Sarah Taylor is a content author at High Speed Training, the specialist online training provider to the hospitality sector. Here, she advises restaurants, pubs and cafes on how they can adapt their business for delivery services in response to government guidelines on the coronavirus epidemic:
Following the government’s call to close restaurants, pubs and cafes, many establishments have taken the initiative to temporarily change their business models and operate solely as a takeaway or delivery service.
Customers are keen to show their support, as demonstrated by the widespread use of #supportlocal on social media. During the week businesses closed their doors to dine-in customers, the popular hashtag was used more than 13,000 times per day on average, an increase of 72% on the seven days prior*.
We conducted research this week 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 restaurants, pubs and cafes as they create new survival strategies, we asked the nation what would make them more likely to order a takeaway or delivery service from their ‘local’.
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 direct to the public such as freshly made pasta and sauces.
From a marketing perspective, a quarter of people (25%) 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, for example hosting virtual cooking classes.
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 in urban areas 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 be reacting 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.
*Source: Meltwater, 23rd March 2020.
**Source: Nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults in the UK, conducted 25th – 26th March 2020 by OnePoll.