Restaurants have a problem. One that started to emerge pre-pandemic, and that’s gathered momentum ever since. Restaurant owners want to provide a flexible service to their customers, to allow them to enjoy their food wherever they wish, while still retaining the quality of a dining-in experience. Currently, there’s a clash. And it’s caused by one thing. One entrance. Used by both guests arriving for a sit-down meal, and delivery drivers waiting to collect their orders for hungry app-users. And these entrances ain’t big enough for the both of them. We think, something’s got to give.
The scale of the issue
Our client, a high street restaurant group, were the first to highlight this problem to us. With a chain of restaurants across the UK, they’d noticed that in some sites, 20% of their overall business could be attributed to take-out. A huge departure from where they were pre-pandemic, at just 1%.
This jump in delivery-based trade – although an extremely positive sign for the longevity of the restaurants – has brought about several challenges.
What are the challenges?
Under pressure: First and foremost is the extra pressure on staff. Before the delivery boom, the front-of-house team need only concentrate on welcoming and seating their customers. But now they’re expected to shepherd drivers from multiple food apps to ensure they collect the correct orders from the kitchen, in a timely manner. As a result, the customer experience is compromised.
Go the distance: During lockdown, the Grocer published this article on the concentration of app delivery drivers congregating outside of restaurants. Although social distancing rules have been relaxed, they are still adhered to by many, who feel uncomfortable with the thought of being in crowded spaces. The increased bottleneck of waiting customers and delivery drivers, not to mention customers collecting orders themselves, in restaurant entrances, is not only a pandemic-related problem, but one that is set to grow with the popularity of takeaways.
Too many cooks: Restaurant kitchens are busy places at the best of times, let alone now, with the addition of delivery drivers waiting at the pass. Depending on the positioning of the entrance in relation to the kitchen and tables, this walkway also has the potential to become a high-traffic area that encroaches on the restaurant’s overall ambience and guest safety.
For our client, all of these factors were contributing to a dissatisfying experience for everyone involved. Customers felt they weren’t being given the staff’s full attention, or that their safety wasn’t considered a priority. And delivery drivers were frustrated with no designated space to wait, away from the restaurant floor.
When presented with the issue, we knew just the solution. One that would address all the challenges in one fell swoop. By installing our Pre Order Pods in an area next to the kitchen, but away from the main restaurant and accessed via a separate entrance, both delivery drivers and dine-in customers can get the right level of experience for their visit. For the drivers, their orders are ready and waiting in a dedicated food locker – either hot or cold depending on the contents, exactly the right size with identification logos for Deliveroo, Just Eat etc – to be collected using the customer’s order number.
Diners can enter the restaurant in a safe, distanced manner, with space to relax and meet the front-of-house host before being seated at their table.
And for the staff, the pressure of dealing with multiple parties is eased, while the pass remains clear for serving only the diners on site.
In next week’s blog post we’ll go into more detail on how we developed our products to suit this exact client’s requirements. And stay tuned for a case study, coming soon!
In the meantime, if you have questions about how we could solve the challenges your business is facing, please get in touch.