Dunkin_Pre_GO_2018_c.jpg Dunkin’ Donuts
Newer Dunkin’ Donuts stores will feature a clearly marked pickup area for customers who placed orders through the chain’s app.

Is your restaurant ready for a to-go world?

Customers want more takeout and delivery, so restaurants just need to add more takeout and delivery. Simple, right?

Not so much. The rise of order ahead, third-party delivery partnerships and in-house delivery is starting to literally reshape restaurants. The industry often focuses on technology challenges and integration into the point-of-sale system and loyalty programs and apps. But these changes are also forcing other changes.

Technology needs to work within the physical space of the restaurant. We can’t make hamburgers virtually, after all.

Order ahead is a great convenience for customers, yet those guests aren’t going to want to wait in line to check out. Partial convenience isn’t going to fly. It needs to be end-to-end easy.

At the same time, you don’t want your dine-in customers to feel shafted by order-ahead line cutters, either.

Evolution can be difficult.

And for many chains, there are new folks in the mix with third-party delivery partners. These couriers are new customers and new employees at the same time.

Moe’s Southwest Grill is considering convenience for those couriers in its upcoming new design, president Bruce Schroder said.

You don’t want grabbing orders from your stores to be a headache. On top of wanting your restaurants to be a favored destination of third-party delivery, food is ultimately being delivered to your guests, who will want their food hot and fast.

NRN senior editor Ron Ruggless recently looked at the ways restaurants are adapting their store designs to make our new To Go World as smooth as possible for employees, guests and third-party partners.

Operators are balancing tactical necessities like delivery-only entrances and dedicated pickup areas, with keeping the restaurant comfortable for dine-in customers. As restaurants add new revenue streams with takeout, the business gets more complicated.

If the delivery and takeout business continues to grow — already at 1.7 billion annual visits right now, according to NPD — small problems with logistics will balloon quickly. With more dining options, customers will likely get less patient with takeout hiccups.

Pay attention to the lessons that these chains have to offer, and look for new ways to keep your restaurant design efficient. And if delivery is still on your wish list, it’s never too early to plan ahead.

Contact Jenna Telesca at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @JennaTelesca

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