Man eating fast food

We can all agree that 2020 was a chaotic year. It showed who we are, what we want, and the things we really care about. Consumers suddenly found themselves stuck at home, aching for a taste of the outside world. Many took up hobbies, including cooking. And a considerable majority ended up relying on take-out and delivery to keep themselves fed.

What 2020 taught us is the importance of restaurant convenience for customers. As more people turned to digital ordering, restaurants had to adapt, many quickly pivoting to offer drive-up pick-up, while others jumped on the third-party delivery bandwagon.

As we move away from the wild ride of 2020, what is the state of convenience in the restaurant industry? Will many restaurants keep up with their newly convenient operating methods? Will customers continue to demand the convenience they had a taste of in 2020?

Why Restaurant Convenience Is Important

When asking the question of why convenience is important, the overarching answer is that customers want it. In the service industry, the key to making money is running your business in a way that jives with the customers’ expectations and desires.

Think about everything your customer has to deal with daily. From work to childcare to commuting, their time is limited. They don’t want to have to work harder to feed their family. That’s why they turn to the convenience of a restaurant for their meals. They look at the trade-off between time and money. The money to order something from a restaurant is worth the money.

Many customers might turn to a restaurant for their dinner because it’s still convenient and healthier than frozen meals. Rather than buying something processed and pre-made, they want something hot and fresh.

The statistics about those who spend their food budget at restaurants give a fascinating insight into why you want to target these customers. Households who spend more on full-service restaurant meals tend to fall in the following demographics:

Family eating at a restaurant
  • Employed
  • Married
  • High education levels
  • Higher incomes

Because the customers who are most likely to order their dinner from a restaurant have these characteristics, you are more likely to have a more consistent revenue if they have a great experience ordering from your restaurant. By improving the convenience of your restaurant, you can attract those with higher incomes and hopefully find yourself a devoted, regular customer.

Convenience doesn’t mean you have to use a third-party delivery partner either. 70% of consumers prefer to order directly from the restaurant of their choosing rather than a third-party site. For one, customers don’t want to pay additional commission and service fees to get their food.

This avoidance of third-party sites is good for you. It’s estimated that about 68% of food professionals pay for the third-party sites’ commission fees. Of those, 25% spend more than 20% on each order. Additionally, the third-party sites don’t share your customer data with you, meaning you lose valuable insight into your customer base.

How Customers Choose Restaurants

A significant benefit of improving your restaurant convenience for customers is that they will be more willing to buy food from you versus a competitor. Customers are particular about the restaurants they choose, and there are several reasons they might choose one restaurant over another.

Online Reviews

Before the order, a customer will look at online reviews. Approximately 85% of customers won’t patronize a business with negative online reviews. On the flip side, improving your rating by even one star can increase your revenue by 5% to 9%.

Take a moment to look at your online reviews. What feedback are you getting? What are you doing well? How can you improve your rating?

Chain Restaurant vs Local

A recent development in the last couple of years is the decline of customer patronage to chain restaurants. Instead, many customers are opting for local businesses. This is favourable for smaller, local restaurants. Capitalize on this with targeted local ads and marketing.

Delivery

Man delivering pizza

As we’ve learned, whether a restaurant offers delivery can significantly impact a customer’s choice of restaurant. Again, they don’t want to add another chore to their day. However, there’s a problem with those third-party delivery sites: commission rates.

While it’s not much to the customer, the amount of commission you pay as a restaurant can seriously impact your revenue. Take a look at these popular third-party sites’ commission rates:

These commission fees add up, eating into your revenue and costing you money. By adding delivery directly from the restaurant as many customers want, you can avoid those commission fees and pocket the money.

Making Your Restaurant More Convenient

There are many ways to improve your restaurant convenience for customers. First, by optimizing your customers’ digital experience. If the ordering process is complex, the customer will give up. Making it an easy-to-use online application is the first step to creating a convenient experience for your customers.

Offer drive-up pick-up. Consider dedicating a couple of parking spots to drive-up customers. Leave your number and bring the food out to them. It reduces the number of steps your customer has to take to get their food, and they’ll appreciate the quality service.
Finally, invest in delivery directly from your restaurant. It’s what the customer wants, and it will save you money in the long run. As you turn your focus to making your customer’s experience easy and fast, you’ll find your online reviews improving, your customer base growing, and your revenue skyrocketing.