I spent a long time refining the online ordering systems and processes in my restaurant and I made to conscious decision to do so without using the only commercial provider at the time MenuLog. Knowing the effort that goes into running a busy restaurant I just couldn't get my head round the concepts of paying someone 20% commission for what is just an online order. I am by no means suggesting that what you are currently doing is wrong, but I will point out some of my leanings along the way and some proven ideas to drive more success from this relatively new FoodTech.
- Recognise the benefits of online ordering - It is incredibly important to keep track of your cost of sales, especially if you are using an commission based ordering platform. But using and encouraging the use of your own online ordering system does free up staff from lengthy phone order conversations, reduces customer complaints from misunderstandings, allows you to collect and analyse order trends, capture customer information for marketing and much more. One day I actually sat down with a stop watch and timed how long it took to take a phone order versus an online order. The average phone order was 1m:45s and the average online order was just 0m:15s!
- Market the service - Knowing and understanding that there are benefits in online ordering, it pays to market and treat online ordering and your preferred and premium service. This means your staff can focus on making more quality food faster, up-selling existing customers which all result in more dollars on your bottom line.
- Don't pay commission on orders via your own website - The whole principal of using services like MenuLog is to generate new business that you wouldn't normally get and that is what justifies the fee. However, these providers have quickly learned that if they offer you a 'FREE' template website, they can not only direct new customers to use the commission based system, but they can also sell your regular customers back to by encouraging them to order via their website and then charge you a commission. The best way to avoid this is to decline all offers for free websites and use a commission-free platform like Takeaway Solutions to either embed the service on your current website or get them to build you a site.
- Online Menus have lots of features - The problem with traditional menus is that they are expensive to produce and you have to stick with them until you can justify changing them again. This isn't such a big deal inside your restaurant, but producing and changing your takeaway menu presents a lot of problems that result in unhappy customers (i.e. change of reference numbers mean the wrong item being ordered). With online menus, it costs you nothing but a little time to change and you can change as often as you want. Most platforms provide a lot of functionality so you can allow for more flexibility, use upsell techniques and special offers to increase your customers average spend.
- Payment Types - Taking credit card for online payment is really efficient for deliveries but when it comes to the fees, it definitely pays to shop around (we generally recommend Stripe or Braintree payments) and it also pays to avoid accepting credit card when you don't have to. One change you can make, at least with our platform, is that you can set what payment methods are allowed for each payment mehtod. i.e. We actually removed the credit card payment option from pick-up orders to save us paying credit card fees on all pick-up orders, meaning more profit for you.
If you have any ideas to add, please feel free to share them in the comment or drop us an email with the ideas you would like us to share with other restaurant owners.
Former restauranteur & MD of Takeaway Solutions
- Christopher TTimm