How Can Food Businesses Switch to Take-out or Home Delivery?

Learn how to adopt a new model of business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
March 25, 2020

With the threat of COVID-19 spreading globally, the Canadian government is restricting dine-in options at food businesses and enforcing take-out or home deliveries only. For some food businesses this is an easy option that allows business continuity and profit since they already offer these services.

For food businesses that do not currently offer take-out or delivery, adapting to these business models can be hard work. However, it can be a viable solution rather than shutting down completely.

Here's what you should consider when deciding whether to go with a take-out or home delivery model — or both.

Take-out

Providing takeout means that customers will be able to keep enjoying your food, despite you being closed to the public. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Less risk of spreading COVID-19 between customers and staff or vice versa
  • Customers come to the business to get their food, which means reduced costs
  • No responsibility for food safety during transit (That responsibility now lies with the customer.)
  • Adaptations can be made to ensure that customers orders are spaced out (e.g. give your customers time slots to pick up the food and don’t allow them to come and claim their food until it is their time)

Cons

  • Proper supplies are needed to successfully provide take-out (food containers, bags, etc.)
  • Strict protocols when handing off food directly to customers need to be enforced
  • Some people are afraid to leave their homes due to COVID-19 so you could be limiting the number of potential customers if you only choose to provide take-out

Home delivery

Home delivery service is a great way to show your customers you care and reduce their risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in public. Here are some pros and cons for going with a home delivery model:

Pros

  • Customers do not have to leave their home to purchase your food and are more likely to order from your food business
  • Using a delivery app opens up a wider base of customers who aren’t familiar with your food business
  • You can choose to use your own delivery drivers which means you have greater control over the sanitation of the driver, delivery vehicle and the equipment used to transport the food
  • Existing staff can be transitioned to conduct the deliveries

Cons

  • Time needs to be spent ensuring that you have the proper supplies to provide deliveries (food containers, sealable bags, etc.)
  • Using a delivery app often comes at a cost with many apps charging around 30% of the total bill (Some apps are waving fees due to COVID-19 so be sure to investigate your options and make an informed choice.)
  • Choosing to hire a new employee to conduct the deliveries can be challenging during the pandemic
  • Organizing the setup of how the deliveries will be conducted can be challenging
  • Strict protocols need to be adopted strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when delivering the food to a customer.

Other facts to consider

There are other things you need to consider when choosing to go with a take-out or home delivery model, or both. Once the choice has been made, you need to consider how you will implement these models and what your supply and demand will look like. Remember that ensuring food safety is still the number one priority in these models. You must determine how you will make sure your food continues to be safe for consumption. Training your staff on these new models as well as how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic will also be critical to your success.