delivery options through a mobile app, you’ll be more likely to get their attention. Using a third-party provider can also help you reach a wider range of customers, because you’ll be tapping into their base; and they might cover a greater delivery area then you can. 

The growing demand for delivery has led to another trend: the expansion of “ghost kitchens” (also called virtual or cloud kitchens). These locations do not have any dine-in facilities, or even carry-out in most cases; instead, they are devoted exclusively to fulfilling and delivering online orders. Ghost kitchens are booming because they offer lower operational costs and upfront expenses: they don’t require the floor space, staff, etc. of dine-in restaurants, and need only online advertising. 

There’s an App for That 

Whether you have a ghost kitchen or not, mobile apps are necessary to remain competitive in today’s delivery-driven market. In one study, 42% of customers said that the ability to order online would make them choose one restaurant over another (and that number has likely grown since then). Mobile apps represent 60% of all digital orders, and The NPD Group forecasts that digital orders will keep growing by double digits through 2020. Mobile apps can especially connect you to millennials and Gen Z—groups who are most likely to order food for delivery, and whose buying power will continue to increase in the years ahead. According to NPD, Gen Z accounted for 24% of all foodservice traffic in the year ending in July 2019. You need to reach these digital natives through the channels they use most, especially including mobile apps.

Integrated Pizza POS Systems Have the Advantage

The point of sale (POS) system has evolved beyond a simple payment terminal to become the hub of a restaurant’s operations. An integrated pizza POS system will bring together sales from your brick-and-mortar locations and any of the virtual ordering channels. It will also provide a consistent experience for your customers, whichever way they choose to do business with you. Orders from all platforms are incorporated directly into the kitchen queue as they are received, ensuring timely fulfillment. Because the pizza POS is integrated with all ordering platforms, including third-party systems, your customer data is collected and owned by you (rather than the third-party provider). With this data, you can manage your loyalty program and create targeted marketing offers and promotions, further growing your business. 

Choosing the right pizza POS system also means choosing a provider who understands the unique needs of the pizza industry. With in-depth industry expertise, integrated solutions, and 24/7/365 support, HungerRush is the ideal partner for pizzeria tech solutions. You can also find out more about how our solutions can help you manage these 2020 restaurant trends by requesting a demo today.

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5 Tips for Training and Maintaining High-Performing Restaurant Employees

5 Tips for Training and Maintaining High-Performing Restaurant Employees

Keep these 5 “Rs” in mind to help reduce staff turnover

I was leaving a restaurant recently and noticed a reserved parking spot right in front with a sign that read “Reserved for Employee of the Month.” An employee parked her car in the spot and when she jumped out of the car and headed inside, I noticed she looked really excited to start the day. She had obviously been recognized and rewarded for a job well done.

The owner of that restaurant knows a thing or two about maintaining good employees!

Training and maintaining high-performing employees is as crucial to your restaurant as your food, location, atmosphere, and prices. Manage hard or hire smart. Getting it right can be one of the most difficult things you do.

Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Recruit Exceptional People

Start with a realistic job description. Ask for support from corporate headquarters, if applicable, ask your employees to contribute to the description, and use online resources such as WebstaurantStore to help craft job descriptions for all of your positions.

Before you post the job, you may want to first consider promoting from within—a great way to fill positions and recognize your high-performing employees. If they see growth opportunities, they’re more likely to stay with you long-term.

Another helpful and sometimes overlooked resource is simply to ask your current employees for referrals.

Here are a few restaurant-specific hiring sites where you can post jobs:

Others include: LinkedIN and Craigslist.

Tip #2: Refresh Your Training Plans and Materials

The National Restaurant Association cites “quality of training” as one of the seven attributes that people are looking for in a restaurant job.

You probably already have some type of training plan for new employees, even if it’s a very basic list of rules and tasks. But new employees will appreciate your investment of time and resources in refreshing or upgrading your curriculum. 

To get started creating or revising an employee training plan for your restaurant, make a checklist for everything employees need to know based on their role, including how to use the various components of your restaurant management system. Whether employees work in front-of-house, back-of-house, or back-office positions, be sure they are fully trained for the tasks they need to do on your POS system.

Shadowing experienced employees, assigning mentors, and role playing are all effective training methods. Consider purchasing video training modules for interactive, visual learning.

Tip #3: Reinforce Training

After employees have been on board for a few weeks, conduct brief review sessions and repeat the sessions periodically. Ask job-specific questions such as these:

  • Ask servers to tell you about their most challenging customer and how they handled it.
  • Ask line cooks how the order handoff process is going and if they have any ideas for improvement.
  • Ask your back-office staff to produce a few reports from your restaurant reporting software and explain the data to you.

Use review sessions as a learning experience for yourself too. The sessions could uncover some issues in your restaurant you weren’t aware of.

Tip #4: Respect Your Employees

Make sure you are respectful toward each and every employee, and that they are respectful to each other. Get to know them and create a personal connection so they don’t feel like just a worker.

Ask employees regularly for their suggestions for ways to improve your restaurant. You’ll probably find that they have some good ideas. They’ll feel a sense of ownership and respect when you implement one of their suggestions.

Say “Thank You” more often. This is one of the easiest things you can do to show employees respect, but we’re so busy we often forget how important it is. An employee who feels appreciated will give you their best.

Tip #5: Reward Your Employees

One of the best things you can do to maintain your star employees is to recognize their efforts and reward them with a small token of your appreciation.

Review comment cards from customers and scan social media comments to identify your top performers. Tap into the employee management component of your restaurant POS system to check their attendance and overtime hours. Sales competitions can also help identify stars. Recognize your employees in front of their co-workers.

The reward can be a preferred parking spot, a paid vacation day, a gift card, or a restaurant-branded item like a shirt or coffee mug. Ask your employees what would make them feel recognized; you may be surprised that it really doesn’t take much.

Once your team is fully on board, a robust restaurant management system makes employee labor management a breeze, with these tasks at your fingertips:

  • Manage employee profiles and assigned job roles
  • Monitor employee hours and overtime
  • View real-time employee labor cost information
  • Export payroll data for easy payroll system integration

All of us in the restaurant business know that our industry is infamous for its high turnover rates. But let’s not just accept that as inevitable. If you invest in recruiting good people, start them out with the proper training, continuously reinforce those skills, show them respect at all times, and recognize them for a job well done, you’re on your way to having and keeping a highly skilled, high-performing staff.

Learn more about how our restaurant management software can save you time managing employees and help grow your business.

See it in action, request a demo today!

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