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Using Online Ordering to Adapt Your Restaurant to COVID-19 Restrictions

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Topics: Restaurants

April 1, 2020

Across the country, restaurants are closing their dining rooms, furloughing employees, and scrambling to adapt their business to COVID-19 restrictions. For many, that means relying on taking phone orders or utilizing third-party delivery services. But with profit-margins already razor thin and no end in sight for when business will return to normal, relying solely on third-party services and their commission fees of 25% or more is too costly. The smarter solution is having customers order directly from you with integrated online ordering. By incorporating the right technology and keeping everything in-house, you’ll not only be able to get through the tough times now, but also be poised for unparalleled revenue growth when the coronavirus outbreak is over.

Adding online ordering isn’t as hard or time consuming as many restaurant operators fear. When California began imposing restrictions on restaurants, Kevin Youkilis, former Major League Baseball star and owner of Los Gatos, California-based Loma Brewing Company, explored what technology was available to help his restaurant’s situation. With the help of SpotOn, he was able to swiftly transition his restaurant to an entirely off-premise dining model with integrated online ordering.

Kevin Youkilis Online Ordering from SpotOn

“SpotOn’s ability to create an online ordering system on our website has provided efficiency and the ability to maintain social distancing during the Covid 19 pandemic,” Youkilis remarked. “In a very tough time for restaurants, SpotOn has gone above and beyond.”

How Much Can You Save with Online Ordering Compared to Third-Party Delivery Services?

Third-party delivery services are convenient, but even before the COVID-19 outbreak, their fees led to huge revenue losses. A busy restaurant sending out 40 delivery orders a day would be looking at losing $250 or more each and every day. Add that up over a month, and that’s $7,500 going into the pockets of a third-party delivery service instead of to the restaurant. In today’s environment, with restaurants having to rely solely on off-premise dining orders, it would be nearly impossible to survive with third-party delivery.

A restaurant sending 40 orders a day through third-party delivery services is likely losing over $7,500 a month!

In stark contrast, online ordering allows customers to order directly from your website or using a free mobile app, and assuming it’s a commission free service like SpotOn’s online ordering service, you are now keeping all your hard-earned money.

At SpotOn, we are taking it a step further to help restaurants during this trying time by waiving the setup charge for online ordering and waiving the monthly software cost until January 2021. In short, we can get you up and running with integrated online ordering with no upfront costs and no contract, and in most cases we can do it in less than 48 hours.

Keep Your Staff Working by Fulfilling Take-Out and Delivery Orders

The beauty of taking orders online is that it frees up your staff from taking phone orders and having to enter orders from third-party tablets into your POS. With SpotOn’s integrated online ordering, for example, orders are automatically sent to your kitchen with lead times programmed to your specifications, either through your SpotOn Restaurant POS, a dedicated online ordering printer station, or via email with no hardware needed.

With your staff freed up from doing busy-work, they can now help you increase revenue by fulfilling more orders. Some ideas you can consider include:

  • Non-kitchen staff can be cross-trained to help in the kitchen preparing and packaging to-go orders
  • Employees can be utilized to provide your own delivery service or curbside pickup
  • Your employees will also get tips from customers rather than those tips going to a third-party delivery person, further helping them weather these tough financial times

Make Ordering Easy for Your Customers, and Easy to Find

With everything going on right now, customers want to support local restaurants more than ever, and they would prefer to do business directly with you rather than using a third-party delivery app. Integrated online ordering makes it easy for them to do just that.

With a custom online ordering menu available for your customers to browse at their leisure, chances are they will spend more money than compared to placing a phone order.

With online ordering from SpotOn, for example, customers can order right from your website, where they are most likely to find you when doing an internet search (and if you don’t have a website that’s suitable for online ordering, SpotOn can even build you a custom website with no upfront costs and rush turnaround time). Customers can also order directly from your restaurant using our free consumer mobile app. Lastly, re-ordering is fast and easy thanks to 3-click reordering and card-on-file, meaning customers are more likely to come back often.

To make sure you’re funneling online orders directly to your restaurant, you’ll want to take several concrete steps to also ensure it’s easy for customers to find your online ordering page:

Streamline Your Menu for Maximum Profitability

To get the most from online ordering, it’s important to trim your menu offerings down to items that are both popular and profitable. Streamlining your menu not only improves sales, but also cuts costs by preventing food waste and making it easier to cross-train employees to help in the kitchen.

Online Ordering for Restaurants from SpotOn

It’s also important to consider the situation of your customers. In all likelihood, they are isolated at home and tired of preparing food for themselves, so make life easy for them. Some menu ideas to consider offering during the coronavirus lock-down include:

  • Family-style meals
  • Meal kits or take-and-bake meals
  • Alcoholic beverages (if allowed in your state and local jurisdiction)

The goal is to create efficiency across the board. Online ordering technology boosts the efficiency of the ordering process for you, so do what you can to further boost efficiency by minimizing food costs and food waste, streamlining takeaway packaging, and so on.

Own Your Customer Data so You Can Stay Connected

One huge cost many restaurant operators don’t consider when it comes to third-party delivery services, is that the third-party company owns your customers’ data, not you. That shouldn’t be the case with online ordering on your own website. With SpotOn’s online ordering solution, for example, you own your customer data, giving you the ability to reach out to them with your own marketing campaigns and deals to keep them coming back.

Having this ability is important now more than ever because you need to be proactive in communicating how your customers can get food from you. If utilizing the SpotOn platform, you would want to utilize the following marketing strategy to get maximum engagement from customers:

  • Send a marketing email right from your mobile phone or computer, informing customers of your new hours and menu options, and giving them the link to order directly from your website or the free SpotOn mobile app
  • Send a limited-time deal on a cost-efficient menu item to encourage customers to order take-out or delivery from you
  • Share a limited-time deal on your Facebook business page to encourage customers to order take-out or delivery from you
  • Send a separate marketing email to let your customers know how they can purchase gift cards and any restaurant souvenirs/swag/gifts you have for sale—all of which can give you an instant infusion of cash
  • If you have an optional digital loyalty program, you would also want to create some new special rewards as incentives for customers to place online orders repeatedly in the weeks to come

At the end of the day, it’s all about putting the processes into place with online ordering so customers can connect directly with you to place orders for takeaway, curbside pickup, or delivery. That, in turn, puts more money in your pocket, boosts the efficiency of processes so you can fulfill more orders—enabling you to keep your customers fed, your employees working, and revenue rolling.

SpotOn is here for the long-haul and we look forward to getting through this together by helping you incorporate online ordering, build a new website if needed, reach your customers with marketing campaigns, and more. Contact us using the appropriate link below and let’s get started.

Existing SpotOn Clients ↓Add Online Ordering

All other food & beverage businesses ↓Get Started with Online Ordering

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