Quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) have always been among the first in the restaurant industry to suffer from the effects of disruption, whether that’s the weather or a pandemic. And they’ve also been among the first to consider store remodels and offering contactless food delivery through third-party services. As reported by National Restaurant News, "43% of consumers said drive-thru is the most preferred method for ordering restaurant food during the pandemic. Takeout and curbside pickup are preferred by 33%." These statistics reveal most people realize that the traditional way of getting QSR foods has changed. And customers are looking to restaurants to adapt and make changes that make it safer and more accessible for them to continue supporting their favorite QSRs. In the space of contactless food delivery, this includes minimizing contact between drivers and restaurant staff. But first, let’s take a look at what’s happening and why.
Why Contactless Food Delivery Tactics Are Evolving
When dealing with a social crisis, such as the current pandemic, facilities management for QSRs becomes an essential aspect that restaurants need to consider. Grab-and-go QSRs show the rest of us how to do it and that their unique service offers have been a critical difference-maker for restaurants reopening after the worst of COVID-19. Those in charge of facilities management for QSRs are tasked with finding the most effective and meaningful way to adapt to the customer base’s changing wants and demands. This has given rise to a whole new way of looking at delivery, to-go, carrying out, general ordering through a contactless food delivery, or hand-off between the QSR and the driver, customer, or another party.
Contactless Food Delivery Tactics Require Rethinking Maintenance Plans
Reducing face-to-face contact, lowering exposure to aerosolized droplets, avoiding hand-to-hand contact, and minimizing time where exposure may occur are all key to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Those in charge of facilities management for QSRs need to consider a shift regarding what gets done when. Activities typically left to anyone at any time must now occur during vacancy hours. For example, cleaning, repairs, and significant restocking may need to be postponed to a time where staff-customer interactions are minimal.
Sanitation practices, cleaning routines, and staffing concerns for maintenance and regular activities are also points that need to be careful considered in contactless facilities management for QSRs. The frequency that tables, counters, trays, kiosks, doors, handles, chairs, and other high-touch items are cleaned will need to be drastically increased. It may be necessary to have staff members whose sole duty during operating hours is to ensure everything stays clean and sanitized as much as possible.
Staying on top of good sanitation practices during a pandemic may indeed require the creation of entirely new job titles for many QSRs for the foreseeable future. Just as employees had to be trained at some point to use tools and technology, learning new practices and procedures, it's time to focus on contactless impacts. The time has come where a focus on sanitation, safe food handling, social distancing, and general hygiene needs to be kept first and foremost.
It may also be worth renovating the interior space for some brands to create a permanently socially distanced dining room or eliminating in-facility dining.
Contactless Food Delivery Options Further Include Curbside Pickup and More
Many of the steps taken for facilities management for QSRs today revolve around a new approach to the drive-thru and curbside pickups. There are semi-automated methods in place already at places where customer text their parking space number and order number, so someone can bring it out to them. Yes, this is still a form of contactless food delivery. But it can add further value by merely looking at the parking spots as a pickup area for delivery service drivers too. A simple step to improve automation could cut down on time and allow more customers to be served. Other points to consider include having employee-specific entries separate from customers to minimize exposure and contact through congested doorways.
Future-Proof the Restaurant With Contactless Facilities Management Strategy
During the COVID-19 crisis, offering takeout and curbside services for customers went from a revolutionary idea to a must-have option almost overnight. There are many more things that need addressing to keep employees and customers safe. Again, that’s why having an expert in your corner is key to success. It has become the means of survival for many restaurants, and when it comes to facilities management for QSRs, this is one key area that will go a long way in determining who survives this disruption. Submit your questions online to learn more about how your facility can embrace the contactless future.