Host Barbara Castiglia welcomed TJ Schier, a veteran restaurant operator, and consultant, to discuss the change. Shier is the author of four books, has been an in-demand trainer for restaurants, and is a Which Wich franchisee.
At the start of 2020, Schier wasn’t focused on off-premise. He was working on a book about generating more catering dollars, something he’s had success with at his restaurant. Then the pandemic hit, requiring a pivot. “Catering orders declined, but it flipped the switch to off-premise with curbside, pickup, drive-thru,” he said.
He then began to make changes in his own restaurant while studying those in the industry that were doing well. “You need the basic things, online ordering and being on third-party delivery apps. You need QR codes for touchless ordering, and you’ll have to answer the phone. Make it as easy as possible for the guest to order,” Schier shared.
Schier also recommended using software to support and automate some practices, as it’s cost-effective for independents and small franchises. “Brands also need to communicate their safety and sanitation practices to instill trust.”
Overall, it’s about redefining the guest experience. They want less interaction, accuracy, high food quality, and the food ready on time.
Schier also noted that starting with third-party apps is necessary but then incentivize customers to order directly with promotions inserted into the bag.
How can operators know how they are doing? “The food is eaten away from the restaurant, so to know how we did, I use surveys for drive-thru and online ordering. Then I can respond to this immediately,” he said.