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In uncertain times, it’s good to have a friend in the business. That’s why our team of industry veterans are putting together this series of tips, resources, and advice from around the restaurant world. It’s Cheetah’s mission to help you make it through the current COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Follow along as we try to keep up with ongoing developments.   As of 12:00 AM today, all bars, nightclubs and dine-in restaurants are closed to the public by the executive order of the mayor of Los Angele. In the San Francisco Bay Area, a region-wide “shelter-in-place” has just been imposed closing all restaurants to only takeout and delivery.   This means that takeout has just become the only way for restaurants to stay open, and will probably be the only way to operate for the foreseeable future.   Setting up a takeout and delivery service takes time. But time is the one thing you simply cannot afford to lose as long as the COVID-19 pandemic carries on. Here are 4 quick steps to set up a delivery service for your restaurant.

Step 1: Decide Quickly on Your Takeout and Delivery System

Decide what you can offer and how fast you can set it up. Getting on a delivery platform like Caviar or Doordash is a quick fix, but you can also test demand by setting up phone orders today before paying commission to a delivery service. If you do decide to go with online delivery, be sure to choose a delivery platform that comes with a large installed-base of potential diners. Here are some quick signup links to some of the most popular online delivery platforms: Repurpose your staff to answer phone calls, prepare meals, package, deliver and service the drive-up orders. Be sure to have enough supplies, including:
  • Recyclable and compostable containers
  • Takeout bags and insulated totes
  • Napkins and paper towels
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Disposable eating utensil

Step 2: Let Customers Know You’re Taking Orders

Make sure your customers know you’re open for takeout. A delivery or drive-up service is a great way to stay safe and continue to service your community. Let your customers know that you are now offering to deliver your fantastic dishes directly to their home. Offer free delivery or discounts on social media if you can afford it. Customers will appreciate your effort to support the neighborhood during these uncertain times. Leverage the power of a “bounceback” offer: entice customers with a free item or discount when they can return again for an in-person visit. This sends a nice message of hope for better times, and can be a great way to retain first-time customers who may have just discovered you on a delivery platform.

Step 3: Optimize Your Orders

Orders are going to start pouring in and things can get hectic. Simplify your menu and stick to the items that fit best with the new system. Keep away from crispy items like french fries that can go soggy in minutes, and secure wet items like soup in high-quality, watertight containers. To handle the lunchtime workload, take orders in the morning and prepare ready-to-go box lunches for those who have to work from home, or pre-make boxes and sell them at centralized areas.

Step 4: Stay safe

Ensure your delivery staff are healthy and are practicing good preventative hygiene. Give customers the choice between meeting the delivery driver at the door, curbside or go “no-contact” and have their meal left at the door. Allow diners to tip electronically or place cash outside before the delivery arrives. Instruct all staff to wear latex gloves, face masks and carry hand sanitizers.

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