How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Off-Premise Dining

If you keep up with restaurant news, you know off-premise dining is one of the hottest industry topics to date. Dining room traffic continues to taper off across the nation as off-premise dining becomes increasingly popular. According to Restaurant Business’ Consumer Trends: The Consumer Carryout Craze, only 14 percent of consumers do not order to-go food at least once a month. In fact, the same study found that more consumers purchased takeout 10 or more times per month compared to three years ago. Many restaurants are trying out off-premise dining and finding success, especially several chain restaurants including Brinkers and the Bloomin’ Brands.

Although some have found success, it takes a lot of planning in order for it to be fruitful. If you’re thinking about offering take-out and delivery, there are factors to contemplate. We’ll walk you through aspects you should consider, including restaurant layout challenges, educating staff, selecting restaurant technology, choosing your delivery menu and more.

Start with Easy and Quick to Prepare Items

When you get started with off-premise dining, I would recommend having a more focused menu. You’ll want to include items that you know will be quick to prepare and keep its taste if it isn’t eaten right away.

You’ll also want to think about the type of packaging you’ll use. Consider the food temperatures of the items you will be offering. You wouldn’t want to mix hot and cold foods in the same container so you may need different types of packaging.

Choose Easy to Integrate and Simple Technology

Before implementing off-premise dining into your restaurant, it is imperative to have technology in place that blends the dual streams of guest traffic. Essentially, you need a KDS that utilizes order throttling and capacity management. These features will take into consideration orders from all channels (in-house and online/delivery) and provide accurate quote times to your guest.  Quotes are given based on real-time activity in your restaurant. If there is an unexpected rush, these features will take that into account and adjust the quote time accordingly. That way, you can balance each guest experience without negatively affecting the other.

If you already have a KDS, see if you can upgrade your current platform to support off-premise dining instead of purchasing a new platform. That way, staff doesn’t have to learn new technology.

Also, you’ll want a KDS that can integrate with a variety of POS systems. This helps protect your investment because you’ll have the flexibility to switch your POS if needed. Choosing a more robust KDS will make up for a less feature-rich POS. A robust KDS will likely be customizable and can grow with your operations as you add a new revenue stream.

Customer Feedback

When implementing anything new in your restaurant, there will always be kinks to work out. Customer feedback is invaluable and a great way to improve the guest experience. After implementing off-premise dining, consider sending out a survey to your customers to see how you’re doing.

What are you doing right?

Where can there be improvement?

These questions can help your off-premise dining business continue to evolve.

Using Digital Ordering Partner

According to a Hospitality Technology study, “twenty-four percent of restaurateurs currently use an online ordering and delivery platform such as Grubhub or Seamless, and another 31 percent say they are planning to or are considering adopting such services.”

Digital ordering partners allow your restaurant to focus on preparing great quality food without worrying about the delivery portion. These providers will charge a commission per each ticket; however, they do provide a network of diners who otherwise may not consider ordering from a restaurant. For example, GrubHub’s company statistics stated that they serve 9.81 million active diners, helping you get found by a large audience.

Is Off-Premise Dining for Your Restaurant?

Is this a trend you should implement into your business? If your restaurant isn’t utilizing off-premise dining yet, take some time to think about the key factors that make it feasible. Do your research to ensure you have the resources available to make this a successful endeavor.