Food takeaway service and the 3 rules

By October 1, 2019 No Comments
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Learn the 3 rules to setup food takeaway service to help you decide the best takeaway experience for your customers.

Re-imaging your menu for food takeaway gives you a chance to serve those short on time or the ones that need a bit of convincing.  

There are a few key things to keep in mind when getting started.

Setting up a food takeaway service is simple if you follow three rules:

  1. Work out what your staff and customers want.
  2. Build a menu to maximise profit without straining your staff.
  3. Create a product true to your restaurant.

Re-imagining food takeaway service has benefits for restaurants as an opportunity. Firstly, increase service without increasing dining space, and secondly, increase profits of the emerging time-poor, city-dwelling diner demographic.  Further takeaway also offers a way to trial new dishes before the evening service. Moreover can convert staunch takeaway diners into sit-down regulars.

What do people want?

Someone sitting at your cafe or restaurant will have different needs to a person rushing in to pick up takeaway, and catering to both behaviours requires some planning.

People are ordering takeaway because they need it quickly and easily. This means they need an easy way to order food.  As a result, this could mean having a designated area on your premises for orders if you have space and have staff available to take and deliver orders.

The issue of space can be tackled a couple of different ways.  Firstly, the street frontage is a bonus if it’s available, as you can both advertise your takeaway option while managing foot traffic outside your doors.  Secondly, if that’s not possible, another option is to partition the inside of your venue to separate the queue from the sit-down diners. Thus saving them from too much interruption of their meals and possibly reducing their dining experience.  It’s not worth introducing takeaway food if it’s going to detract from the in-house dining experience.

Third-party providers

However, if taking orders and setting up a special area in your restaurant feels like a step too far, another option is to set up an online ordering system on your website. This can be done through a third-party provider depending on whether you want to offer takeaway or pickup.  On the other hand, if you use a delivery company it pays to factor in the delivery companies’ commission and service fees. These, of course, will eat into your potential profit.

Flexibility is a key factor of success in the early days of setting up a takeaway.  Observe how staff and customers engage.  What works and what doesn’t for them and examine why. If something isn’t working with the ordering process or in the kitchen, examine how people want the process to happen and change until it’s right.

It’s worthwhile taking your time to improve your ordering process because making ordering easy means building profits and getting customers to return.

Building up from sit-down

Designing a takeaway menu is no different to any other menu there’s endless potential, limited only by the practicalities of running a kitchen.

The easiest option is to make your entire sit-down menu into takeaway dishes.  This makes it easy for the kitchen. It also gives customers a good idea of what your restaurant offers.  Depending on your portion sizes, you can scale down takeaway meals and remove side options like salads and garnishes.

It’s also possible to adapt your existing menu for takeaway diners, but this requires understanding how people eat.  The emphasis should be on creating food that can be eaten by hand or without cutting because most diners won’t re-plate their meals from its packaging.

For single dashing diners, takeaway options could include unique sandwiches and rolls.   For set-and-forget taste complexity, stewed pork belly or slow-cooked lamb that’s gathered flavour over hours.

Group diners will respond to shared meal options, like dumplings, rice dishes, meat cuts or dips.  Some restaurants and cafes take advantage of their location near benches or gardens and offer a picnic basket to go. For example roasted chicken, with potatoes and veggies.

Working out what to include in your takeaway menu needs to factor in how well the food will travel.  For example, melted cheese will congeal into salty plastic by the time someone gets home.  Noodle soups don’t enjoy their long hot bath back to the office, bloating and disintegrating in the broth (though some noodle shops take care to serve the broth and noodles in separate containers).  Find the right balance to ensure the food represents your restaurant’s standards and your customer’s expectations.  

Takeaway does offer you the chance for experimentation though.  You can try new dishes to judge diner reaction, with less upheaval to your regular menu.  It can also give you the space to use cheaper seasonal produce.

Staying true to your restaurant

Ultimately, the best plan for any restaurant is to stay true to what the restauranteur is trying to achieve.    When you’re consistently true to your restaurant’s goals, you’ll end up building consistent customers who want to return.

This overarching goal will help you decide the best takeaway experience for customers, and help you make sure your food matches your sit-down menu in quality.

Want more ideas? Why not download a copy of:

How to Cook for Cash – Ideas eGuide

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