The shape of the restaurant industry has changed since the advent of COVID-19, and it continues to do so as restaurants across the country begin the process of reopening to a both eager and wary dining public.
The most obvious and immediate COVID adjustment made by restaurants was a shift to an all delivery/takeout service model. If the diners can’t come to you, you’ve got to go to them. For some, this was familiar territory. For others, it was a strange new world. For all, it was a necessity if they were to have any hope of surviving the forced closures.
Even after reopening, dining room service alone may no longer be enough to keep doors open. If the restaurant industry is to survive post-COVID-19, it’s likely that delivery and takeout will continue to be an important piece of the puzzle.
With a new service model comes new challenges. How can a restaurant most effectively promote and market takeout service when the public may not traditionally equate such service with the establishment? Here are a few of the most effective methods at your disposal for successfully promoting your restaurant’s takeout service.
The digital jungle
There are a range of digital strategies to employ when it comes to promoting your restaurant in general and takeout service in particular.
First off, and perhaps most obviously, a well-designed website to promote your restaurant is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. A survey from MGH found that 77% of diners will visit a restaurant’s website before they dine in or order out. And out of that group, nearly 70% say they’ve actually been discouraged from visiting a restaurant because of its website.
Don’t forget to make your site mobile compatible. Studies show that over 80% of consumers have searched for a restaurant on their mobile device, and that number is only going to rise as time goes by.
Speaking of mobile, mobile restaurant apps are becoming more and more ubiquitous by the day. A recent study by Bluedot titled The State of What Feeds Us says that the majority of consumers (53%) are adding more mobile apps to limit their contact with on-site staff. More than half (51%) of those have downloaded at least one new app to purchase food and essentials, with 37% adding more than two.
And, of course, social media is another indispensable tool for marketing and promotion. 72% of customers have based their choice of restaurant on Facebook ratings and comments. And if you’re targeting a younger clientele, Millennial and Gen Z customers are 99% more likely to choose a restaurant based on social media and online reviews than older generations.
But you don’t have to be a master of the high-tech world in order to effectively promote your takeout service. In fact there are a wide variety of decidedly low-tech methods that can be remarkably impactful ways to get the word out.
Perhaps the best way to reach a hungry public is simply to find as many ways as possible to distribute your takeout menu.
Put it in the window
People walk by your restaurant every day, but unless they’ve been there before, they have no idea what to expect from the cuisine. Get that menu in your front window. Blow it up to poster size. Make sure your phone number, web, and social info are on it. It’s the easiest and cheapest way to bring in local foot traffic.
Get it in their hands
Always have takeout menus available at your reception desk, and make sure your employees know where they are. Place a basket of menus outside the front door for people to grab as they pass by. Put a menu in every bag, box, or to-go order that leaves the building. Post them on local bulletin boards. When you pay your bills, put one in the envelope.
Don’t be shy! Get it out there!
These are just a few of many possible ways of getting the word out about your takeout or delivery service. Some other possibilities might include placing ads and coupons in local directories, community newspapers, the programs of local arts productions, and more.
The only limit is your imagination.