Cloud kitchens – also known as ghost kitchens – have been around for a while, but with COVID-19 forcing quarantines and social distancing across the world, they’re more popular than ever.
With a traditional cloud kitchen, you rent a space to run your kitchen and only hire the staff needed to run it. These “virtual restaurants” only offer delivery services with no dine-in or pick-up options. They don’t need reception staff because customers only have the option of ordering online.
Now that so many cities around the world have shut down food service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many catering establishments are operating as cloud kitchens anyway. It’s a really good balance between social distancing and accommodating consumers’ increased need for delivery now that they can’t go out to eat and in some places even leave the house except to buy necessities. .
With the right point-of-sale technology, online ordering is actually more efficient than ever. The best systems can send orders directly to the kitchen display screen for immediate attention, no intermediary required. Many restaurants implemented this technology before the pandemic, attracted by the benefits of seamless information sharing in their restaurant in real time. Now that isolation measures are in place, this technology is even more crucial to meet the growing demand for delivery. With many restaurants wondering if they’ll even stay open all week, reducing labor costs (and human contact as well as the number of employees in one space) can dramatically boost your bottom line.
However, your menu may need a little redesigning to fit this template. Some dishes travel better than others, so you may need to create a temporary delivery-only menu (or expand the one you have) to maintain the integrity of your food and your reputation. The temporary integration of delivery pick-up areas, efficient but safe measures for placing orders with drivers, and waiting areas for drivers can all make cloud kitchens faster and more efficient. All of these protocols can be further developed (or modified, if you already have some of these systems in place) to reduce human contact and thereby reduce the spread of germs. In times like these, every gesture counts.
If you weren’t offering delivery before the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll first need to develop a method to actually deliver the food to your customers. Cloud kitchens rely on an in-house system but can also outsource to a third-party application.
Whether or not you use an app, you’ll need to hire drivers and set your own delivery rates, including how you want to handle driver tips and how much to charge as a delivery fee.
If you’re using a third-party app, the extra exposure will likely land you a ton of new customers quickly, but those platforms can take a pretty big chunk of the profit per sale. With a plethora of apps to choose from, you can shop around to see what’s best for your business.
You can also incorporate pickup options into this cloud kitchen template. For pre-existing brick-and-mortar restaurants now going digital because of the pandemic, it’s especially easy to do so. Simply designate a waiting and pick-up area for customers and let them come to you. This way you can also offer some of the dishes you can’t deliver, which can include a signature or popular meal that doesn’t travel too well, so you don’t have to cut out those options altogether.
Many restaurants had never needed it before. If you are operating from a physical location, you want to focus on food service and therefore delivery orders may be dropped, especially during peak hours.
With catering services closed in many places and social distancing the new normal across the world, now is the time to put all that energy into delivery. People still need to eat, and that might be the only thing keeping your business afloat until restrictions are lifted.
If you have closed restaurant doors and are not offering pickup, then for all intents and purposes you are now running a virtual restaurant.
True virtual restaurants, also known as ghost restaurants, often have multiple businesses operating in the same premises, which maximizes room efficiency. Many cloud kitchens also rent space to other brands to help them make a profit, although they are already saving money on rent because they don’t need floor space for them. customers in the restaurant and they do not need to rent in a privileged location; they can operate from wherever they want in their delivery area.
One of the main benefits of a virtual restaurant is that you can optimize it for consumer demand and worry less about customer alienation. Working without a physical location means greater adaptability, so you can adjust your menu according to the seasons, reduce food waste and operate at busier times.
Much of the personalized nature so essential to food service is lost in delivery since staff don’t have face-to-face time with customers; Satisfaction is entirely based on the speed and quality of the order. Other than the driver, no other cloud kitchen workers are tipped, which means that restaurants then have to pay higher salaries to their employees.
As mentioned above, third-party apps can also cause problems. They have very high fees to start with, not even accounting for cases where a customer calls a restaurant but doesn’t order anything, but the app still charges it as a sale. You’re also entrusting your food to an entirely different company, putting your brand in the hands of workers you don’t know and who may not care much about your reputation. While you still have your own delivery system in place, you’ll have to pay more for marketing if you don’t use a third-party service.
Your cloud kitchen also relies entirely on online customers, so you need to pay for visibility in order to get good reviews and positive word of mouth; there is no foot traffic to increase sales.
Food quality and safety must also be considered. If a dish isn’t as appetizing as it would be in a restaurant, for whatever reason, customers won’t buy from you again and may even post negative reviews, which, given that your business depends so heavily on positive reviews. online – can cause serious damage to your reputation from which, in some cases, you simply cannot recover.
As everyone is staying indoors to avoid spreading COVID-19, learning how to own and operate a cloud kitchen is a great way to keep your restaurant running as we all struggle to get through this difficult time and confusing. If you generate even a little activity, it can help you wait until the restoration service is operational again. You might even discover that you have a penchant for delivery and decide to go all-digital from now on!