Carry-out has been around for decades, but it’s taken center stage since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many restaurants find themselves pivoting to offer carry-out, and they are finding more and more customers are using this service.

To help you fine-tune your operations and get the most out of your takeout options, we look at seven ideas to improve your carry-out customer experience.

#1: Be Efficient

You want your carry-out service to run as smoothly as your dining room.

First, you want to staff your carry-out appropriately. You don’t want your customers to have to wait too long for their food. Have it ready when you said you would.

Your carry-out and pick-up area should be clean and neat. Your process needs to work smoothly from kitchen to the packaging to the carry-out counter.

It’s vital that you train your carry-out staff as you would your wait staff. Make sure they know the exact process for carry-out. They should also have extensive training on customer service. (tweet this)

Since the carry-out staff is likely the only people your customers will see, you want to note that the way they are treated defines your restaurant. Good customer service begins the second your customers walk in the door.

If they can’t find what they’re looking for, or they have to wait too long, they are not going to be happy.

It’s vital that you’re very efficient with your carry-out because you don’t want your customers waiting around imagining their food is getting cold.

#2: Offer Online Ordering

More than half of your customers don’t want to call your restaurant to place a carry-out order. They want to order right from their smartphones.

Make it easy for them to find your menu online and order straight from your website.

Make sure that your excellent customer experience starts right on your website. This is the first contact you have with your carry-out customer, so you want to make sure it’s easy and intuitive for them to place an order.

In addition, provide them professional photos of every menu item so they know what to expect.

Every touch point you have with your carry-out customer offers you the ability to improve your overall customer experience. That often begins with your website.

#3: Have a Separate Entrance

Improve your carry-out customer experience by offering your takeout customers a separate entrance with ample parking.

Many of your carry-out customers don’t want to get dressed to come into the main part of your restaurant, so don’t make them. With a separate entrance they can simply run in and grab their food.

You’ll find that your customers who are worried about Covid will appreciate this feature. You can take it one step further, though.

#4: Meet Your Customers at Their Cars

You can take your carry-out customer experience to another level by not making your customers get out of their cars at all.

Let them check in on your app, online, through SMS text messaging, or by calling you. Then have your staff bring the carry-out orders to your customers’ vehicles.

You’ll have a big win for this extra service. Do be careful, though, and train your staff on how to provide great customer service outside the restaurant, too.

They should take the food out in a timely manner, carry the bags so nothing spills, and thank the customer profusely.

#5: Ensure Accurate Orders

Another tip for improving your carry-out customer experience is order accuracy every single time.

Your staff only has one chance to get takeout orders correct. Wait staff can’t bring out a new order. Get it right, or you lose the customer.

To help, use your point-of-sale software and train your staff well. Train them to check and double check the orders. They should have a system for marking orders correctly.

Your carry-out staff is in charge of ensuring the food in the carry-out containers is just what the customer ordered.

In addition, make sure to include all sides, napkins, and utensils. If possible, have the staff run over the carry-out order with the customers before they leave.

There is nothing worse than getting home with the wrong order or less than the customer ordered. So, create processes that keep this from happening.

#6: Use the Right Packaging

This is very important to your carry-out customer experience.

We recommend you test different types of packaging with your menu items. For example, what works for spaghetti may not work for a burger, fries, and veggies.

Make sure containers are durable. Make sure they won’t break, and certainly ensure they won’t leak. Take care that food items aren’t touching one another.

Everything should also be packaged in the sack appropriately.

You can go one step further and look at sustainable packaging options, too. You’ll find your customers will appreciate to-go containers they can recycle.

Final Thoughts

  • Carry-out meals are big business for today’s restaurants.
  • Takeout options are here to stay. According to one survey, 66% of adults said they ordered takeout or delivery for dinner last week. (tweet this)
  • If you currently offer carry-out, or you’re thinking about adding it, you can expect it to continue to drive a significant portion of your business.
  • What’s more, you benefit because carry-out involves less overhead for your business. Not only do you have more tables to seat in-house guests, but you spend less on staff costs.
  • What’s more, your customers are overjoyed to be able to take your delicious food home. They don’t have to go to a fast-food restaurant, and they can order their favorites from you when they don’t feel like going out.
  • Plus, you save them time cooking at home or going out to dinner. Carry-out provides an easy opportunity for you to improve your customer experience offerings.
  • Don’t forget that when a customer leaves your restaurant satisfied with your service and their food, they are more likely to be your brand ambassador. They’ll share their experience with others who in turn order carry-out or dine in at your restaurant.
  • Provide a great customer experience and superb food, and you’ll have customers for life.
  • At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can count on us to create a website that integrates seamless online ordering. Ready to take the plunge and create a new website? Get your free website consultation today!