By Rita Imerson
Over the last year, smart operators have modified their business model to be successful during the pandemic. Whether you operate in an area with many or few restrictions, takeout/order ahead and contactless experiences have likely been more popular than ever.
The challenge with this type of guest experience is the absence of human interaction, making it almost impossible to build guest relationships. Your team may not even interact with your guests at all, or if they do, it’s through a mask, a partition, or a pickup window.
Like many have done this year, we must be creative and think outside the box. It’s more important than ever to create and foster a more personalized experience with off-premise sales within the hospitality industry.
Consider introducing the following:
- Include personalized notes in takeout bags. If possible, use a branded notepad and train the takeout team to write a quick note for each order. Something like: “I hope you love the Crispy Brussel Sprouts! They’re my favorite!! Have a great night, Michelle.”
- Add photos of your team members without masks and smiling at the takeout pickup area with short bios.
- Consider management follow up on takeout orders. With most online ordering platforms, you have access to guest contact info. Train managers to take the time to personally reach out to 5-10 guests each day and ask about their takeout experience. A quick text or email: “Hi, this is Steve, the General Manager of Fireside Grill. Just making sure your takeout order last night was great! Please let me know if you have any feedback. We truly appreciate your support!!”
- Post photos and info (of course, nothing too personal) about your team on your social media channels.
- Consider technology that notifies the guest of which team member is preparing their order (see example below).
Although we are looking ahead and planning for post-Covid operations, it’s clear that off-premise sales will remain a large and essential part of the restaurant industry. Including these types of service steps in your training can improve gratuities, improve online reviews, and impact return visits. Any investment in personalizing this part of your business will surely be valuable long term.
Salt and Straw includes personalized, fun messages on their takeout bags.
Philz Coffee app notifies guests of who is preparing their order.