Creating the Best Takeout Experience for Your Customers

  • Faced with a shortage of employees, especially delivery drivers, pizzerias need to ramp up their takeout game to remain profitable.
  • Treat your takeout customers like dine-in customers, and you can win repeat business and positive online reviews.

Related: Increase your pizzeria’s sales by improving your carryout and curbside game

By Megan Prevost

Takeout is all about easy. If your customers have to jump through hoops to get a takeout meal from your restaurant, they might not want to do it again. This is important to consider because takeout orders tend to be a huge chunk of revenue for restaurants, especially since the pandemic began. That means you’ve got to do it right!

Thanks to a shortage of delivery drivers, leading chains have been pushing takeout heavily in recent months, offering customers a better deal if they pick up their orders. In February, Domino’s even offered its patrons a $3 “tip” if they ordered their pizza online and essentially “delivered” their own pizza. But it’s important to treat your takeout experience the same as you treat your dine-in experience. Use top-tier customer service, only serve high-quality food, and go the extra mile to make customers remember your restaurant the next time they’re hungry.

Quality Takeout Menus
What does a quality takeout menu entail? For starters, your menu should never be too complicated. Make sure it’s organized, easy to read, and a good visual representation of your brand. Use your logo and color scheme so that when people see your menu, they know which restaurant it’s for.

To keep things easy, don’t make your customers skim through the whole menu to find your contact info. Choose a professional-looking menu template that displays your restaurant’s phone number and address clearly on the front so customers can order without fuss. Likewise, be sure to include all of your most updated prices on the menu to avoid frustration or confusion.

Consider using a QR code menu or an online ordering form to make things even easier. Allowing customers to place takeout orders online is contactless, helps ensure accuracy, and saves staff time so they can stay busy making pizzas instead of answering phones. You can even place these QR codes on stickers and paste them onto your takeout bags or containers for customers to access later on easily.

Don’t Make Takeout Service an Afterthought
Customer service matters even when customers aren’t dining at your tables. Speed, friendliness and respect should still be prioritized when taking and fulfilling takeout orders. If your restaurant is particularly busy, it’s a good idea to hire staff members who are solely responsible for handling takeout orders to enhance efficiency.

Your restaurant staff should manage takeout orders just like they would take a table’s order. That could mean asking about allergies, recommending specials or helping a customer choose between two dishes. Likewise, staff might ask customers if they need any special accommodations, such as curbside takeout, extra napkins, labels on certain items or separate packaging.

You should also include utensils, napkins and appropriate condiments with every takeout order. Customers shouldn’t have to ask for these basic necessities, and you don’t want to lose a customer over a plastic fork!

Related: How leading pizza chains handle delivery and carryout

Show Your Appreciation
Quality customer service means showing appreciation to your loyal customers. Just because they’re not dining in-house doesn’t mean you can’t go the extra mile for them! In fact, they’re making your life easier by simply placing an order and taking it home, so extend the same courtesy to them. Here are some super-simple ways to show regulars that you appreciate their business and entice customers to return again:

  • Loyalty programs. When customers know they’ll earn a discount after a certain number of orders, they’re more likely to return. Encourage them to join your restaurant’s loyalty program and consider adding incentives for takeout orders. To help them keep up with their rewards, you can even hand out branded loyalty cards on which each visit gets noted. After 10 or so orders, offer a free pizza pie, a complimentary dessert, a half-off discount, or even a free dine-in meal. Get creative and do what works for your spot.
  • Takeout discounts. Periodically or during a slower season, announce a customer appreciation discount on takeout orders—this could be anything from 5% to 50% off, a BOGO deal, or whatever works for your business. A discount like this is a win-win for your restaurant and customers, especially if you strategically announce this sale and introduce a new menu item or dinner special. Share these offers on social media for optimal reach! Additionally, discounts can help you garner more reviews for your restaurant. Yelp has a feature wherein restaurants can offer a discount of their choice through the Yelp app so that users can see your pizzeria’s page and feel enticed to pay you a visit. The feature allows you to offer a discount in exchange for a customer check-in or review.
  • Complimentary goodies. Again, make takeout an experience that’s just as rewarding as your dine-in experience is. If you hand out free garlic knots in-house, include a to-go basket of garlic knots with takeout orders. Likewise, consider throwing in free samples of dinner specials, newer menu items or complimentary desserts to give customers a delightful surprise.

Related: How to provide a better carryout pizza

Restaurant-Worthy Food
Don’t cut corners in food prep just because diners aren’t trying your food at a table inside your restaurant. Sure, their dish won’t be served on gleaming, Instagram-worthy dinnerware, but the presentation still matters. If a customer opens a box to find a messy, shoddily-made pizza, they’ll feel frustrated and unimportant and might lose trust in your restaurant. Put simply, they won’t feel inclined to visit your pizzeria for a dine-in experience if their takeout was unpleasant.

Of course, once the food leaves your restaurant, you can’t control what might happen to it. But you can get specific with your packaging to avoid spillage, leaking or soggy pizza. Spend the extra buck on high-quality takeout boxes and box liners and use your best judgment when packaging your food.

Make Takeout Top-Tier for Your Customers
Despite the ever-changing nature of our world, it seems that takeout is a service that consumers won’t give up anytime soon. Especially now that third-party delivery services are becoming more widespread, your takeout game is likely on the rise. Take extra measures to ensure that your takeout experience positively represents your restaurant to keep your reputation sparkling. Plus, you’ve got the chance to turn a takeout customer into a dine-in regular!

Megan Prevost is a marketing content writer for MustHaveMenus. When she’s not writing about restaurant marketing, she’s hanging out with her three cats and binging the latest television shows. Her work has appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, CLH News, FanSided, FSR, Miss Details, Modern Restaurant Management, PMQ, QSR, RestoBiz, RestoHub, Site Social SEO, Small Business Currents, and The Daily Fandom.