making dough with Diane

Seven ideas to boost your takeout sales
Diane Chiasson
May 24, 2010
By
As a pizzeria operator, takeout is the basis of your operation, or at least a huge part of your restaurant’s revenue stream. But are you using your takeout operation to its maximum selling potential?

Today’s fast-paced lifestyle has pushed the home meal solution market to way beyond ordering pizza on a Friday night. We have seen the emergence of a whole new line of fresh and healthy foods that are ready-to-eat in our grocery stores, convenience stores, high-end specialty food shops and even restaurants. Essentially, these ready-to-eat items are your biggest competitors! Here are seven great ways to improve your takeout operation and make your pizza the top home meal solution for busy people.

1. Serve healthy and interesting side dishes
Pizza is filling and serves as the main event in a meal. However, many people struggle with what to serve alongside a pizza. Most pizza operators probably already offer the usual sides like garden, Greek or Caesar salads, chicken wings and garlic bread or breadsticks. Today’s health-conscious eaters may be looking for something more nutritious to alleviate the guilt of eating a pizza in the first place. Set up a beautiful antipasto bar with grilled vegetables, seafood, olives, cured meats and cheeses.You probably already have most of the ingredients for an antipasto bar on hand for your pizza toppings. Customers can grab a take-out container and serve themselves. For delivery or drive-thru customers, offer an antipasto variety plate. Try more unique and healthful salads that customers would like to buy even if they don’t want any pizza, like salads made of special grains like quinoa or bulgur, bean salads, lentil salads or whole-grain pasta salads. You could also serve sides of vegetables like sautéed rapini in garlic, braised kale or roasted sweet potatoes. Homemade soup is another great option.

2. Sell refrigerated or frozen items
Customers visit your operation for pizza to serve for dinner that night but why not try to sell them their dinner for the next night as well? Sell your pizza (or pizza dough and sauce) pre-baked or frozen, and other items like soup, shredded cheese or toppings. Make mini panzerottis or pizzas that parents can bake for their kids to take to school for lunch. Sell frozen desserts like pie and cheesecake.
 
3. Offer curbside pickup, online ordering or a mobile phone app
Make life easier for your customers by setting up a separate line for take-out and reserved parking spots near the front door for takeout patrons. Create applications for mobile phones and an area on your website where vvcustomers can order their meals online. Set a time for pickup so customers do not need to wait. If you have the space and means for it, consider setting up a curbside pickup or drive-thru window so customers who are in a hurry do not even have to get out of the car.

4. Advertise nutritional data
A recent home meal solution survey showed that healthy food options were the biggest concern for consumers. Consider setting up a kiosk or information area in your operation where customers can check the nutritional data for each of your menu items. They will feel a lot better about what they bring home to their families for dinner if they see some fresh and healthy ingredients in their meals and will be more likely to return for more.

5. Use proper and adequate packaging
One of the key factors of home meal solutions is the fact that they offer busy consumers little or no preparation work. This means as few dishes as possible and minimal cleanup. The need for proper and adequate packaging for your takeout food is crucial. Sell all your side dishes in microwave and dishwasher-safe containers that seal properly and will keep food hot for a longer period of time. Your packaging needs to be designed to ensure that the takeout food is of the same quality your customers get when they dine in your restaurant. Also, make sure that your containers are durable enough so that your customers can easily take leftovers to work the next day without having to transfer food from one container to another.

6. Brand all your containers
Make sure that all your takeout containers are branded with your name and logo. Use your packaging to market your brand and image. You want your customers to think of you every time they open the fridge and see your takeout container inside. If your customers take your food for lunch the next day, all their colleagues will see your takeout containers in the office fridge. Your branded containers will act as free advertising for you!

7. Offer multiple portion sizes
Do not limit what you offer for takeout to what you offer in your restaurant. Consider selling your pizza and side dishes in single servings and family-sized portions. You could also offer a snack-sized portion for customers looking for a grab-and-go meal.

Use these seven tips to maximize your takeout revenue and deliver what today’s customers are looking for.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for more than 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.

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