Tips for existing businesses starting their own takeaway/ home delivery service during the COVID-19/ CoronaVirus Crisis

By Phil Scoble

Introduction

It’s a tough time for the hospitality trade – but if you are an independent operator, it’s possibly tougher than it’s ever been.

If you are looking for ways to keep your business afloat during the CoronaVirus / COVID-19 crisis, then many are turning to takeaway and home delivery. 

We have already outlined some of the ideas small hospitality businesses are taking in this blog. But if you are taking the jump, what do you need to think about and do, and what equipment do you need? We outline a series of hints and tips to consider below.

1. Registration

Normally, takeaway services need to register with their local authority 28 days before offering a service. This has been relaxed at the current time, but it’s probably still best to register when you get a moment – it’s free and the authority can’t refuse your right to trade. 

https://www.gov.uk/food-business-registration

2. How are your customers going to receive their food?

This is a vital question as, for the safety of the entire nation, it’s vital we all observe the 2metre social distancing guidelines at all times, you must think about how you will get the food to your customers and receive payment. 

Before you start offering takeaway or delivery, think about the way you would treat those who are self-isolating differently and make sure to disinfect delivery bag handles after every delivery – the virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 9 days, if it is like the other Corona virus strains like SARS and MERS. 

3. Payment  

The easiest way to receive payment is card over the internet – as this doesn’t increase the chance of transfer of the virus from you to customers or vice versa. If you don’t normally take payments by card there is a way around that: If you register as a takeaway on Just Eat, Deliveroo or Uber Eats, they will handle that for you as part of their service – here are links to sign up for those services: 

Deliveroo: https://restaurants.deliveroo.com/en-gb/ 

Uber Eats: https://www.ubereats.com/restaurant/en-GB/signup

Just Eat:  https://restaurants.just-eat.co.uk 

4. Equipment

If you already run a hospitality or food business, you may think you have all you need to run a takeaway service  – but there are a few considerations:

People don’t like to wait

If people sit in a restaurant, they are often prepared to wait for their food – but for takeaway this may not be the case. You need to be able to serve people quickly and efficiently. 

To ensure you can do this, you may need to increase your hot-holding equipment – such as hot cupboards, bain maries and hot serveries. 

Delivery can result in cold food – don’t get caught out

There is nothing worse than ordering a takeaway and it arriving cold. If you are doing delivery, protect yourself against this by investing in some delivery bags. These can keep food at a very snug 85 degrees until they reach the door of your customer.

Refrigeration is often overlooked

If you are converting to a takeaway, getting prepped is the key to efficient service, and getting at that prep quickly is vital. Think about investing in some additional refrigeration, especially multidecks, to give you quick and simple access to the prepped food. 

Vacuum packing machines

With the simple addition of a vacuum pack machine, you could create several income streams for your business. 

You could offer some of your normal menu dishes for sale for heating up later – be sure to chill the food before vacuum packing if you are cooking it off first.

Or, You could try un-cooked versions of your dishes with detailed instructions on how to cook them – we’ve seen one business in the Cotswolds offer their famous pies in this fashion.

It’s also a good opportunity to continue supporting your suppliers by portioning up meat and other primary ingredients for sale – if you buy from farms that aren’t able to go direct to customer this could be a great way to boost both of you by leveraging your existing customer base. 

Production Kit

It’s a great idea to increase your production equipment to boost your capacity quickly if you are going to be a takeaway – as we’ve previously mentioned, delays to food are less forgivable from takeaways. The cheapest and easiest way to do this is with a little fan oven, such as the new Lincat Convector series which will sit happily on a counter top.

If you want to expand your offering to foods more commonly found in a takeaway environment, adding a pizza oven can be a very cost effective way of doing this. You will be pandering to your customers’ tastes (pizza is still growing in popularity) and it is a very  cost-effective thing to add to your menu – cheap and readily available ingredients make it very attractive with a fantastic markup. 

Conclusion

So there you go, some business and equipment tips for those looking to move into takeaway or home delivery to boost their businesses at this particularly difficult time. 

1: Do register with your local authority as soon as you can, even if it’s not straight away

2: Put systems in place to handle deliveries to customers who are self isolating

3: Make sure you can take payment without cash to stop the spread of the virus

4: Consider your equipment setup – you can add refrigeration and hot holding equipment to speed up your service, buy delivery bags to ensure your food gets to customers hot, get a vacuum pack machine to facilitate selling ready meals or raw food for later cooking, and add some production kit to boost your capacity and even add profitable items to your menu. 

If you have any other ideas, please don’t hesitate to share them with us, and good luck in the current climate. 

For more information on the outbreak and what you can do as a business owner, here are some information links from the Government: 

Symptoms and what to do about them: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Advice for different sectors: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Advice and help for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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