Every restaurant has its own culture, and if you provide off-premises food services, you’ll need to create a completely unique experience. However, if you’re just starting, it can be challenging to develop your own unique menu and an experience to match. The easiest place to begin is by asking yourself a few essential questions, including:
- What will your food be like?
- What do you want your guests to experience?
- When and how do you plan to offer these food services?
- How do you plan on making your off-premises food service unique?
Off-premises food service may not seem much different than on-premises services. It just takes a little longer to give your customers their dishes. With digital delivery and off-premises food services growing by nearly 67%, it’s vital to remember that ensuring your food arrives in a palatable condition requires some forethought and planning. Here’s how to do it.
- The ingredients and containers you use can greatly affect your food’s deliverability.
- Off-premises services come with a unique set of challenges and opportunities not faced with on-premises services.
- When considering a change in delivery containers, keep sustainability in mind.
- Providing fewer menu choices can help encourage spending.
How to Improve Your Food Off-Premises Food Service Menu
When creating a pick-up or delivery menu, examine your offerings and only choose the items that will arrive looking and tasting well.
Test Your Products
For offerings you aren’t sure about, make them, put them in a travel container, and set them aside for half an hour. If they still look and taste good after that time, include them in your menu. If they don’t, you might want to leave them off or reconsider how you make and send them.
Update Your Menu
With food delivery services on the rise, consider revamping your menu for deliverability. If you have a menu full of items that arrive soggy and limp, try altering the ingredients or recipes of a handful of options to make them delivery-friendly.
Change the Container Your Food Comes In
Here are some ways to properly pack your food for delivery:
- Sending the sauces and dressings in a separate container can prevent food from arriving soggy.
- Transport hot and cold items in different bags to avoid heat transfer.
- Make sure your containers keep foods from falling apart or spilling.
Some communities are banning one-time-use disposable containers due to their impact on the environment. While it may tap into your pocketbook a little to purchase recycled plastic or polypropylene containers, these can have benefits for your customers beyond the environment. For example, recycled plastic and polypropylene can safely be microwaved, allowing patrons to heat leftovers without dirtying another dish. These products also don’t give off odors or chemicals that might change the flavor of your food.
Remember, biodegradable plastics don’t necessarily degrade in landfills due to the lack of sunlight, air, and moisture in their surroundings. So don’t discount a sturdy paper product for short trips. Your customers will thank you. More than 70% of consumers want to impact the environment positively, so becoming increasingly sustainable will connect you to your customers in a positive way.
How Can Your Off-Premises Foodservice Model Benefit You as a Business?
While you want to encourage on-premises eating, pick-up and delivery services have perks you might not be optimizing to your best advantage.
Reduce Food Costs and Waste
Consider the average on-premises customer. What are they doing? Do you have unlimited breadsticks or chips and salsa? Do you offer free refills on drinks? While these tactics please the on-premises crowd, they also rack up costs as waiting patrons mindlessly munch. Off-premises dining doesn’t have this drawback. A bag of complimentary chips and salsa or a handful of breadsticks won’t multiply as customers sit and wait for their food. Over time, this affects your bottom line for the better.
For example, offering add-on options to an online checkout process highlights them in a way the average hand-held menu can’t. These options can include things like adding extra toppings to burgers, salads, and bowls. Online checkouts can also encourage upgrades.
Get More Purchases – Even with a Limited Menu
Off-premises menus don’t have to mirror your on-site menu. In fact, menu engineers say you will make more money if they are different. It may seem logical that the more items you have on your menu, the more people will buy. However, the psychological theory “paradox of choice” says this is not true. The more choices customers have, the more confusion they feel. When this happens, they will usually revert to something they have already tried rather than trying something new and potentially more expensive. Scaled-down menus encourage spending. When creating your menu, stick with the number seven:
- Seven Starters
- Seven Entrees
- Seven Desserts, etc.
Seven options in each category provide enough variety while limiting confusing choices. This rule also makes it easier to restrict your off-premises offerings to the seven dishes that travel the best or are most popular overall. Your scaled-down menu can also encourage upgrades with offerings such as family-style meals or meals for two.
Connect With Your Food Peers
Looking for more ideas on optimizing your food business, finding the best ingredients, or learning from your international food peers? Then you’ll want to consider attending the SIAL conference. Alternatively, if you have something to offer other food professionals, then you’ll want to showcase it by exhibiting your expertise at the next SIAL conference as an exhibitor! Network with top food professionals, explore the latest trends in foodservice and connect with suppliers from all over the world.
Have You Downloaded Our 2022 Consumer Trends Report?