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Person typing on a laptop giving a one star review online

What They're Saying "IS" Word of Mouth Advertising

 

Over the last decade, like burning wild fire, word of mouth advertising has erupted into a fierce, influential, and potentially detrimental digital landscape called online reviews.

 

Platforms like Zomoto, Yelp, Dine, Trip Advisor, Facebook, and Google Reviews have given public opinion an open forum to share their restaurant dining experiences on a global scale. If, and how you manage these digital guest reviews can make a significant impact on your brand’s reputation and business success. So, not only is the guest’s review influencing whether or not potential guests will come and dine with you, but so is how you respond to the online review, and what your total star rating is.

 

How to effectively manage online guest reviews

Managing your online review profile can be your most influential marketing strategy, second only to social media. It requires a plan with daily dedication and management consistent with your restaurant guest service standards. I’ve termed this strategy “Digital Guest Relations,” and this is your opportunity to increase your conversation rate of digital guests (visitors) into actual guests. Customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews, so set that as your objective.

 

  1. Begin by identifying around the three most critical online review platforms, by reviewing where the most review activity is taking place by guests. Ensure the number you commit to is manageable on a daily basis, as ideally you are responding to each review within 24 hours to maintain an above average response rating.
  2. Where possible, claim your online review profile page and update your profile with photography, menus, hours of operation, contact information, descriptions of the service level, and any other key details that set your restaurant brand apart.
  3. Train a senior team member or members on how to use the platforms. Many of the platforms have phone apps, which are useful in responding to guests in a timely manner on the go.
  4. Develop a response strategy that your trained team members can use as a guide, with example situations and responses, to maintain consistent guest service standards.
  5. Train wait staff, bartenders and floor managers to encourage positive guest reviews in the restaurant during service. In a recent study, 68% of consumers indicated they will leave a review if asked (BrightLocal), and a half-star rating increase translates into a 19 per cent greater likelihood that a restaurant’s seats will be full during peak dining times (UC Berkeley). This guest touch point might also uncover dissatisfaction with a guest’s experience, providing another opportunity to turn a potential negative review into a positive experience.

You can go even one step further by incentivizing the guest with a complimentary dish or discount as thank you for their time and feedback. This can be really effective to retain your regulars and encourage repeat business.

 

Only 13% of consumers will consider using a business that has a 1 or 2 star rating

 

Good to know: Add a personalized touch to each response in addition to using the guest's name. Remember, potential guests are reading your responses too!


How to come back from negative online reviews

I recently supported a restaurant client who experienced the wild fire destruction that negative online feedback can cause. A guest had found a worm in their dish, snapped a picture of it, and posted it online with a detailed reenactment of the situation from their perspective.

 

Within two days the negative review had spread to 200 additional guest comments, with the majority of the comments supporting the guest, and a community now claiming to boycott the establishment.

 

The restaurant had experienced a loss of over $50,000 in just 48 hours, and was in panic mode, as the wild fire continued to burn. What was lost from the one-sided online review were the facts:

 

  1. This was the first and only time this had happened in the 10 years of being open.
  2. Management had apologized profusely and did not charge the table.
  3. The food and safety inspector was brought in immediately and found that their recent shipment of organic cabbage was the source of the problem, and it was quickly removed. Being organic, the cabbage is not sprayed with pesticides and therefore attracts insects.

The biggest concern was that although the restaurant was given a clear report to continue operations, no one was listening. So, we took immediate action, were honest and transparent both publicly and digitally:

 

  1. Developed a lengthy and thorough apology to the guest and the public incorporating the “facts” and posted in online.
  2. Posted images of the health and safety report to be as transparent as possible.
  3. Followed up with a highly successful guest appreciation weekend event for the entire community.

Within seconds, the wild fire went out, as guests appreciated the transparency of the response and learning all the facts. The online community began to advocate for the restaurant brand, recognizing that sometimes, just sometimes, mistakes do happen and the customer isn’t always right.

 

Moral: it is possible to come back from negative online reviews when brand authenticity is paired with transparency.

 

Good to know: First and foremost – be prepared to respond to ALL guest online reviews. Not just the good, and not just the bad.

 

Another effective approach is to take the conversation offline, by encouraging the guest to contact management directly to resolve the matter. Restaurant guests will continue to post their experiences in the digital space, which is becoming the first touchpoint potential guests have with your brand before they walk through your front door.

 

Written by Kate Engineer, a hospitality communications expert.  Blog post was originally posted on chefconnexion.ca.  Visit the site for more great tips and recipes.

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Make your Drive Thru Safe and Tasty

 

Sign promoting Drive Thru on a black background

Have you opened a drive-thru to supplement income from takeout and delivery? Here are some key considerations to make sure you have the safest, cleanest window selling environment, from Paul Medeiros, Managing Director, Consulting, Technical and Retail Audit Services at NSF International.

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING REMAINS KEY
Drive-thru employees may find the two-metre distance guide challenging, especially if drivers stop their vehicle too close to the window or if staff need to take the meal out directly to a parked car. Here are some ideas that may help keep physical distance working:

 

1. Ensure your bollards are properly positioned (and present) to help guide drivers away from the window. Attach a small flag (similar to the flags you see protruding from the side of bikes to keep cars away.


2. If your drive-thru window design doesn’t allow the installation of a plexiglass shield (like those in grocery retail), train employees to avoid leaning out the window or moving closer than necessary to the vehicle. A plexiglass is still the best bet, and all you need is around 12 inches at the bottom to slide through products.


3. Place signage at your drive-thru menu board, letting your customers know that you’re ‘keeping space’ and asking them to do the same.


4. Consider using takeout trays for all drinks as they reduce the risk of employees making direct contact with customers.

 

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE CONSUMER
Restrict payment to tap only, online payments or other ‘frictionless’ ordering methods. If cash is used, the employee needs to wash hands thoroughly after handling the cash and before touching other surfaces or items. The debit card machine keys also need to be wiped down between customers.

COMMON TOUCH POINTS FOR THE EMPLOYEE
Conduct a safely check and verify the drive-thru window automatic open/close mechanism is working. Manually opening and closing the window introduces a common touchpoint.

HANDWASHING 
Employees need to wash hands thoroughly after each customer order.

BAG HAND-OFF 
Even though your staff will wash their hands after each order, care must be taken to avoid hand contact. Bags are easier to handle in this case but takeout drinks and trays often result in hand-to-hand contact. Note: with all the extra handwashing, rotate employees often so that hands get a rest from washing.

GARBAGE HANDLING 
Most customers are very considerate, but some have taken to throwing out potentially dangerous items in drive-thru trash receptacles. The option of removing these (and posting accompanying signage) is an option, but could result in greater littering. The most common option is to make sure the employees who handle the garbage wear adequate PPE (gloves and apron) and that the garbage is double-bagged. Assume all garbage contains potentially harmful materials including used masks.

RETURNED ITEMS 
Do not handle a bag or package after it has been given to a customer. If a customer tells you an item is missing from the order, hand them another.

COHORT STAFF 
Hospitals and nursing homes taught us long ago the value of ‘cohorting’ staff and patients. Cohorting basically refers to the segregation of people into ‘groups’ or ‘pods’ or ‘bubbles’ or ‘shifts’. By cohorting people and avoiding contact between cohorts, you minimize the spread of infection. If someone in a cohort gets ill, then only that cohort is affected. The food industry has been applying this concept as one way to address COVID-19 risks. This should serve as a reminder to all foodservice companies with multiple sites to make sure they limit their employees to working one site only. If possible, maximize employee hours so they are not incentivized to work multiple part-time jobs, which introduces them to various ‘cohorts’ and could increase both their risk and yours.

 

And two other tips:

• DRIVE-THRU SHOULD SUPPLEMENT TAKEOUT. Not everybody has a car so recognize you may be missing out on sales if you do away with instore/curbside takeout.

• CASH MAY STILL BE KING AT TIMES. Not everybody has access
to noncash payment options, so be prepared to have to handle some cash or deny
some customers access to food.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

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Think like a Grocerant

 

Bags of produce in brown paper bags on a wood background

 

Since the mid-teens, traditional grocery stores in Canada have been blurring the lines between grocery and restaurant foodservice with so-called “grocerants.” These intersections of grocery and eatery have seen a number of food retailers, like Longos, Loblaws and Farm Boy (Sobeys) add in store restaurants and full meals for shoppers who want to do more than pick up their bread and bananas. For Millennials on the go, especially, these hybrids have offered the perfect combination of convenient food shopping and a hospitality experience.

 

Fast forward to 2020 and the changing world under COVID-19. More and more people need groceries – and prepared meals – at a time when grocers are reporting shortages of key products, and consumers are scrambling to satisfy home needs.

As more and more restaurant operators pivot to offer their customers takeout & delivery, why not pivot even more? Many restaurants have surplus supplies and continued access to food from their distributors. Savvy operators are already becoming food “purveyors,” and not just restaurants as they realize they are in the “food business,” and not only in the restaurant business.

Operators are turning from takeout & delivery and converting into restaurant-grocers offering meal kits, take-home/make-at-home meals, and more.

Set up your online grocery section

Earls Kitchen and Bar’s website now features an entire Grocery section as the chain adds a virtual grocery store to its regular takeout & delivery menu. Customers can buy grocery staples such as produce, dairy and toilet paper by the roll, as well as DIY meal kits and prepared meals.

Try food box subscriptions

Farm-to-table operations have been sending fresh boxes of goods to customers via subscription for years. Restaurants with access to local and seasonal ingredients can get into the game with their own branded food boxes. If you already send e-newsletters to your regulars, you can easily introduce this new service to supplement your takeout & delivery sales. The food box can contain meals as well as grocery staples...and even a roll of toilet paper.

Replicate the restaurant experience

Pre-packaged ingredients, meal kits, and menus can help turn your social distancing regulars into sometime gourmet cooks.

Upscale Toronto eatery Buca has created branded packaging of its favourites for customers who want to replicate the experience of eating a Buca meal, but in a take-home grocery format. Even traditional pizzerias can add groceries to their deliveries.

The pie is still the main event, but your customers will appreciate having access to other pantry staples too like milk, butter, tomatoes, cheese, and olive oil. And yes, you can even throw in a roll of toilet paper.

 

 

Tips:

1. Get the word out on your website and social media platforms that you have groceries, as well as prepared items, on offer.

2. Use the opportunity to brand your grocery packaging. This is a great way to build brand loyalty.

3. Choose your delivery platform carefully. Will you DIY or rely on a third-party service like Skip the Dishes, DoorDash, Foodora or Uber Eats? While you may save money doing it yourself, consider if you can increase your geographical reach using one of the biggies.

 

 

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

 

 

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Using Instagram to stay connected during COVID-19

A hand holding a hash tag sign on a yellow background

 

If you’re not on Instagram, you don’t exist. That’s the hard truth. The social media landscape has quickly become the dominant marketing tool for restaurants to connect globally and directly with existing and potential customers. No biggie, there are just around 1 billion of them.

The “gram” user, combined with Instagram algorithms, continues to challenge restaurants to push creative limits, in order to achieve Follows, LIKES and Comments.

What are some social media tactics your restaurant can employ to develop impactful social campaigns?

 

START WITH A MONTHLY PLAN

Take the time to plan out your key messages and posts for the upcoming month by developing a social media content calendar. Your goal should be to support and highlight initiatives within your restaurant operation that set your brand apart, while reinforcing key brand messages.

PUT YOUR BEST POST FORWARD
During COVID-19, Instagram can be a powerful tool to stay in touch with your loyal customers, to let them know what you're doing:

how you've changed your menu for takeout and delivery
strategies you've put in place to retain staff
gift cards and other loyalty promotions to keep customers engaged while your restaurant is closed to eat-in dining

 

TIMES TO POST
Social media reporting suggests that the social guest is most engaged in the early mornings, lunch and dinner hours, and later in the evening. These moments tend to be when we are taking a "break," which results in spikes in social media activity. Instagram for businesses also provides effective reporting on your social guests' most engaged days and times per day. Utilize this data to identify the optimal days and times of when to post.

#HASHTAG IT!
Hashtags can make or break the effectiveness of your content strategy by how relevant they are to the content you are posting. Digital users can follow hashtags to collect content on their feed that is of interest to them. The goal is to use hashtags that will place your content on the feeds of your target guests. Popular hashtags are identified in the "TAGS" search bar on Instagram by the number of times they have been used in a post.

Follow these five top tips to develop a list of hashtags relevant to your brand content:

  1. Research what competitors and the foodie community are using as popular hashtags.
  2. Identify 30-50 hashtags that align with your menu offerings and location, and are popular, and reference them selectively within your content calendar.
  3. Post hashtags that match the photography or video content you are sharing.
  4. Post the hashtags as a "comment" to your post, versus within the post.
  5. Post between 15 and 30 hashtags from your list per post.

As you monitor the effectiveness of your social campaign, be aware of spikes in your engagement when certain hashtags are used in your posted content, to identify your top-performing hashtags.
 

UTILIZE APPS

Developers are launching innovative useful social media content editing, organizing and
publishing apps on a monthly basis to support small businesses in managing digital campaigns. We recommend downloading a few different apps to test them out and understand which will be most effective in supporting your social media goals.

Using Instagram and Facebook to build a community of engaged brand advocates can seem intimidating, until you realize what makes them work. Implement these tactics to see what a powerful tool social media campaigns can be for your restaurant business.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 


By Kate Engineer
Kate Engineer’s agency, Fervid Communications, was recently acquired by The Fifteen Group Inc., a restaurant consulting company with offices in Toronto and Vancouver.

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Rae's Bistro weathers the COVID-19 storm...and so can you

Person carrying take out bags in hand.

 

Until March 2020, 4,800-sq. ft. fine dining restaurant Rae's Bistro, in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, was a popular spot offering fusion comfort food. Co-owned by Jillian Flynn and Danny Van Lancker, Rae's was noted for its 50-bottle wine list, 12 craft beers, scotch flights, and a premium atmosphere appealing to an adult clientele.

 

"We were known for our service and fresh feature chalkboard (rotated weekly), and guests would come in to hear our staff 'romance' the 10 features to them. It was almost a form of entertainment," says Danny.

 

Before March 17, Rae's Bistro did not offer any takeout or delivery

 

"We were just too busy to seek other revenue streams. We were on track to do $1.5 million in sales our second fiscal year. We were busy all the time (from 11 a.m. to midnight or later, if demand was there), with lineups, reservations, loud bar top, funky new age music, cool looking staff."

 

All that changed on Friday, the 13th - auspicious!

 

By Monday, March 16, sales had declined 60%. On the next day, Rae's Bistro closed to the public for dine in.

 

"On Monday, we reached out to the local health authority for advice and spent the day researching the science behind the pandemic and looking at the leading scientists' predictions/models. Pratt's (a great partner to have) obtained proper viral sanitation products for us.

 

"We jumped into action immediately. We laid off 22 staff by issuing emergency payroll and ROEs, and all staff applied for EI by Friday. Our first reaction was concern for the Rae’s family. It was completely devastating to think about taking away 22 people's source of income."

 

Ramp up for takeout

 

Rae's kept on a core staff – culinary, suppliers, the CFO – to adapt to the new reality. Within a matter of two days, working around the clock, the team approached their task with military precision. They created a takeout menu, bought Safeway thermal boxes to launch the service, designed banners for the windows, printed temporary menus, completely revamped the website to focus on the takeout menu, and branded takeout bags with personalized messages and menus.

 

All packaging is recycled brown paper, and even the takeout cutlery is wood, as the co-owners are committed to respecting the environment. (In fact, that is one of the reasons they had not considered offering takeout before.)

 

"By Friday, March 20th, we realized this might work, with two takeout specialists on staff, two drivers, and an additional kitchen employee we brought back. Much to our surprise, by Saturday, it was working and offering a flawless experience to all guests. Our delivery team is now our two veteran servers and bartender. We take responsibility for each order, text when on the way, and follow up with guests...treating them as a table and not a delivery. I personally close every box and write a thank you note to this day. I insist on a proper food chain of command. Safety officer/expo is my new position."

 

Create an effective menu

 

You need to accept that your regular menu likely will need adaptation. The Rae's team streamlined their menu to focus on high quality sandwiches, snacks, pizzas, pastas, steaks, ribs and fish.

 

"Stuff that travels well, and a lower price point for our entrées (not a discount, just not over-$30 items). People are going to be eating comfort, and more often now. We need to focus on our lower priced items without sacrificing our commitment to quality."

 

Rae's takeout/delivery challenges

 

Labour modelling, having to do it day by day as there is no past to use for forecasting.
Infrastructure, going from a single (phone) line to multiple lines with busy signal.
Communicating continued relevance to the public.
Delivery tracking, estimating and planning.
Installing mobile POS terminals for at-door payments.
Figuring out how to translate personalized service to guests in a different way.

 

Success!

 

By pivoting quickly and effectively, Rae's was able to turn around the operation from dine-in to takeout/delivery – and see significant sales increases.

 

From a modest beginning on March 18 to see if takeout and delivery would even work, Rae's is now up to nearly $7,000 in sales on the weekend and $1,000-$1,700 on weekdays. A scheduled postal drop of advertising may see even higher numbers.

 

 

Rae's top takeaways

 

  • Take care of your team first and foremost, do the right thing and lay them off so they can apply for EI.
  • Get proper sanitation measures in place. This is a serious thing, so don't do half measures. Get higher grade quat sanitizers.
  • Offer over-the-phone payment and curbside pickup.
  • Carefully consider your delivery model. Try to use existing staff for delivery rather than turning to a service that may charge a premium.
  • Get your social media game on. Do daily posts and reminders that you are open and relevant. Put some money into social media ads to farm page likes and get followers.
  • Use (old school) mail/email. Junk mail is now prime reading material, says Danny. Take advantage of this phenomenon, do flyers, post notices in your window.
  • Look at this crisis as an opportunity. "Remember that a bomb was just dropped on our industry. Independents are at a level playing field with mega chains. This is an opportunity to beat these entities to a new emerging market. Nothing will go back to normal. Don’t wait this out. Act now."
  • Be your best self. "Just get out there and be the best damn takeout and delivery business you can be."

Focus on the personal touches

  • Keep your brand front of mind. "Within a week we created the most amazing branding on our bags; every box, bag and container is sealed with Rae’s Bistro branded labelling. They also have spots for the guest's name. I got the idea when I opened a DVD this week and it had the frustrating plastic circle sticker on it. I couldn’t get it open, had to get up and find a knife. The feeling of 'this is brand new' as I sliced it was satisfying and I knew I had to bring this feeling to our guests.
  • Raise customers' spirits. "All bags get a takeout menu with a personalized message of good will." Treat your guests as a table and not a delivery. They will appreciate the service.
  • Talk up your menu, even though it's takeout. "We still romance our features over the phone to our guests."
  • Ramp up your social media. "We now have full-time social media and email monitoring. A daily feature wall is now posted daily with fresh content for the guests eating multiple times a week." But "old school" window signage is also attracting new takeout/delivery business. People have the time to stop and look.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

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Ontario Pork Supports Local Restaurants


Ontario pork producers know that supporting local restaurants through these uncertain times is the right thing to do. Whether that support is through ordering delivery/take-out or buying gift cards online, we should all come together to ensure local restaurants have a steady income into the future.

 

This is why they are offering free social media advertising — paid for by the producers — to eligible local restaurants that serve Ontario pork in the province. This Facebook and Instagram ad will target over 5,000 or more customers in their area, and promote that their restaurant has delivery or take-out options.

 

Ontario Pork is offering to support local restaurants. Contact jeremy.yim@ontariopork.on.ca

 

They are talking about an actual paid and targeted ad, not just a normal social media post.

 

Professional digital marketing is an area that many restaurants can’t normally tap into (even in normal circumstances), so they are offering our team to support.

 

All they need from restaurants is a high-quality photo of a pork menu item, and they would do the rest— so you can focus on running the business.

 

Please contact Jeremy Yim, Retail and Food Marketing Specialist at Ontario Pork for more information and to sign-up to the free branding program.

 

Together we support local.

jeremy.yim@ontariopork.on.ca
1-519-766-7893

 

 

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Sample Menu template from Must Have Menus

How to Design a Takeout Menu with MustHaveMenus

 

With takeout as the only option for hundreds of thousands of restaurants during this health crisis, it’s important to have a to-go menu that’s optimized for your food and your restaurant. MustHaveMenus, an online design tool for restaurants, makes building one quick and easy.

 

They have hundreds of professionally-designed takeout menu templates — for both trifold and half-page — that restaurants can customize in moments with their intuitive v3 editing software. If you run into any questions, you can simply hop into a chat window with one of their friendly and experienced customer service reps. They’ll help guide you through the process from start to finish, and give you best practices for takeout menus and more. 

 

To help combat the crisis facing restaurants, MustHaveMenus also put out a Coronavirus Response Kit with all their latest templates for takeout and delivery. It also includes helpful guides for pivoting overnight to a takeout business model, plus creative ideas and ready-made marketing materials to get the word out.

 

Sample take out Menus from Must Have Menus

 

MustHaveMenus’ Free Plan comes with unlimited access to their library of templates and design features, plus professional printing and social media marketing. Right now, they are offering their Pro Plan for just $12.95 a month (If you're a member of Brand Points Plus, there is a special offer for you!  If you're not a member, talk to your sales representative about how to join). That includes access to high-res downloads, removal of watermarks, organizing folders and more.

 

We recommend you use the software to design their menu, get a PDF file and send it to your local printer or Staples location to have it printed.  This will save on shipping and duty from the United States.

 

Visit MustHaveMenus

 

 

 

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Brand Points Plus logo with hand reaching for a take out order

Making Food Delivery Easy

Turning to Takeout

 

by Jane Auster

This post was written by Jane and the Brand Points Plus team.  If you're not a member, this is an amazing, no-cost loyalty program.  To learn more click here.

 

Flexible restaurant operators are converting from eat-in to takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic. And whether they're fine dining, QSR or casual eating establishments, they're finding it's not as hard as you may think to revamp an eat-in operation. Also, according to infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch, the risk of contracting the virus from takeout and delivery is "so extraordinarily small" – good news for consumers and restaurant operators alike.

 

Here are the top takeaways to ensure your takeout is a success:

 

Make ordering and payment a snap. Many diners, especially Millennials, are already conversant with online and app ordering. Make sure your web and app menu allows for easy ordering and that you're capable of receiving text message orders and app orders from mobile devices. Then add a pre-payment option to make the whole process seamless. Companies like cloud-based commerce platform Lightspeed POS Inc. have set up special resources during the crisis to help restaurants who are converting operations to takeout and delivery.

 

Change up your restaurant layout. Without the need to provide tables and chairs for traditional eat-in dining, you can easily convert that space into takeout/delivery work stations. Think assembly line in the way you organize your takeout operation.

 

Revisit your staffing. There's no doubt you will not need the same number of employees as a full-service restaurant requires. But you will want to retain as many as possible to keep you up and running professionally and prepare for a return to more normal operations. Now is the time to redeploy your talent. You'll still need cooks (short order especially), cleaners, order takers and payment processors, delivery staff, and quality control personnel. You may also need a person assigned specifically to answer customer questions about your menu, takeout and delivery options, payment, and so on.

 

Carefully consider your menu. Not everything on your regular menu will be suitable for takeout and delivery. A takeout menu is more a snapshot of your full offerings. Confine your takeout to top sellers (as long they're not too elaborate or time-consuming to prepare), dishes that will transport well in takeout and delivery, and entries that will still give you a good return on investment.

 

Use the right packaging for the job. No one likes to pick up or receive soggy, leaking, messy or unattractive food packages. Companies like W. Ralston, Novolex and Polar Pak feature packaging specifically for foodservice operations that include takeout and delivery, and also packaging that's size-appropriate. “The packaging a French fry requires for travel is different than a pasta dish. And packaging will also depend on the miles or time it needs to travel,” says John Veder, director of innovation - paper for Novolex North America. Also consider packaging that can be easily reheated without having to be transferred to other dishes.

 

“With takeout, the customer is in control of when that food is consumed,” says Veder. “For delivery, the customer is at home, waiting. Their expectation is that the food is ready to eat. Not soggy. Not cold.”

 

For more info:

View Flanagan's Take Out Essentials catalogue.

 

Image of Flanagan Take Out Essentials Guide

 

Make delivery easy. "Delivery was a growing market segment prior to COVID-19," says foodservice principal Jeff Dover of fsStrategy Inc. "Restaurants have been adjusting delivery menus to include products that hold well and working on takeout containers that hold the food well. Increasingly, they are looking for tamper proof containers. If a restaurant hasn't worked through this yet, they may want to think about it before going full delivery. If they don't normally do takeout or delivery, they will need to get the packaging."  

 

If you're new to delivery, you may want to partner with an established foodservice delivery company like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Foodora, or Skip the Dishes. Uber Eats has announced that the company is waiving its normal delivery fees for customers who order from independent restaurants and allowing restaurants to receive payment daily instead of on a regular billing cycle in order to help their cash flow. Door Dash has said it will be not be collecting service fees for the first 30 days for a new restaurant client. Restaurants who partner with delivery services also benefit from the online exposure on food delivery sites.

 

Do it yourself? Some restaurants are choosing to do their own delivery by training their regular waitstaff to become delivery door-dashers. In the short term this is a great way to continue employing front-of-house staff. But don't forget to check your insurance to make sure your staff are covered for "other" employment within your operation.

 

Plus, ask yourself these questions:

 

What kind of vehicle will you need? Motorized, bike delivery, or via public transit?
What's your radius? How far are you willing to travel for your customers? During this difficult period, literally going the extra mile will make a huge difference and help retain loyalty.


How's your branding? What kind of branding will you use to stand out? The big food delivery companies are able to advertise themselves through their distinctive, logo-ed carry-on packaging. Like the big guys, your new visual identity as takeout and delivery food providers matters. Consider branding your takeout packaging with your company logo and tagline or marketing messages. Market and promote the service on your website as well.

 

Ramp up your social media. Never has your social media been more important. It's your direct conduit to customers, a way to let them know that you are still in business and you value their patronage and support. If you're adding takeout and delivery, you need to spread the word. Social media such as Instagram, Facebook and other community pages can let people know you are open and active. Don't be afraid of doing something different and a little crazy on your Instagram. Get personal, do a virtual meal in your restaurant and film it, sing an aria outside your restaurant and post to your Instagram.

 

You may also want to create an old-fashioned paper flyer with your takeout menu and have a staff member deliver it to your local area. Sometimes old school is the best school. The point is to communicate as often as you can with customers to keep them close. And don't forget to thank them. They want to help.

 

Get creative. Some clever restaurants are throwing in extras with customers' takeout and delivery orders. Have any logo-ed t-shirts on hand? Send one with each order. Do you make any branded food items for sale, such as jams? Add one to each order. A restaurant in Toronto is even offering to throw in a roll of toilet paper to food orders made through Uber Eats.

 

 

 

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Due to recent events, delivery and pick-up orders are increasing rapidly. In challenging time such as this, how can you make sure your restaurant is top of mind for customers? Here are some ways you can stand out amongst your competition and encourage customers to continue to order from your restaurant.

 

Old Fashioned Drive-In Restaurants

Who can forget the experience of an old fashioned drive-in restaurant? When customers would drive up to a restaurant and eat in their cars. Since customers visiting your restaurant can not come in and sit, why not deliver food to them instead? However, make sure your servers are taking proper precautions to wash their hands, sanitize after each meal delivery and keep social-distancing.

 

Create A Loyalty Program

Everyone loves to earn points and win free stuff! Most of us have changed our shopping, eating, and travelling patterns to earn points for our purchases. Therefore, having a loyalty program is a no brainer! The eventual winning of a prize has a lot of influence on people's spending and drives repeat sales! We recommend a digital loyalty program, especially these days, since customers won't be able to present a card physically.

 

Get Personal With Personalized Messages

Something playful that restaurants can add to take-out orders is the option to include a personalized message; offer this option during the time of ordering. The customer can decide what message they wish to send out if they are ordering for family or friends, or they can request funny jokes or pictures. It is an easy and low-cost way of adding some fun into food delivery. Also, you can encourage customers to share their personalized messages on social media with a specific hashtag. This is a great way to promote the restaurant as well as showcase food orders.

 

Take Advantage of Social Media 

Social media is an excellent tool to build your business profile and attract new customers. With social media, you can create videos, promote new specials, highlight limited time offers, feature your employees, offer cooking lessons, interviews with the chef, and give a "behind the scenes" look to your customers. People are craving social interaction more than ever before and making your restaurant approachable is the golden ticket. 

 

Bring The Restaurant To Their Home.

Is your restaurant known for a particular theme or ambiance? Unfortunately, because restaurants patrons can not sit down inside, why not bring the restaurant to them? For example, why not try including a wine list pairing with the food they ordered, a tea light candle, labelled napkins or with each order include paper placemats and crayons for children. If your business includes toys for children at the end of the meal add the toys in as well or the breath mints they could have picked up upon exiting the facility. It is simple things like this that provide an extraordinary experience beyond just receiving a take out meal. Also, don’t forget to add in promotional materials to spark their interest in ordering again. Furthermore, you can create a contest and encourage customers to share their experience on social media and offer a reward such as a discount on their next order.

 

Special Limited Time Offers.

Offering a special limited-time offer is a great way to not only attract new customers but to retain them. This is a wonderful way to tempt people to try out your restaurant. Some examples of limited-time offers can be free meals for kids, 50% off desserts and special fixe prix menus on certain days. Also, you can leverage certain social media days such as, "National Peanut Butter And Jelly Day," this will create traffic to your social media. Here is a complete list of Annual Food Holidays for Restaurants.

 

Ordering take-out is one of the simple pleasures that is still available. Make your restaurant stand out amongst the competition by offering a loyalty program, personalized messages, unique experience, and limited-time offers. Become present on social media and increase traffic to your restaurant during this challenging time. Customers will remember you for it.

 

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Technology has made a huge impact on the behaviour of your customers and how they choose to enjoy their meals. 50% of Canadians now use their smartphone to order food and drinks. Having a presence on third-party delivery apps like Skip the Dishes or UberEats it’s not only convenient to your existing customers, it’s advertisement to potential customers who are debating where they should eat.

 

The apps themselves make it easy for you, too. Long gone are the days of complicated software platforms that are more hassle to use than they are worth. These apps have easy-to-use interfaces and make the process smooth and simple to receive your orders, coordinate delivery times, and accept payment.

 

Menu

Is your menu on ordering apps and your website up to date?

 

The biggest let down for a consumer is to discover that the food they want to order isn’t actually available. SkipTheDishes and UberEats make it as easy as possible to update menu items within seconds and as often as necessary.

 

It’s important to note that though your menu should be up to date on third party sites, your entire menu doesn’t have to be included. Choose a few easy and portable menu items—like sandwiches, soups or salads— and feature those as delivery options. You’ll still benefit from the brand exposure on the platform and the additional revenue stream while protecting the integrity of menu items that don’t travel well.

 

Delivery Charges

These are determined by you. Yes, you do want to make sure that you are covering your costs, but you also need to think strategically. If someone can order something similar from multiple restaurants, their decision will likely come down to cost and delivery time.

 

Remember, today’s consumers don’t have the same level of loyalty as previous generations and will easily switch to somewhere new if it means a more convenient experience.

 

Delivery Time

Skip the Dishes and UberEats allow you to set your own prep time and easily control the pace of your kitchen. You can adjust prep times whenever you need, such as at peak times or on days when you are down staff. UberEats will also adjust it automatically based on order volumes, time of day, and order size.

 

Ensure you stick to the determined delivery times as closely as possible. You don’t want a customer to be waiting longer than expected for their food to arrive, nor do you want their food to arrive cold because it was prepared too early.

 

Packaging

Don’t underestimate the art of good packaging! No one wants to have their order delivered only to find that something has leaked out of its container or that food has gone cold and soggy. Proper packaging is key to ensuring that your establishment’s eating experience transfers to the home. This is a reflection of your brand and your commitment to your diner’s entire experience.

 

Maintain A Strong Digital Presence

Don’t forget—your online presence goes far beyond the ordering apps themselves. Consumers are looking to a whole host of digital mediums when deciding where to order their food, whether they’re eating on or off-site. Making food decisions is usually an “in-the-moment” choice with over half of all dinner decisions being made day-of. Having a strong online presence is imperative to being selected when consumers are doing their last minute (and hungry) searching.

 

Here are some things to consider to ensure a seamless digital experience for your customers:

 

A Responsive Website

A responsive website will adjust in size to display nicely on a mobile phone without users needing to zoom in and out. Include your menu, contact information, and hours of operation. We love Squarespace and have a great post that breaks down (link to https://www.flanagan.ca/blog/8-Steps-to-Creating-Your-Restaurant-Website-on-a-Budget.htm) step-by-step how to get started!

 

Social Media

Social media continues to have a huge influence on food choices. Having an engaging social presence is vital to staying competitive and promoting your brand.

 

Highlight Your Hard-To-Replicate Dishes To Increase Delivery Orders

Consumers may feel that these items are more difficult to re-create at home.

 

A Google Business Page

When someone Googles your restaurant name, this is what appears on the right side of the desktop search results. This is free advertising in a high traffic place! 88% of all desktop internet searches are conducted through Google.

 

Use these tips to increase your digital brand awareness, create another revenue stream, and improve your customers’ online ordering experience.

 

To get started with Skip The Dishes click here and fill out their form and someone will get back to you.

 

To get started with Uber Eats click here 

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September 28, 2020
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