curbside pick upWhile many restaurant customers don’t mind coming into a restaurant to retrieve takeout orders, curbside pickup is becoming an increasingly popular option among consumers and restaurant operators. Customers — especially those who are time-strapped or have young children in tow — like curbside pickup for the convenience factor. For restaurateurs, it’s a way to increase sales without expanding seating capacity or raising prices. However, following best practices is imperative to improving your curbside pickup game and maximizing its long-term potential to benefit your business.

1. Allocate and prepare staff for great curbside service. Like the dine-in component of your business, success with curbside pickup and the ability to leverage it to cultivate repeat business depends heavily on providing high-caliber customer service. To deliver on this promise, dedicate staff to take orders, watch for arrivals, and deliver food promptly to customers’ cars.

2. Carefully select and designate special parking areas. To improve efficiency and pave the way for speedier service, reserve a few parking spaces for curbside pickup only. These spaces should be as close as possible to your restaurant’s pickup counter, to ensure that customers have a convenient place to park, as well as to allow staff to readily take their orders to their vehicles.

If allocating spaces near your restaurant’s entrance isn’t feasible, consider supporting service efficiency by installing a camera in the parking lot and a monitor at the curbside station so that staff knows immediately when customers have arrived for their orders.

3. Pull out all the packaging stops. Even top notch curbside pickup service can’t compensate for poorly packaged orders. Spring for sturdy, top-quality carry-out containers that keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold, and all food in the containers. An extra investment in quality packaging will be recouped with return business from satisfied customers.

Packaging also serves another purpose: advertising for your restaurant. You can tout your curbside pickup service in a prominent spot on your bags, boxes, and containers so patrons enjoying your food at their workplace or with friends can help, inadvertently, get the word out about your curbside pickup offering.

4. Expedite the payment process. Processes that result in a lengthy wait for curbside customers when they are paying for their orders negates some of the benefits of this service meant to be quick and convenient. Make sure your staff is equipped with mobile POS to handle payment card transactions right at the customer’s vehicle window.

If you offer curbside pickup, it’s important to do it right. Following these four best practices will help put this segment of your business on the right path to return business and profitability.