2020 was a challenging year for the restaurant industry, with food service and restaurant sales falling by $240 billion and over 110,000 restaurant closures across the country. However, in the face of adversity, restaurateurs and operators responded with resiliency — developing innovative ways to keep customers satisfied and adapt with new revenue streams, creative menu ideas, user-friendly online ordering, and restaurant pickup and delivery services.  

As the world begins to reopen, consumers are eager to dig into on- and off- premise options — considering the habits they’ve built during the pandemic and the excitement of returning to restaurants in-person.In partnership with Restaurant Business Online, DoorDash hosted a webinar where Director of B2B Product Marketing at DoorDash, Katie Egan, and Director of Scaffidi Restaurant Group, Frankie DiCarlantonio, explored consumer trends and opportunities for restauranteurs to optimize their menu and marketing in the weeks to come.

Watch the recording of the webinar, and read the recap below for five data-driven tips on how to find new customers, build brand loyalty, boost your bottom line, and win more local business in an ever-evolving landscape. 

Cater to both on- and off-premise diners

Frankie DiCarlantonio refers to 2020 as “the year of the pivot.” In other words, it was a time  when restaurants had to transform from places of gathering to convenient pickup and delivery hubs. For Scaffidi Restaurant Group in particular, DoorDash opened a new revenue stream that supplemented their income during a difficult year and continues to grow their business today:

“DoorDash was how we supplemented our income in 2020 because we had always been a place where people gathered for parties and drinks — and there wasn’t much gathering to do in 2020. Now, we know how DoorDash can grow your sales — not just supplement them”

Frankie DiCarlantonio

Frankie DiCarlantonio, Director of Scaffidi Restaurant Group

Off-premise orders helped restaurants everywhere stay afloat and even thrive this past year. 67% of restaurants say they were able to increase their profits during COVID-19 because of DoorDash’s delivery, pickup, and online ordering services — and this trend is continuing in 2021.

As restaurants begin reopening at varying capacities in the summer months, people are still turning to restaurant delivery and pickup to enjoy reuniting with loved ones in their homes. In an April 2021 survey from Dynata on behalf of DoorDash, 56% of people had ordered delivery at least twice in the past month, averaging 2.8 times per month, while 79% of people reported ordering food for pickup at least twice in the past month. These participants were not compensated or incentivized by DoorDash in any way. Subscribe to the blog to be the first to see our new report on 2021 consumer online ordering trends so that you can keep delivering what your consumers crave with off-premise orders. 

Engineer your menu for profitability

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that restaurants need to have a strong digital presence to drive off-premise sales and differentiate themselves from competitors. 90% of customers research a restaurant online before choosing to order delivery, and yet 20% of restaurants don’t even have a website. 

Inspire customers to take action by crafting a mouthwatering menu that makes their stomachs rumble. Descriptive language will help each dish tell a story, while high-quality photos can increase your delivery volume by 15% according to DoorDash data. For more tips, visit The Guide to Restaurant Website Marketing for insights into how to build an appetizing website that converts prospects into paying customers. 

What’s more — with DoorDash’s Merchant Portal, you can see what customers want by tracking your sales, benchmarking key metrics, and responding to customer feedback. High-quality customer service is equally important for off-premise customers, so be sure to respond to customer feedback regularly to earn a higher rating as a “Most Loved” restaurant. 

Market on- and off-premise offerings 

While customers increasingly return to restaurants with friends and family, off-premise dining is still flourishing. It’s essential that your business continues to market both offerings to ensure on-premise diners know about your off-premise options and vice versa. 

Take this opportunity to be creative — implementing in-store signage like QR codes, table tents, and window inserts to keep your in-person diners informed. For your regular restaurant pickup or delivery customers, write notes, insert flyers in to-go boxes, and share social media updates about everything you offer. As Katie Egan pointed out, “You would be surprised how much your customers want to hear from you.” 

You might also consider signing up for one of the DoorDash Partnership Plans to increase brand awareness, boost online visibility, and get your business in front of more customers. All DoorDash Partnership Plans include built-in marketing opportunities, such as offering DashPass to your customers or running promotions like “Order Again & Save” to increase orders. 

Strategize your staffing and kitchen layout, then stock up 

Prepare your team for an influx of on- and off-premise orders by organizing your staff and kitchen accordingly. Consider setting up different prep areas in the kitchen so employees can easily distinguish which meals go where. For customers or delivery drivers picking up, clearly mark where they should park and grab their food in order to maximize efficiency for restaurant pickup orders. 

Using sales insights from the Merchant Portal, you can also prepare for orders with the appropriate amount of ingredients based on expected volume and popularity — and reduce potential food waste in the process. 

Offer strong online ordering options 

A clear, intuitive online ordering platform has never been more important. In fact, 70% of customers expect restaurants to have online ordering, and 43% of people prefer to order from a restaurant’s website or app directly, according to a survey by Dynata on behalf of DoorDash. 

With DoorDash Storefront, you can turn website visitors into paying customers using an affordable, commission-free online ordering system for restaurant pickup and delivery. Give your existing customer base an easy way to order pickup and delivery directly from your own website, providing the convenient experience modern diners crave.  

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Part of delivering this experience means offering alcohol options to compliment your customers’ cuisine while also driving restaurant sales. Scaffidi Restaurant Group had great success with this: 

“We found that when customers add a bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer, there’s a 10-12% profit increase on that order.”

Frankie DiCarlantonio

Frankie DiCarlantonio, Director of Scaffidi Restaurant Group

Storefront is designed to drive higher sales with features like on-page checkout, recommended add-ons and modifications, and rich menu photos and descriptions — so you can achieve more, with less effort. 

Top webinar takeaways

2020 tested the restaurant industry — and yet restaurateurs and operators came out on top with innovative solutions for delivery, pickup, and online ordering. 79% of customers relied on DoorDash for meals during the pandemic, and this trend is continuing into 2021 as people go back into work or gather around their dining room tables, reunited with loved ones. 

For Scaffidi Restaurant Group specifically, said DiCarlantonio, “The theme of the year was versatility.” Even as the on-premise landscape evolves, restaurant delivery and pickup aren’t going anywhere — and creativity will serve your business and customers the best experience possible.

Hungry for more tips on how to increase your pickup and delivery orders? Watch the recording of this webinar, Why Delivery and Pickup Are Here to Stay, for insights into how to optimize your on- and off- premise strategy in the post-pandemic restaurant landscape. 

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author-allisonvanduyne
Allison Van Duyne
Content Marketing Manager

Allison Van Duyne is the Content Marketing Manager for DoorDash for Merchants, building helpful resources for restaurateurs to grow their business. Prior to DoorDash, she worked at Toast, a restaurant point of sale company, as well as Burger King and Subway, flipping burgers in the kitchen and selling sandwiches from the counter. When she’s not editing blog posts and publishing resources for restaurants, she can be found ordering from her favorite sushi and BBQ restaurants in Boston.