No Drive-Thru? Here’s How to Offer Contactless Curbside Pickup

No Drive-Thru? Here’s How to Offer Contactless Curbside Pickup
Vahag Aydinyan

By Vahag Aydinyan

With the heavy impact of COVID-19 on restaurants, the industry is racing to find new ways to keep their locations open and keep revenue as high as possible for survival. Foot traffic has dropped for the majority of restaurants in North America, with revenue switching to online ordering and pickups instead. Restaurants with drive thrus have had a smaller decline in revenue compared to the ones that don’t have drive thrus. Some of them have even seen ~90% of their sales coming through drive thrus.

The restaurants that don’t have drive-thrus can organize contactless curbside pickup to increase their revenue and decrease their losses while facing government restrictions. Here are some tips on how it can be done.

1. Find a dedicated pickup spot

If you don’t have drive thru, it’s definitely difficult to serve the customers outside the restaurant. Try to find a dedicated place for customers where they can park safely and pick-up the food. Search for a location that provides the convenience of customers being able to stay in their car if possible. However, if it’s not possible, a nearby parking lot would be a good play to drop the food odd for pickup when the customer arrives.  

2. Organize contactless pickup

Firstly, you will need to figure out where to drop the food for a contactless pickup. Make sure the area has a parking lot along with a safe, secure drop-off place for food to get picked up by the customer.

Next, you should create a communication channel for the pickup. The order can be placed through the phone or online, and in both cases can notify the user through text and/or email that order is ready to pick up. The communication should be two-way for the customer to be able to confirm that they are at the pick up point and the food can be dropped.

Another easy way to track customer arrivals and traffic is to install a parking lot camera for the staff to easily track customers approaching. Customers can leave a note through text or on the phone describing the car and plates.

If your restaurant area is convenient for car parking, and it’s possible for the driver to stay in the car, your employees can easily approach the car with the open trunk and place the food in the trunk. This is the easiest way to organize a food pickup as food may not be easy to leave outside for a pickup.

3. Setup contactless payment method

Contactless pickup will require a contactless payment method flexible enough for you and convenient enough for the customer.

Here are your options:

  • A website with a payment integration to pre-pay online
  • A PayPal business account to track transactions with phone or email-assigned order numbers
  • Ask the customer to put their specific order number in the comments section of the transaction, or send them an online invoice that automatically directs towards payment
  • Confirm the order after seeing the payment on PayPal or other money transfer account through email or text
  • A tap-enabled credit or debit card to pay on-site—tap will work through windows and glass!

4. Create clear instructions and share them online

After putting together your curbside pickup plan, you will need to communicate the details with your customers to ensure they can easily order from your restaurant. This will help you to reduce the volume and calls that ask the same questions.

The easiest way to do this is to write the instructions and put it on the website or social media account. Photos of the drop-off/pickup location will be super helpful for the customers to visualize their experience. It will also help you to avoid any misunderstandings and extra calls and texts with questions.

Here are some examples that will help you to quickly create instructions.

5. Promote, promote, promote!

Put picks of your team, your restaurants, and your food up on social to promote your new contactless curbside pickup for diners. Encourage your customers to share their meals on social and tag you so you can fill your feed with people still enjoying your meals!

Instagram post from Andrew Feller of Brandywine
Post by @andrewfeller on their curbside pickup

Creating a curbside pickup plan is not only going to help you during the pandemic, but also after when customers have already developed the habit of a quick pickup—not only from big restaurants with drive thrus, but also from small ones with no resources to create a drive thru. Keeping your customers safe, happy, and fed is going to create life-long return diners, so follow these steps to offer a seamless pickup experience.

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Vahag Aydinyan
Vahag Aydinyan

Hello! I am Vahag, Content Marketing Manager at 7shifts. I am writing about content marketing, marketing trends, tips on restaurant marketing and more.