COVID-19 has forced restaurants to rely on takeout and delivery sales to drive the majority of their sales. For some, off-premise already constituted a large percentage of their revenue, and they had the systems in place to pivot when dining rooms closed.
Many others, however, had to build their off-premise operations from scratch to combat sudden dine-in closures. Third-party delivery apps worked in a pinch to help restaurants quickly switch away from dine-in to takeout. As a long-term solution, though, delivery apps pose as many problems to restaurants as they do solutions. They charge commission fees and most restaurants already work on razor-thin margins, making the math that much harder for restaurants to make a profit.
“Most restaurants can’t make the math work with delivery apps alone,” said Hayley Russman, VP marketing at BentoBox. “They need to diversify and find more ways to drive commission-free sales.”
With months of experience under their belt, many restaurants have established their own takeout ordering system. Most modern POS services make it easy to set up an online ordering form that integrates with the rest of your operations.
But how do you let customers know to bypass the delivery apps and order direct?
Many consumers have no awareness about the high commission fees charged by delivery apps, so part of your messaging should focus around educating them about the many benefits of ordering direct. Then provide frequent reminders across all your marketing channels.
If you already have eyes on your menu, why not add a little disclaimer at the top explaining why they should order direct. The messaging can be informative (“Direct orders are the best way to support our business”) or incentivizing (“Lowest prices guaranteed when you order from our website or app”).
When customers visit your website, greet them with a large popup modal encouraging them to skip the delivery apps. Include a hyperlink that takes them right to your online order form to save them the time and hassle of navigating your website.
These work in conjunction with the other method to make online ordering as easy as possible for customers. Instead of having to navigate through your website, they can simply scan the QR code and be brought right to your online ordering form. QR codes can be added to any of the marketing methods listed, especially the takeout notes and stickers/labels.
Reminders on Social Media
Whether your restaurant has a large or small following on Facebook and Instagram, it’s still worth blasting out frequent reminders for customers to skip the apps and order from you. Even if a customer does not yet follow you, your social media pages will most likely be one of the first results to show if they Google you for information.
Limit Your Menu
Rather than offer your full menu on delivery apps, scale it back to your popular, high-margin items. This will help offset the commission fees. It will also encourage loyal customers to order direct so they can choose from your full menu.
Guarantee the Lowest Prices
Let customers know that they’ll find the lowest prices ordering through you. Even if you offer a slight discount, like 10 percent on orders above a certain threshold, you’ll still stay take home more of the profit than if the sale came through a third party.