Creative Marketing to Stimulate Curbside Pick-Up


Restaurants and foodservice establishments that want to increase their takeout or curbside pick up revenue have to research new strategies to stimulate non-dining room orders.  Did you know that your profitability per order increases when it is takeout, delivery, or curbside pick-up?  That is part of the reason why the foodservice sector has seen so many successful ghost kitchens emerge in urban areas.  No dining room means lower manpower and overall operational costs and a higher profit margin.

  1. Create a Dedicated Take Out Area to Expedite In-Out Customer Traffic

Intelligent foot traffic design should be your top priority.  Put yourself in the shoes of your takeout customer.  They have called ahead and placed their order, and they have found a parking spot convenient enough to run into your establishment, process payment (if they haven’t done so already) and then leave with their food.

Now imagine that the dining room seating line or reception area is crowded with people waiting for a table.  And that crowd just happens to be standing in the exact same area as pick up orders are processed (at the cash register/reception desk).  So now, your takeout order isn’t so convenient, and it involves a waiting time that is comparable to the time they would have spent being seated to dine inside the restaurant.  That doesn’t work for customers in a rush.

Many restaurants have chosen to reconfigure their layout to provide an express pick up window or line for their takeout customers.  Not only is this express line fast, but you want to make sure you have experienced staff serving customers there, to double-check orders, deal with missing items or any other service issues promptly (without holding up the takeout processing time).

For restaurants that are smaller in terms of square footage and floor space, having a portable heated food warmer and storage cart is valuable.  If orders are clearly marked, the cart with prepared takeout meals can be situated near the front door, where your staff can quickly retrieve and then process the orders for your customers.

  1. Provide Alternative Payment Options

Customers that want to call ahead for a takeout order want prompt and easy service.  If they wanted to spend a great deal of time in the restaurant, they would opt to eat in the dining room instead.   It is important to offer the kind of expedited alternative payment options that your customers want.

Some customers prefer PayPal because they don’t use a traditional bank and can make a digital transaction easily from their smartphone.  Some may use other popular mobile payment methods like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay (which are becoming increasingly more popular due to low transaction fees compared to traditional debit cards).

Many consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to the cost of digital monetary transactions.  A dollar or two every time they use their debit card definitely starts to add up on a monthly basis, if they prefer to use a card versus cash.  Give them another affordable and fast processing alternative to pay for their order conveniently, and you’ll find those takeout or curbside pick-up customers returning more often.

  1. Time Your Orders Perfectly to Keep Food Fresh and Hot

All it takes is one bad experience with takeout to ensure that the customer will never order curbside pick up or takeout from your establishment again.   The top complaint from consumers about takeout is the temperature of the food.  When the customer picks up the order, it should be as fresh as it would be if it was served tableside to the diner.

While meats and vegetables tend to retain heat well, other types of food such as bread and salads can suffer some integrity loss, if they are prepared too quickly or queued in heated storage.  A warm salad is probably not the side dish that most customers would like with their meal, nor do they want soggy appetizers or entrees.

There are a variety of food scheduling tools, computer displays, and applications that can help prep teams ensure that they are timing the production of orders correctly to optimize quality and customer satisfaction at the time of pick up.  No one wins if a customer cancels an order.

  1. Dedicate Two Parking Spaces for Curbside Pick-Up Convenience

If you have a dining room and parking lot, it may be time to designate a couple spots by the front door to facilitate quick curbside pick-up for your customers.   How much of a difference can these designated spots make for a restaurant?

Consider your customer experience if they have to drive around for several minutes before they can find a parking spot, allowing them to run in and pick up their food order.  Not particularly convenient right?  And if they are in a rush, the whole benefit of calling ahead to promptly pick up food and head home may be lost.

While legal requirements for designated spots for special needs customers near the building must be accommodated, sometimes finding 1-2 extra parking spaces for food pick up orders can be a challenge.  But protecting that valuable space for pick up orders can be one of the best investments you make to bolster your restaurant takeout revenue.


Other successful marketing tactics target increased takeout or curbside food pick up orders on non-peak times and days of the week.  For example, if your restaurant has slower than normal traffic on Monday and Tuesday evenings, that is the perfect time to add a loyalty incentive for your customers.  Something like a free appetizer with every order over a specified dollar value, which is valid for takeout orders only.  Some restaurants have even developed their own loyalty app, that tracks the number of takeout orders the customer receives, and then rewards them with a discount, or a coupon for a free beverage or dessert.

Restaurant owners that consider their takeout or curbside pick up to be a unique and almost separate revenue source, are able to optimize that workflow that is required to have a successful order, production, and pick up methodology.  It’s a science; but if you are able to figure it out and master it, the result is increased profitability and sales for your restaurant.   And positive word of mouth (WOM) advertising from happy takeout customers.