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How to Pivot Your Restaurant to Online Ordering

How to Pivot Your Restaurant to Online Ordering

When group gathering limits and lockdowns went into effect nationwide, many full-service restaurants in the US found themselves pivoting to takeout only, a service that some of them had never or rarely offered before. According to Penn State University research, the restaurant industry lost $25 billion in sales in just the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. One restaurant business model in particular that has been struggling more than others during this challenging time is full-service restaurants (FSRs).

FSRs have been facing greater challenges than casual restaurants, largely due to the restrictions on on-premise dining – the primary revenue stream for most FSRs. So what can FSRs do to cope with dining restrictions that may stick around for the foreseeable future?

For some restaurateurs, the answer is pivoting from dine-in to a takeout-focused, casual restaurant business model. This pivot involves making changes such as implementing a takeout-friendly menu, upgrading your technology, and creating a system for contactless order pickup.

5 Steps to Pivot Your Restaurant Business Model

  1. Start with a Business Plan

    While you don’t necessarily have to rewrite your restaurant business plan from scratch, it’s helpful to go through much of the exercise to understand the market for a new concept and create a solid strategy for executing it.

  2. Revisit Your Menu

    To make a successful pivot, you may have to change your menu. Remove any dishes that don’t travel well or take a long time to prepare. Speed and deliverability are the keys to success as a casual restaurant concept. Add more menu items that retain their quality in transport and are good when reheated.

  3. Adjust Your Operations for Takeout

    As your restaurant shifts towards fulfilling more takeaway orders, it will need less front-of-house space and more back-of-house space. Start by optimizing your kitchen layout for quick preparation – and assembly line configuration is ideal. You’ll also need to create an area from which guests can pick up their orders. If possible, create a drive-thru ordering system.

  4. Upgrade Your Technology

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  5. Repurpose Staff

    A shift in concept also requires a staffing shift. While a takeout-focused restaurant will require more kitchen staff and fewer front-of-house (FOH) team members, this doesn’t mean you have to let staff go. Instead, think about repurposing your FOH team. You can use them to take drive-thru orders, manage phone or online orders, and pack food-to-go.

    And now, you are ready to promote your restaurant model for taking online orders and keep your business running!

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