The New York Times has a theory on the popularity of curbside pickup: people miss going to restaurants and stores. Picking up curbside gives them a reason to get out, even if they never leave their cars. Beyond an excuse to leave the house, it’s also convenient, no-touch, and safe. Restaurants across the country are adding and expanding their curbside services out of necessity, and consumers have started using them more, also out of necessity.
It’s a practice that’s here to stay, too: a survey of over 1,000 consumers found that 87 percent want restaurants to continue offering curbside pickup and other processes that limit the need for in-person visits.
It’s why we’ve seen a rise in restaurants looking to make the curbside experience more efficient, enjoyable, and unique. You can do this in several ways, but one straightforward and affordable way is to facilitate the entire process through text messaging.
Why Should You Use Text Messaging to Manage Curbside Pickup?
The reason behind the combination of SMS and curbside pickup is simple: customers love texting. Americans spend, on average, three hours a day on their phones.
Our 2020 SMS Marketing Report found that checking, sending, and answering text messages is the number way people spend this time. No wonder 90 percent of texts are read within the first three seconds of receipt.
People ignore calls from unknown numbers. Emails can get caught in SPAM filters or get lost in the jungle that is a typical email inbox. Texting cuts through all the noise, is universal, and doesn’t require anyone to download yet another app.
It’s also an affordable and easy-to-implement solution for restaurants trying to maintain their profit margins. The easier you make something for your customers to do, the more likely they will do it.
How Curbside Pickup Using SMS Works
There are many different ways we’ve seen restaurants implement curbside pickup using SMS.
Our customer, the Barn Bowl and Bistro, use the online ordering platform Toast Takeout. After someone places an order, they receive an email confirmation and receipt. In that email, they receive pick-up instructions, including their SimpleTexting toll-free phone number to send a text message to once they arrive. The team receives a message to their inbox, brings out the food to the customer’s vehicle, then places it inside. There is no physical contact with customers whatsoever. It’s a formula that’s earned them reviews from customers like this.
Another restaurant Bagby Beer Company follows a similar process. They stress on their instructions that a “real person is standing by, happy to make sure you have what you need.” This is another significant benefit of using SMS. You can encourage customers to ask you questions and build a relationship with them.
By allowing your customers to text you during this process, you give them any easy way to ask questions about your pickup process like:
How the pickup process works
Safety precautions at your restaurant
When the order is ready
Delays or changes to the order
You don’t have to wait for your customers to ask questions––you can also preempt them by sharing:
Pickup time estimates
Pickup reminders (if someone has not arrived)
Pickup ready notifications and details
By communicating all of the above clearly, you ensure that customers feel confident in the process. It also makes it more efficient for your team. They aren’t standing outside, waiting for a customer to arrive as their food grows cold.
The Secret to a Seamless Pickup Process
There’s been an explosion in curbside pickup software. Often, the simplest solution is the best. As you can see, texting customers during the pickup process is a straightforward way to make your curbside operation fast, efficient, and customer friendly.