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A Fresh Take on Takeout

Expert tips for breaking into this growing market

An increasing number of restaurants are turning to takeout and delivery, whether it’s to create a new revenue stream or to keep up with consumers’ changing habits. In fact, according to Technomic, 44 percent of sales for all restaurants now come from off-premise dining. Many third-party delivery services take a significant bite out of your profit margins, however, and there are risks to inconveniencing on-premise diners with a rush of takeout customers.

Texas Honey Ham Company is a bustling counter-service operation in West Lake Hills, Texas, outside Austin. Co-owner Trent Hunt compares the controlled chaos inside to a Wall Street trading floor: “We like that frenetic feel, but it’s quick and organized.” Here’s how experts like Hunt bring order to a successful takeout business, while still taking care of diners in-house.

Online Ordering is Key

Make sure diners can consult a menu and order through your restaurant’s website. List your number for call-in orders prominently on your homepage. Texas Honey Ham Company used a trusted third-party service to set up its online ordering service.

Don’t Neglect On-Premise Diners

Texas Honey Ham Company has figured out the right balance for on- and off-premise dining. Separate lines form for either placing or picking up to-go orders, while tables are filled with diners enjoying breakfast tacos and sandwiches. “You have to train your people to explain the system to diners when they come in,” Hunt says. Think ahead about how on-premise diners will be affected by the flow of people lining up for takeout orders. “It takes quite a bit of logistical planning.”

Keep the Menu Simple

In general, a limited menu can make managing takeout and delivery easier, and combo plates ensure patrons on the go don’t miss out on sides and appetizers.

Outsource Delivery

“We’ve looked into doing delivery ourselves, but the cost is pretty prohibitive,” Hunt says. Yet third-party delivery services can charge up to 30 percent in fees. “That’s why we only accept orders through services that don’t take a cut from restaurants,” he says.

44% of restaurants sales come from off-premise dining.


Find Packaging that Works

Use packaging that will preserve a food’s temperature and freshness and that will travel well. “We used to wrap our sandwiches in butcher paper, but we switched a few years ago to stackable containers,” Hunt says. “It’s going to constantly evolve,” adds Hunt. “Anytime we’ve got a problem, whether it’s about finding better packaging or reviewing inventory, our Sysco Sales Consultant is all over it. They always find a solution.”

Ask about how Sysco’s Business Resources can help you set up a successful takeout and delivery program.