Your restaurant telephone can be a big source of lost business and lost revenue. Prior to COVID-19 I would travel almost every week. I would leave home on Mondays and fly home on either Thursday or Friday evening. Being too beat after a long week of travel to pick up my family and go to a dine in restaurant I opted for takeout. While on my 40-minute drive from the airport to home I would telephone one of my favorite restaurants to place a takeout order so that I could swing by and pick up the meals on my way.
For many restaurants, the phone is a sales prevention tool. During the five – 12 minutes it takes for me to place my phone order, other customers are getting a busy signal. Restaurants have no idea of how many customers receive busy signals, give up, and call a competitor.
Easy right? Actually, no. When I call a restaurant the first thing that occurs is I am told my call needs to be transferred. (Why? One would think that when one calls the restaurant one wants to place an order the restaurant could take the order. It is not that simple.) During the call transfer, one of two things happen – the call goes through or it is dropped. If the call is dropped I call back once. If it is dropped a second time I move on to another restaurant.
When the person the call is transferred to answers, about 50% of the time I am put on hold. If the hold time is longer than eight minutes I hang up and try another restaurant.
Relying on telephone takeout orders is a sales prevention tool. During the five to 12 minutes it takes for me to phone order, other customers are getting a busy signal. Restaurants have no idea of how many customers receive busy signals, give up, and call a competitor.
Online takeout ordering is the best thing any restaurant can do to reduce their risk for revenue loss. Now, with the COVID-19 virus, takeout is the only thing restaurants can do. Restaurants that aggressively pursue online takeout ordering are the ones who are likely to survive and thrive during this time. What’s more, once the virus threat is diminished, chances are your patrons are likely to continue to order takeout meals.
Online takeout ordering affords restaurants an opportunity to make more margin per meal. Plus, takeout meals can become a high volume, production business without your dine in table being your economic constraint. Prior to COVID-19 takeout meals were an adjunct to the restaurants main business – dine in.
Online ordering offers the opportunity to upsell without the dine in constraint of patrons occupying the table longer and delaying turnover. With online takeout ordering it is important that you select an ordering system that allows you to upsell. Make it easy to select appetizers, entrees, deserts, and alcoholic beverages (as permitted by local ordinances) leave tips, or donate to your restaurant.