Tips on Making Takeout Fresh and Managing the Timing of Delivery
Written by Chef Colin Burslem, Culinary Director for Joseph Richard Group and Meal Ticket Brands
The dine-in experience is crucial in converting a new customer to a loyal, returning guest. Within the walls of the restaurant, there are countless opportunities for a chef, management and culinary or service team to impact the customer and increase the chance of creating a long-standing guest.
When it comes to take-out, there is less opportunity to entice a customer to reorder. Chefs must rely on food packaging, freshness, and presentation to convert a new customer into a returning guest. As an experienced Chef, I have learned the do’s and don’ts when it comes to creating and managing take-out orders. After many years of creating both restaurant and take-out experiences, I have found these tips make a huge impact on the freshness, quality and overall customer satisfaction when it comes to food delivery.
When preparing food for delivery, you should always consider the state of the product when the customer opens it. We want to ensure that despite the rough and tumble of transport, our meals are arriving in appetizing condition. The less room for the items to move or fall within their containers, the more likely our products will arrive intact.
Depending on the type of dish, select the packaging that works best for the temperature of the food. If food is cold, it is easier to manipulate presentation and ensure superior quality. When packaging hot food, keep in mind that the packaging will retain heat, including steam and moisture, which can often create a soggy texture. Sourcing containers that allow items to breathe, as well as timing the packaging of items with the pickup of the order are key aspects in ensuring the food retains an appetizing texture.
The Number of Items
Fitting items together into a single container can be like a game of Tetris. While we enjoy challenges and the customer might prefer a single container per menu item, it’s also important to be aware of execution from the kitchen’s standpoint. Place individual components of any single menu item into separate containers and provide clear labels to items are grouped accurately and easily identifiable for the kitchen, expo staff and customer.
Don’t Mislead Customers
Depending on the point of sale, customers will often form a mental image of the product they are ordering. When using third-party delivery apps, images are a helpful way to communicate offerings and should accurately represent the final product when delivered. When using a menu without images, an in-depth description can accomplish a similar effect.
A team is only as strong as the training they are provided. Take the time to run through the aspects of takeout and delivery with your culinary and service teams. Do they know the impact on food quality after withstanding different mediums such as heat, moisture, steam, cool, grease, or liquid? Take the time to ensure proper training materials are used and promote consistency amongst the brand. One order should not be significantly different from another based on who is cooking or packaging the food.
The dine-in experience is an equally important aspect of building reputation and customer loyalty within the restaurant industry. Finding ways to deliver the same 5-star experience using the take-out restaurant model is a key way to remain consistent in brand image. These tips are just a few of the ways you can improve your take-out service and enhance your customer experience.
Written by Chef Colin Burslem