Turning to takeaway

Sarah Taylor, content author for High Speed Training, advises outlets on how they can adapt their businesses for delivery services in response to the latest government guidelines.

Sarah Taylor, content author for High Speed Training, advises outlets on how they can adapt their businesses for delivery services in response to the latest government guidelines…

Following the government’s call to close the nation’s eateries, many establishments have taken the initiative to temporarily change their business models and operate as a takeaway or delivery service. We conducted research recently with more than 2,000 members of the public. The nationally-representative survey highlighted continued widespread support and demand for local hospitality venues to serve their communities during lockdown – 83% of people would order food and drink to enjoy at home.

While the new legislation allowing takeaway and delivery services, as well as the online public support, represents a much-needed lifeline for hospitality businesses, it brings with it new challenges and a steep learning curve to ensure operations are run effectively and safely. New food hygiene procedures and contactless delivery methods are two of the many considerations that managers across the UK are grappling with.

To help guide canteens, cafés, restaurants and pubs as they create new survival strategies, we asked the nation what would make them more likely to order a takeaway or delivery service. Paying online and the promise of high food hygiene standards were the two most popular criteria, both voted for by 42% of Brits, providing a useful indicator for the information businesses should be promoting. Contactless delivery with no face-to-face contact was third (28%). Recognising the demands on supermarkets currently, many people also pointed to a preference to avoid stores where possible (25%), or a lack of available delivery slots (22%), which provides a solid rationale for businesses selling groceries, such as freshly made pasta and sauces, direct to the public.

From a marketing perspective, 25% of people indicated that they would like to be made aware of healthy meal options. Online interaction, whether via websites or social media channels, was revealed to be the least likely way to prompt an order.

Looking internally, implementing new operations at the same time as meeting a surge in demand for delivery can be extremely difficult for businesses to manage. Wherever possible, businesses should try to develop short-, medium- and long-term contingency plans that factor in processes for keeping standards high, timely order fulfilment and balancing good stock levels of fresh ingredients.

One of the biggest challenges will be choosing how to fulfil orders. Look at the benefits and limitations for delivering food direct to customers or signing up to a delivery provider if within a catchment area. The likes of Deliveroo and Uber Eats have recently published guidelines for restaurants as they see sign-ups soar. Those outside of their catchment areas, or that prefer to go solo, may prefer to utilise software from the likes of Access Hospitality. Whichever route is chosen, the method of serving customers needs to adhere to the legal requirements for food delivery services and work efficiently for both the business and consumer.

As well as choosing the most convenient delivery model, businesses should also review and condense their menu to streamline their service and adjust opening hours to target peak time periods in order to guarantee profitability. These are disruptive and defining times for the hospitality sector, and businesses need to react quickly to the constantly evolving situation. Fully grasping how and why Brits are changing their eating habits, as well as carefully reviewing how best to modify their offering, are just some of the simple steps businesses need to be taking into account in order to keep up with the change in demand.