According to marketing research company NPD Group, digital and delivery orders jumped over 60% since the March 2020 lockdown. Full-service restaurants had a 31% increase in pick-up and delivery, and the average check amount for takeout and delivery jumped 15%. Consumers are not willing to give up on the convenience and experience a restaurant meal brings to them and their families, regardless of the barriers they face.
GoTab was launched in 2016 and is the only QR-based contactless ordering and payment platform with native features for opening a digital tab, sharing and splitting the tab and tips, and keeping the tab open until it’s time to settle. This unique tab system helps reduce transaction fees for both the guests and the operators. Starting a tab only takes a few seconds, by capturing the QR code placed on the table. Servers can also start and add to a tab, and seamlessly pass it off to guests. Both servers and guests can add to the digital check simultaneously.
Today, GoTab serves countless hospitality operators in 35+ states. Originally incubated at the founder’s own brewery, Caboose Brewing Company in Fairfax, VA, GoTab is now used at some of the top breweries in the country, including at multiple Stone Brewing locations and Ballast Point venues in California.
One of the breweries GoTab helped early on in March 2020 is Institution Ale Co., based in Camarillo, CA. Institution Ale has an on-site tasting room as well as service bars and restaurants throughout Ventura County. Prior to COVID, Institution Ale had a small takeout business with a limited menu consisting of a few “to-go” packs that were sold to a small number of repeat buyers. To support that channel, they had signed up for GoTab in 2019 to streamline the order process. GoTab’s virtual deployment (software only) was the perfect option for basic online ordering: with a cheap tablet device and cellular service, they could manage their GoTab orders without any special software. GoTab’s virtual deployment also gave them a branded digital menu that links to their website. When the pandemic started, Institution Ale recognized they could use GoTab to help them access a critical untapped revenue opportunity.
Some of the practices implemented to successfully set up Institution Ale with full takeout and delivery capabilities can help other breweries as they consider switching their service model to adjust to local lockdown orders:
- Keep set up costs low and activation times as short as possible:
As breweries carefully consider current and future cash-flow decisions, they can select best-of-breed technology that requires minimal setup and no hardware installation. For instance, the GoTab system requires minimal setup and a nominal per-transaction cost for operators. A full cloud-based system, it requires no investment in new, expensive hardware, no software or support costs and works seamlessly for takeout and delivery service, providing the same ease and convenience as in-venue dining. Between now and the end of the year, GoTab is offering free activations and guaranteeing a 24-hour setup for digital-only deployments for seamless curbside pickup/takeout and delivery capabilities. A word of advice: educate yourself on transaction processing fees and the difference between card present fees and card not present fees when evaluating alternatives.
- Prioritize the order process on your website:
As many customers look to order directly from breweries, it is important to redirect the user flow on your site to your online ordering path. You can also add some simple communication on your website to point customers in the right direction. Since some customers are still getting used to online ordering, make sure you include simple instructions. Data shows that return users are nearly always successful when placing subsequent orders. Make sure you embed your menu in your restaurant’s website, and share it via email promotions, and social media updates.
- Make your menu(s) enticing with rich imagery and multimedia:
Because you can customize your contactless menu with engaging imagery, you can get beyond simply displaying your menu to actually selling it. With a user-friendly menu design complemented by high-quality photography, you can make the menu browsing experience both informative and enjoyable. And you’re not just limited to photography. Savvy breweries are incorporating video into their contactless menus to make the browsing experience more immersive and engaging. GoTab allows operators to create specialized menus, highlighting the food and beverage items they are pushing to sell, whether they’re best-sellers or Chef’s specials. GoTab also gives operators the ability to have private menus, only available to pre-determined customer groups, and you can set times and dates when customers can have access to them. Finally, try to create discounts and special offers to promote the building of food, wine & spirits orders.
- Plan for virtual help and real-time feedback:
Contactless ordering and payment platforms will make it easier for your guests to communicate with you. Make sure your staff are prepared to respond to in-bound texts and emails and have a process in place to address ones that can’t be answered in real-time. Also, be prepared to receive direct feedback on the experience, both the good and the bad. The best hospitality operators constantly obsess over the guest experience. Contactless ordering and payment will give you the opportunity to get more feedback on a more timely basis. This is valuable information that, if acted upon, can make a real difference in guest satisfaction and important factors like willingness to recommend and repeat orders.
- Set up in-source delivery operations to retain more profit:
With self-delivery, operators can be in full control of their drivers and delivery orders. This is the best way to avoid third-party delivery costs, which can eat into your profit. Make sure you have the ability to throttle your orders so you can properly manage the number of orders your staff is handling, preventing delays in deliveries and unhappy customers. You can also optimize your delivery routes to ensure efficient delivery operations from your team of drivers. GoTab allows you to do that, as well as order throttling to avoid order backlogs in the kitchen, organize and fulfill orders efficiently. Native GoTab features also include: geofencing of delivery areas and delivery address verification through Google Maps API, support for unlimited delivery addresses on customer profiles, route optimization for drivers by time or distance, and printed packing slip generator. GoTab also delivers a messaging interface for drivers to contact customers on their delivery route. The latest integration with Postmates and soon DoorDash provides flexibility to breweries who want to satisfy customer demand for food delivery without taking on the financial costs of first-party ordering. When GoTab deployed takeout/curbside pickup and delivery capabilities to Institution Ale, their order volume increased from several orders a week to over 50-60% of the brewery’s total revenue. They went from previously having a very small takeout/delivery option, to redirecting their entire staff to the new operating model to continue operations.
- Make everything easy for your staff and your customers
Convenience and safety remain key priorities for customers. Give them the ability to book their preferred pickup date and time and receive customized pickup instructions. If plans change, guests can easily adjust their curbside pickup time and location. For lunch or catering orders, give customers the ability to place group orders. If you use GoTab, our system will automatically detect and group the orders, and expedite them at the correct time. Scheduled pickup orders are managed automatically in the GoTab KDS and alert staff when an order is nearing its designated pickup time.
- Get cozy with your data:
As you monitor your restaurant or brewery’s performance, you should be able to have a holistic view of customer and sales information. Consider monitoring metrics such as:
- Sales Per Hour
- Top Selling Items & High Margin F&B Items (Greatest Hits & Platinum Margins)
- Product Mix (PMIX)
- Customer Feedback
- Ordering and reordering patterns
Savvy breweries are gaining greater insight and control of their end-to-end customer experience using metrics like these to manage their operations, improve their customer experience and increase their profitability.