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How to carry out your restaurant’s curbside service for greater success

Published April 10, 2020

As a restaurant operator, you’ve likely implemented curbside operations to facilitate takeout orders. Introducing a new mode of operating “on the fly” is hard—especially if you’ve been learning as you go. That's why we’ve collected a few best practices we’ve seen restaurant brands “carrying out” globally to make curbside operations successful:


1. Provide clear customer communication

Even if you’ve gone curbside, your customers might not know you’re offering this service. Update your business listings, website, app and emails to tell your community you’re still open and how to order. Don’t forget to frequently post to your local community social platforms such as Facebook, Nextdoor, WhatsApp, Weibo and Reddit to drive awareness of your curbside service and highlight specials.

Download our free digital marketing toolkit to help you more easily promote your curbside service.

2. Offer contactless payments

Right now, consumers are hyper-aware of person-to-person interactions and could feel uneasy if you aren’t offering extra precautions to safeguard against exposure to the coronavirus - this extends to payments, too. Consider offering contactless payment options - either with curbside payment devices or an online ordering platform - to give the customer control of their card.  

If your employees do have to take a card from a customer, make sure they wear gloves, ask if the guest want to use their own pen to sign the receipt, discard the gloves afterward and practice proper handwashing. If you're currently discouraging cash payments, proactively communicate that before guests pick up their order. Read more: Learn how Fresco’s restaurant continued serving guests when dining rooms closed through a new online ordering system that allowed for 100% off-premise orders.


3. Extend your ordering capabilities

Even if the internet is your primary ordering channel, you may find you need your point-of-sale to be “closer to the action” to drive more efficiency—and more orders—in your curbside operations. Although your POS was originally implemented with your dining room flow in mind, you may still be able to use it outside at your curbside location to take orders there in addition to your online or phone orders. You can either use your existing tablet POS or move your fixed POS terminal if it makes sense.


4. Drive efficiency at the curb

Clearly show guests where to park when picking up their order, whether that’s assigning numbers to parking spots or using cones or markers to route customer traffic. You can also speed up the process by having your guests call once they arrive and tell you where they want their order placed inside their car—in the back seat, for example, or possibly the trunk. Not only does this facilitate physical distancing, but it also gives your staff guidance prior to bringing it to the car to make the food drop even faster.


5. Shift your labor

With the pivot to off-premise-only dining, many restaurants are adapting their labor model to more efficiently support this change. Consider reallocating staff members to run orders to curbside customers, supplement your kitchen staff and monitor the door, the phone and online or social inquiries. If you’re looking to use some of your employees for delivery, first check local laws and regulations.


6. Begin planning for post-pandemic operations

Right now, you’re heavily focused on curbside and delivery. But what will this mean for your restaurant in a post-coronavirus world? You may find many of your customers will want to continue—and may even prefer—getting food from your restaurant this way. So, take this time to evaluate what’s working and not working; in fact, you could treat this time as a “discovery period” for making curbside a permanent service.  

Things to consider:  

  • How will your guests prefer to pay in the future—will more adopt mobile payments?  
  • How will they want to order? Will they still turn to your online channels when your dining room is open again?  
  • How can you shift your labor to accommodate curbside service in the future?  
  • How can you best optimize your parking area when customers are frequenting your dining room again?  


For more information on pivoting to curbside operations, third-party delivery and more, explore NCR or contact our restaurant team. To read more COVID-19 articles, resources and stories, visit

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