Handling large takeout orders

30Sep10

For most people, takeout food is synonymous with a low-hassle, carefree dining experience. In short, you place an order, pick it up or wait for someone to deliver it, and then receive a bag with all the food, utensils and other items that you need. When you’re done eating, you can just toss the food containers and other disposable items back into the same bag, making cleanup a snap.

However, some restaurants are oblivious to the reasons why people order takeout. They forget much-needed items, turning what should be a turnkey meal into a frantic hunt for replacement parts. This is especially problematic for large orders, in which the search for utensils and other items is multiplied by the number of people that you’re trying to feed.

To avoid these problems, restaurants should follow a few simple guidelines when preparing large takeout orders (i.e. those orders containing three or more items):

– Label each container with a description of the food inside.

– Include an ample supply of plates, cups and utensils. For example, you might provide one full set for each entree or sandwich, plus a few extra sets for good measure.

– Don’t forget the condiments and sauces, and always include something to put them in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ordered sushi and found that the amount of soy sauce was woefully inadequate, or that there were no containers included to actually dispense the sauce into.

In total, these improvements should only add a few cents to the cost of each takeout order, plus a few extra seconds of prep time. If you couple the enhanced process with a checklist that helps employees remember what goes in each bag, you should be able to get compliance into the 95% range without too much trouble.

Given how many restaurants continue to botch their takeout orders by leaving out the items I described, those who take the time to do it right will quickly establish a positive reputation with customers. This leads to larger order sizes, more repeat business, and an influx of new takeout customers via word of mouth referrals. Compared to the small amount of time and money invested, the impact on the bottom line should be substantial.



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