Now that the nation has largely been locked down for a couple of months, the Team at Response Labs wanted to learn from consumers about their takeout and delivery experiences so we could share some practical tips to help restaurants through these tough times. We surveyed 100 consumers between 18 and 64 years of age who ordered takeout or delivery at least once during the previous 30 days.
Consumers Prefer to Order Takeout and Delivery By Calling The Restaurant
The first thing we wanted to learn was how consumers prefer to place their order. With all of the technology available to us all, it was a bit surprising to see that half of the respondents prefer to call their order in, while a little over a quarter prefer the restaurant’s website or mobile app. Delivery services such as Grubhub and DoorDash represented a 14% share as well, demonstrating their growing popularity during the pandemic.
Restaurants can use the personal experience of the order coming in through a phone call to create a dynamite customer experience while driving home some of the key behavior-drivers we surfaced in our previous survey — like reinforcing the support local movement.
Make sure that the person taking the call is well trained to use the order as a valuable opportunity to create a dynamite user experience.
- “Thank you for supporting us during these tough times. We employ _____ people from the local area and we’re working hard to make sure we keep them busy. You’re helping a lot.”
- “We are taking a lot of precautions to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. Are there any specific things that would make your experience with us better?”
Clear Communication About COVID-19 Precautions Drove Customer Satisfaction
We asked consumers to rate their satisfaction level of one takeout/delivery experience they had, and to tell us what COVID19 precautions they observed the restaurant taking. The majority (65%) surveyed said they were “Very Satisfied” with what they saw. Another 17% were “Somewhat Satisfied” giving a combined satisfaction score of 82%.
How did restaurants score so high? They took care of the basics in making sure masks and gloves were worn by employees/drivers, and by offering a contactless experience. Clear communication about the precautions in place and proper packaging played big roles as well.
With this knowledge that customers are largely satisfied with what they’re seeing in their takeout/delivery experiences, there is an opportunity to gain new customers by communicating these moves to prospects on a regular basis. Our survey shows that 30% of initial respondents haven’t ordered takeout/delivery in the last 30 days providing a rich target audience to convert to customers as the pandemic continues. In addition, people who are already ordering during the pandemic overwhelmingly agree (74%) that COVID19 is affecting their choice of restaurants.
There are many opportunities to communicate and demonstrate the lengths restaurants are going to to ensure the safety and health of their customers. Here are a few thought starters.
- Be cautious of “COVID Fatigue” as people are growing tired of being bombarded with safety messaging.
- Provide images of the actual staff wearing masks and gloves, while still having a positive experience.
- Show a summary of recent positive reviews that reference the safe experiences combined with friendly staff.
- Provide clear directions for takeout including where to park, where to pickup food, how to pay without contact, etc.
Few Customers Add Alcohol to Their Order–But Those That Do Like Cocktails
Across the country we’ve seen the rules governing alcohol sales be loosened to allow restaurants to sell beer, wine and cocktails for takeout/delivery. We wanted to see how many people were taking advantage of this change, and for those who did, what they’re drinking.
First off, most customers (80%) are not ordering alcohol of any kind for takeout/delivery – yet. If you’re a restaurant thinking about offering alcohol to increase average order, keep this in mind. If it’s an easy addition, it might be worth trying sooner rather than later. But if the foundation for alcohol sales isn’t in place, it may not be worth the investment until this part of the order increases.
For restaurants that do have the capability to sell alcohol easily, it was surprising to find that most customers that ordered alcohol ordered cocktails over beer and wine with 10%, 8% and 4% shares respectively. Restaurants are optimistic this is a sign of things to come.
There is a lot of headroom in getting people to purchase alcohol with their takeout/delivery order. One reason for the high number of people who haven’t (yet) is that it hasn’t been a common behavior up to this point. The laws have only recently allowed this. We can think of the 20% who have purchased alcohol as the early adopters of this new normal and focus on getting the early/late majority to start buying alcohol in their takeout/delivery orders.
More great news is that cocktails are highly profitable. In some cases, the alcohol sales account for 50% of restaurant receipts and bring a lot down to the bottom line – especially cocktails. Cocktails featuring the low cost, fan favorite vodka can have a pour cost of only 15%.
With the restaurant’s newfound ability to sell alcohol to takeout/delivery customers, there are two main paths to focus on, getting people to try it, and steering them towards highly profitable cocktails.
- Make it known that your restaurant is selling alcohol with your takeout/delivery orders via social media, email, SMS, apps, website and especially the order takers on the phone.
- Create premade cocktails featuring vodka to reduce wait time and accidental pours driving profit even higher.
- Create bundle purchases that include alcohol to incentivize trial.
The Restaurant Industry is On the Right Path to Recovery
Overall, in a very short period of time, restaurants have successfully shifted from the dining-in staple that drove most store revenue to strictly offering takeout/delivery. The new set of COVID19 precautions restaurants must take are largely being adhered to and customers are noticing and appreciative.
Now is the time to build on these early successes and grow market share through consistent use of the right messaging. The customers have demonstrated their support and they’re clear about what they want. It’s the restaurant’s job to deliver (pun intended).
We hope this survey data helped spark some thoughts for how you will approach messaging with your prospects and customers over the coming months. If there’s anything the Team at Response Labs can help with, just let us know.