If you are wondering how you can grow your small take-out business and gain new customers, then you really should start looking at taking it online. Taking orders either over the phone or via an online portal such as your website is only part of the expansion process that you can take. You can also offer delivery services too.
However, in order to perform any or all of these expansion tactics, you are going to have to think about the following.
#1 Purchase additional ingredients
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You are going to need additional ingredients to cope with the influx of customers. Although you may currently use a lot of fresh products, you might need to have some frozen ingredients to hand for backup. As well as this, however, you could find that buying ingredients in bulk actually works out cheaper than purchasing smaller amounts.
Ingredients such as spices and herbs can be purchased in bulk from online stores such as Olam Spices. Selecting all that you need and making up as much as a pallet load can save you time and energy, which would otherwise be spent sourcing from different stockists that do not have a broad enough range for the dishes that you do.
#2 Stock up on extra containers
Having enough food to cope with the increase in demand is one thing, but it won’t count for much if you do not have enough containers to put it in. Of course, you can make sure that your containers are the same quality as the ones you already stock, but you would do well to have your brand printed on them as well as have them made of recyclable materials. This kind of packaging speaks volumes to your customers, and you may find that this is one point that puts your product and service above that of your competitors.
It is important to understand that customers are not just food-orientated when they make purchases from a take-out joint. Proving that your business, like your food, is top quality and looking out for the environment too is a worthy point.
#3 Employ more people
You may find that due to workload, you need to hire additional employees to either man the phones, complete orders or perform the cooking. This is perfectly fine, but you should make sure that you have the increased customer numbers before you start hiring. Having employees standing around twiddling their thumbs is not just frustrating for you but also annoying for them, especially if they are working during an evening that they would rather be spending with a loved one.
#4 Choose which delivery service to use – or create your own
There are plenty of online delivery systems to use in order to get your potential customers to choose your take-out over any others. Invariably these delivery systems cater to all sorts of different take-outs, and choosing one that will provide your customers with excellent service is paramount.
As these delivery services will be collecting orders from you to take to your customers (as well as those from other businesses) you may have little control over how they act. Delivering cold food that is supposed to be hot or being rude to a customer because there is no tip forthcoming is not something that your business should suffer for – but in these circumstances, it might.
So, with this in mind, you may feel that it is better for you to hire delivery drivers yourself and have them as part of your business. This way, you can ensure that your customers will get the service that they deserve, and you are in complete control of any situation.
#5 Update your website
Of course, in order for your potential customers to find your take-out, you are going to have to update your website and make use of some SEO from an experienced SEO agency. They will indeed be able to make your business more visible online and will be able to advise you on the keywords that you will need to use on your website. They may also be able to help you understand why your website is underperforming.
Undoubtedly you will need more than a photo of your shop front and a screenshot of your menu to win the hearts and empty tummies of your potential customers. Including opening times, address, directions, as well as any business information, such as story, mission, or meeting the team, will also be highly beneficial.
#6 Make use of your social media profile
In this, you will also have to make full use of your social media profile. Regular posts will keep your customers informed of up-and-coming offers or specialties that you are proposing in order to keep your business fresh, and your customers connected with your business.
Remember that social media is a method of communication between businesses and their customers, so be prepared to be asked questions or have comments made about your posts or your business in general. Adding your support to your local community could help you win over difficult customers or naysayers, as well as growing the bond between your business and the area in general.
Taking your take-out business online is certainly a step that you can take, and the potential for growth is amazing. Many hungry customers make their initial take-out decisions on whether or not the take-out can deliver or not and those that don’t tend to get left to the wayside (unless, of course, they have tried and enjoyed the culinary experience offered at a previous time).
Opening up your business in this way could mean that you enjoy the best of both worlds, while still being able to offer the quality of food and service that you currently strive to. Undoubtedly you will have to make sure that your online presence, both website and social media profiles, are kept up to date, are easy to find, and carry fresh current information to make sure that your brand stays that the forefront of your customer’s minds.