With social distancing likely to continue for the foreseeable future, restaurants will need to capture demand in as many ways as they can including takeout, delivery, and a method that was only on the radar for some up until recently…. curbside pickup! In a time when independent restaurants cannot afford to hire an abundance of their own delivery drivers or to pay the often-high fees associated with third-party delivery apps (some as high as 30%), now is the time to get contact-free pick-up down to a science.
In a perfect world, this is what a perfectly executed curbside pickup would look like…
- Customer calls ahead or orders online
- Customer pays ahead with a credit card (over the phone or online) to avoid cash transactions and another point of contact
- Customer picks up their meal and rides off into the sunset, completely satisfied!
In reality, it’s not that easy. There are a lot of factors to consider when adapting your business for curbside. We’ve outlined some things you should consider whether you’re just getting started with curbside pickup or you’ve already got your procedure in place.
If you’re accepting orders online…
- Does your website have an option for customers to enter their vehicle information?
- Can customers enter and confirm their pickup day/time?
- Does your website clearly communicate to your customer how/if they need to let you know when they have arrived to pick-up their order? (For example: Does the customer need to call/text when they arrive? Are there designated spots for curbside pickup? Should the customer roll down their window or pop their trunk for their order?)
If you are accepting orders over the phone, or only taking phone orders…
- Do you have some sort of social media presence where customers can find an up-to- date menu?
- Have you communicated clearly on your social media platforms how you are accepting orders and what to do if a customer cannot get through the first time they call?
- Is the person taking your orders making sure to collect a form of payment prior to concluding the call?
- Is the person taking your orders clearly communicating how the curbside process will work? (For example: Does the customer need to call/text when they arrive? Are there designated spots for curbside pickup? Should the customer roll down their window or pop their trunk for their order?)
For your staff:
So, you’re almost there. Your customer has placed their order. You’ve told them exactly what they need to do. They just pulled up. You recognize their vehicle. You’re in the endzone now. It’s go-time.
Your curbside all-star is going to need to be equipped with the following things:
- Facemask (which is mandated in most states)
- Tasty food in hand
*Something to consider: Does your customer need to sign a receipt? If so, consider a mini clipboard with a pen fastener for a less clumsy transaction. Make sure your staff has sanitizer to wipe down after each transaction.
Putting it into practice…
You might be thinking to yourself “is it even possible to do this right?” The answer is yes! One independent operator who has gotten this down to a science is Copperhead Grille. With locations in Allentown and Center Valley, both have made curbside look easy. Co-owner, Mike Dontas Senior, said that their goal was to kick-off their curbside program in spring of 2020, but the current restrictions resulted in them changing their business model to adapt. They began implementing curbside pickup as well as contactless delivery using their own drivers in early March. Within about two weeks, they began using third party apps for delivery such as Grubhub and DoorDash to keep up with demand. Mike says that he still finds the majority of his customers are utilizing his curbside pickup feature. He attributes this to his website’s ease of use and the sense of control customers get from picking up their order directly from Copperhead.
So how does the curbside pickup process at Copperhead Grille work? It starts with their easy to use online ordering system. You begin by selecting your pickup time. Then you fill your cart with any number of delicious items from their menu, enter your credit card information, enter your vehicle information, even leave your awesome staff a tip, and place your order! When it’s time to pick up your order, you pull into the designated curbside pick-up spots and a member of the Copperhead team will come out to place your order in your trunk or backseat. Copperhead Grille has gone the extra mile by not just putting these practices into place, but letting customers know exactly what the curbside experience will look like through Facebook videos, going live on Instagram, and even a Boomerang or two! You’ll see from the dino-mite photo they posted to advertise their curbside and takeout that Copperhead Grille has gone above and beyond to both execute a flawless curbside program and put a smile on their customers’ faces in the process!