I had a friend who offered free advice. On the subject of budgeting money, she had this to say. "Russ and I have a very strict grocery budget, and when that money is gone, we eat out." Fortunately for restauraeurs, more and more Americans share her philosophy.
Takeout has taken off. According to the NRA, in the last two years nearly 6 out of 10 full service restaurants reported that takeout has become a larger portion of their overall sales. This encompasses the full spectrum of concepts with average checks from under $9 to over $25. And while 76% of meals are still eaten at home, nearly half of the adults surveyed said they spend too much time preparing these meals.
Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD Group Consulting Services says, "The restaurant on the corner of Fifth and Elm is, in fact, the fastest growing kitchen appliance in America." The ability for restaurants to provide high quality, convenient meals to consumers who want to eat at home will feed the trends and the bottom line.
The challenge is to design, execute, and market a takeout and/or delivery program that is consistent with your brand and doesn't compromise your quality and reputation. While convenience is the driver in this growing trend, cost is also a factor. A meal consumed in a restaurant has added costs. Beverage mark-ups, a gratuity, and possibly the extra expenses of parking and a babysitter can add significantly to the price of an evening.
As this hybrid segment grows, eating in a restaurant takes on the significance of a special event. Curbside takeaway and/or delivery can be a cost effective way to meet the need to eat, if it's positioned properly.
To stay profitable, you'll want to look at the dine-in vs. dine-out issue as a necessity not an option. There are many factors to consider. Our Guidelines for Take-Away will give you direction. If your program is carefully designed and executed, you'll be the restaurant of choice when your customers decide curb their appetite!