Curbside pick-up is becoming an increasingly popular option to drive business growth.

The concept is simple: a customer calls in an order, drives to the restaurant, parks outside and a runner brings the food to the car. 

Customers like it because they don’t have to get out of the car, and restaurants like it because it increases sales without adding seating capacity or raising prices. According to the National Restaurant Association's 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 46 percent of all customers – and more than half of frequent off-premises dinner customers and frequent quickservice customers – say they would use curbside options at tableservice restaurants.

If you’re considering starting a curbside pick-up service, or you have one in place, follow these best practices for curbside success:

1. Plan for efficiency at your location. Reserve a few parking spaces near your front door for curbside pick-up only. That ensures your customers have convenient places to park and that your staff can easily find them. It also advertises your curbside service as customers walk in. The parking spots should be near a window and easily accessible to your designated pickup station.  If you can’t allocate spaces close by, consider installing a security camera in the parking lot and a monitor at the curbside station so your staff knows when customers arrive.

2. Carefully structure your staffing.  As with dine-in, service is key to generating repeat curbside business.  If you have a host stand, you might able to leverage that staff to run the food out if it won’t negatively affect your dine-in guests. It’s best to dedicate staff to take orders, watch for arrivals and deliver food to cars. Train employees to note the make, model and color of customers’ cars when taking orders so curbside staff can identify them when they arrive.

3. Select appropriate packaging. It’s worth spending a little extra on quality carryout containers to make sure hot foods stay hot, cold foods stay cold, and liquids stay in containers. It helps preserve the guest experience all the way home. Containers also offer valuable advertising space, and a small investment in printing can extend your brand recognition beyond your parking lot.

4. Ensure pickup is quick and efficient. It’s imperative to minimize trips back into the restaurant, so make sure your curbside staff carries cash to make change. They should be able to take credit card payments at the car by using a secure, wireless credit card terminal or a mobile payment app on a smart phone or tablet.

Content provided by Heartland Payment Systems.