Best Practices for Curbside Pickup


May 6, 2020

In response to COVID-19, 59% of restaurants have adopted curbside pickup. It’s a cost-effective strategy that’s also easy to implement, especially for operations that don’t have the infrastructure to offer delivery. Curbside pickup can drive traffic without incurring additional expenses like partnering with third-party services, making it a valuable way to reach off-premise diners. It also provides comfort to diners, because they can stay in their own cars at a safe distance from others.

Check out these tips to make your curbside service a success:

  • Promote it. It’s important that customers are aware your operation is offering this option. Advertise across social media platforms and send out announcements through email.
  • Give some space. Allot several parking spaces close to the restaurant’s front door and reserve them strictly for curbside pickup. That way, customers have somewhere to park and staff can easily spot them. Ideally, this area is near a window and within view of the pickup station. If not, consider installing a camera in the lot and a monitor at the station to alert staff when customers arrive.
  • Prepare staff. Have employees ask for the make, model and color of diners’ cars when taking orders so that staff can readily identify customers when they arrive. Additional staff members should be positioned at the curb, especially during peak periods.
  • Communicate. Include clear signage indicating where customers should park and how to alert staff when they’ve reached the restaurant. Some operators request patrons to honk their horns, while others prefer that they call or text.
  • Simplify payment. To improve efficiency, ask customers to pay by credit card over the phone. Other options are having a wireless credit card terminal available or a mobile payment app on a smart phone or tablet. Avoid payment that requires a pen signature. If handling cash, make sure staff carries change in order to avoid running back and forth.

Curbside pickup is a budget-friendly alternative to delivery. It also provides customers with much-wanted convenience, from receiving their orders without leaving their cars to minimizing wait times. Given its many benefits, this service will likely stick around in many restaurants moving forward.

Does your operation offer curbside pickup? Let us know your experiences on Facebook or LinkedIn. To pick up other foodservice pointers, check out our Tips page.

 
SOURCES

4 steps to successful curbside pick-up, National Restaurant Association, January 2014.

COVID-19 Report 8: The Operator Story, Datassential, April 2020.

Pivoting to off-premises, National Restaurant Association, March 2020.

Rugless, Ron. Investor town hall yields tips from best curbside practices to cost-cutting actions, Nation’s Restaurant News, March 2020.