It is on the top of everyone’s mind and unavoidable online – the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic. As of Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, nineteen states and several metropolitan areas have shutdown restaurants and bars but allow takeout and delivery. Among them include California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington states. Several states have incited curfews for restaurants and bars, including Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, and Maine. A regularly updated article on Eater.com lists the extent of these shutdowns and curfews.
Unfortunately, as the world continues to fight the novel coronavirus, more and/or lengthier shutdowns are likely to come. This is why having an online ordering system for takeout and delivery is more important now than ever. In fact, establishments that already provide such services have seamlessly transitioned and continue to operate. Many establishments are also providing delivery with a ‘leave at the door’ option, which is a fantastic option for those unable to leave their homes.
You are likely aware of the online ordering efforts of many ‘big-box’ establishments, such as McDonalds, Domino’s Pizza, Starbucks, and Red Robin. Unknowingly, they had an advantage, being frontrunners in online ordering and curbside delivery. Don’t see this as a disadvantage of your establishment. This gives you an opportunity to learn from their examples: offer your regular menu items, offer specials, keep your brand that customers already know, offer ‘first-time’ order specials, and mirror regular ‘in-house’ specials.
There are many fine developers of restaurant and bar online ordering platforms to consider. One of those is MenuDrive. Lavu is offering its US restaurant customers free access to MenuDrive software in an effort to help customers keep bringing in revenue. For more information on MenuDrive, start with their FAQ page at: https://www.menudrive.com/faq. If you’re a Lavu US customer needing online ordering, fill out the form here.
Whether considering MenuDrive or another developer, be sure to think about the following for your online ordering platform:
- Ability to add your logo and established brand.
- User-friendly options for you or trusted staff to update menu items and prices.
- Basic platform with additional modules for added functionality
- Mobile-friendly and full website functionality.
- Customer analytics.
- Pop-ups for last-minute add-ons to orders.
- Automated marketing tools such as posting messages to your social media pages, email blasts, specials or coupons.
If your establishment is new to online ordering, you have plenty of advantages up your sleeve: your current customer base already loves your food; regulars will be craving your items, and people want to support local businesses. The sooner you offer online ordering, the sooner you can continue business during these ongoing mandatory curfews or shutdowns. Yes, this is perhaps a bit overwhelming with everything going on; however, keep these ideas in mind:
- Cities are working with small and medium businesses during this time, consider partnering with other businesses to obtain “10-minute” parking until curfews or shutdowns are lifted.
- Many establishments report over a 25% increase to their bottom line when adding online ordering. When shutdowns and curfews end, you’ll have an extra stream of revenue to help with revenue recovery.
- Keep your valued staff employed during this crisis, they’ll not only be grateful, they will market your establishment to their friends, family, and the public (through their social media accounts).
- Software vendors are actually easy to work with… actually, they are working for you because when you succeed, they succeed.
With the coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurateurs will need to step up their game for the foreseeable future. To keep updated with the latest in foodservice, resources, and this pandemic; be sure to visit Restaurant.org’s Coronavirus page, which is regularly updated.
Instituting online ordering is a profitable venture in general, but with our current times, it will be critical for the interim success of your business. We hope this article has been helpful and provided information to help you make a decision to step into the world of online ordering.
Have you come up with a creative way of keeping your business going during this pandemic? Contact us, we’d love to hear from you!