Foodservice Updates is designed to help foodservice operators keep on top of all the industry news and provides tips for keeping business running smooth. We endeavor to provide the latest tips and solutions to keep you in the know.
Are your guests feeling gift card guilt?
Throughout the pandemic, restaurant gift cards have taken on extra significance – in good ways and bad. Early on, gift card purchases were perceived as a means for the public to keep their favorite restaurants afloat when the businesses couldn’t open their dining rooms or, in some cases, operate at all. Regional and industry efforts to sell gift cards endeavored to support the restaurant industry too. Yet when dining rooms began to reopen, some reports advised consumers against redeeming their gift cards – at least at the beginning while operators were still getting their footing. Even now, while restaurants may be serving a steadier stream of customers, the times don’t exactly feel normal. A recent report from Eater entitled “Am I a Jerk if I Cash in My Restaurant Gift Cards?” fielded a question from a reader who was feeling guilty about redeeming stored cards. So where do you stand on them? First, it may help to understand gift cards’ potential: A recent study from First Data found that 74 percent of consumers said when they redeem a gift card, they typically spend about $54 over the face value of the card – and 34 percent said having gift cards encouraged them to visit businesses they normally wouldn’t. With that in mind and with the potential for gift card purchases to increase over the coming holidays, it may help to adapt your strategy – both in how you market the cards and account for them. Assess how gift cards have worked for you in the past. Is there opportunity for you to partner with complementary businesses on shared gift cards? If you genuinely want your guests to use their gift cards now, tell them (in person, on social media, in your email newsletter and on your website) that you welcome them – and perhaps take the opportunity to ask them to remember to compensate their server well with their gratuity. Depending on how well funded your business is at the moment, you may also want to adjust to how you treat gift card sales. The Eater report mentions that Wayfare Tavern considers gift card purchases as deposits on future sales – and they don’t process the actual sale until the card is redeemed.
Lots of room for delivery to improve
Delivery has become a must for many restaurants, particularly in the past several months, but offering the service is just the beginning. According to a new survey of 2,000 consumers from First Orion, there are a wide range of delivery problems that still need to be worked out. Operators who can find a way to address even some of those problems effectively stand to benefit. The survey found that the vast majority of people have had problems when ordering restaurant delivery: More than 70 percent of people had experienced a problem that required customer service and 50 percent had a problem with late delivery. Incorrect orders, improper food temperature, driver directions and behavior, and the non-delivery of food altogether also posed problems for large percentages of respondents. Fine-tuning your performance in any or all of these areas can help. First, perfect your menu. It should be clear, simple, easy to understand and provide a space for a customer to customize or modify an order. Make your menu easy to find (an Order Here button helps) and read with minimal clicks and scrolling. Use technology to accept orders, confirm customer address and contact information, inform customer of wait time, track an order’s preparation and delivery, and direct a driver to the customer’s location. Take care with not only the quality of your packaging but also with the storage of those packages – your delivery driver shouldn’t be storing cold and hot foods side by side in the same container. Finally, set guidelines about how to best respond to customer complaints online – but if you have a solid handle on the other aspects of delivery, those (hopefully) shouldn’t happen too often.
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