Open for Takeout sign in restaurant

What restaurant and foodservice operators must focus on to win in the post-COVID era

by Kent Savage, Founder and Executive Chairman

 

Finding the path forward isn’t easy. The entire foodservice industry is working hard to adapt and renew. This is true for restaurants, business and institutional feeders, educational institutions and everyone else in the foodservice space.

The new “Next” won’t be like the “before times” we knew just months ago. Many variables are not yet known, but what we do know for sure is that there will be less on-premises dining and more off-premises dining. That means more takeout and delivery — much more.

Foodservice operators across the landscape have no choice. To survive, they must reconfigure and reinvent their businesses to respond to the new realities of the market. Many of the first steps to discover new operating models were driven by survival. Now, operations must move very quickly towards profitability and sustainability.

Three must-do’s for better off-premises

In our new environment, there are three key areas restaurants and foodservice operators need to focus on:

  1. Contactless ordering and payment
  2. Efficiently and profitably preparing and putting the order in the customer’s hands and delighting their customers
  3. Providing secure, safe order pickup — for takeout customers and delivery drivers

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:

 

1. Contactless ordering and payment

The order-ahead-and-pay piece is soon going to be table stakes — customers already expect it. Operators will have no choice, they’re going to have to offer it or else customers will find alternatives who do — no matter how much they like you or your food.

 

2. Fulfill the order more efficiently and profitably

Preparing high volumes of orders for off-premises consumption will require very different processes to ensure a high-quality experience. To make money in the new world, operators will need to be more efficient than ever before. Yet delighting customers is more important than ever, especially for those who are reluctant to venture out in the first place.

 

3. Provide secure, safe order pickup

Providing a seamless handoff to takeout customers and delivery drivers must be automated, for many reasons. Putting two human beings together to hand off an order creates many problems:

  • It’s not acceptable from a social distancing perspective
  • It’s inefficient and expensive from the operators’ perspective
  • It’s awkward and unpleasant from the customers’ and drivers’ perspectives

Restaurant employee loads order into Flow-Thru

The solution: Give them some space (and time)

Since face-to-face handoffs are not a good idea, asynchronous handoff is now essential. With Apex Order Pickup Solutions, employees and customers never have to interact. In other words, the order is prepared and placed in a safe and secure locker compartment by an employee, who then moves on to the next order. The customer or delivery driver then picks it up at their convenience. They simply scan their pickup code and the compartment door opens—contactless order pickup in about 7 seconds.

These intelligent solutions are much more than just “lockers.” They marry digital order tracking and real-time data flows with self-serve automated delivery to customers and drivers. This creates a whole new experience for them and amazing efficiencies for operators.

They can process a high volume of orders. Dwell time (time an order stays in the locker compartment) has proven to be very short. Customers and drivers pick up their orders quickly. The system is highly modular. Even our smallest systems can handle 50 to 100 orders per day. We can easily double capacity or triple it or scale it a big as you need to meet virtually any volume of orders.

Best of all, these solutions generate net financial benefits from day one literally paying for themselves through a variety of flexible financial options, either through Apex or our global network of authorized resellers and integrators.

It’s fast and easy to implement and it solves one of the biggest problems that foodservice and restaurant operators must face in this new post-COVID world.