With the massive changes that the hospitality industry has recently undergone because of COVID-19, restaurant owners are looking for ways to modify their business models to adapt and overcome new challenges as they arise. Even as dine-in restrictions begin to lift, off-premises dining continues to remain the top revenue-driver for restaurants nationwide because of the safety and convenience it brings consumers. One of the new restaurant trends benefiting both owners and customers in today’s evolving industry is build-your-own meal kits.
What is a Build-Your-Own Meal Kit?
A build-your-own meal kit contains all the ingredients needed for customers to prepare, cook, and serve their favorite dishes from your establishment in the comfort of their own homes. It provides exact measurements for each ingredient as well as instructions on how to prepare the dish at home.
These kits have been slowly growing in demand over the past several years—initially offered through subscription services—and the demand continues to grow. In fact, the $2.2 billion meal kit industry is expected to grow 25% to 30% by 2022.
A trend motivating customers to cook from home could be concerning to restaurant owners, however, this actually provides a huge opportunity for the savvy restaurateur to get in the game and expand their off-premises services during and after COVID-19.
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How Restaurant Meal Kits Benefit Both You and Your Customers
Benefit for Customers:
Fulfills Their Needs
Over the past decade, there has been a growing shift towards health-conscious lifestyles. Meal kits fill the need for healthy, homemade meals at a reasonable cost. Customers love this option, as it gives them a wider variety of choices for meals, rather than relying on just grocery shopping or regular takeout.
An Exciting Experience
Meal kits allow your customers to prepare a meal at home with their friends and family, which provides for a great customer experience even off-premises. Many restaurants are offering promotions and reduced-cost options to get customers to try this service and try the new experience for themselves.
Peace of Mind
Amid COVID-19 concerns and the aftermath, many customers are concerned about venturing to public places. Meal kits allow customers to pick up their dinner via curbside pickup or have them delivered to their doors, which limits the number of trips they need to make and keeps them feeling safer.
Restaurants have the upper hand over subscription meal kits in this instance. Restaurants can offer same-day fulfillment when customers order meal kits, while online competitors require subscription packages and extra time to allow for shipment and delivery (plus added costs of shipping). This allows customers to get the meals they want, whenever they want them.
Benefit for Restaurants:
There are several benefits that restaurants can enjoy with meal kit preparation over preparing food in-house. The first is optimizing costs. Meal kit preparation takes out most of the labor costs, since food only needs to be measured out, packed, and delivered, instead of being fully cooked and prepared. This allows you to push inventory and maximize inventory profitability, since fewer costs are required for labor.
An Additional Revenue Stream
Meal kits also provide an additional revenue stream for restaurants. Due to COVID-19, off-premises dining options have been all the more crucial. Even as restaurants begin to open their dining rooms back up, customers may still want more meal options and variety from the comfort of their home. Meal kits allow you to offer an additional takeout and delivery option aside from prepared takeout and delivery.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Build-your-own meal kits can enhance the customers’ dining experience, even from their home. Thanks to your meal kit, families and friends can make new memories and create new experiences from their homes, emotionally connecting to your brand, strengthening their loyalty to your business and driving repeat sales. You know your customers already love your food; meal kits take their admiration to the next level and give them more opportunities to interact with your brand and enjoy your meals in a new light.
5 Tips to Maximize the Success of Build-Your-Own Meal Kits
- Consider switching up your regular menu to offer new and exciting dishes to encourage customers to order meal kits that they can’t get in-restaurant. Get innovative! For example, if you’re known for Italian pasta dishes, think about a meal kit with different pasta shapes, sauces, and toppings, otherwise something your customers can’t normally get all at once at your restaurant. Try out a different meal kit promotion for each day of the week, such as a chicken dinner on Monday, taco kit on Tuesday, etc. Meal kits allow your customers to enjoy the high-quality food they love from your establishment, all while keeping interest, variety, and creativity in building their own dish.
- Promote your meal kits with digital marketing. Generate interest by, for instance, taking a video of one of your chefs preparing the kit in the restaurant kitchen to show how easy it is to prepare at home. Then, generate interest by posting it to one or more of your social channels. You can even use social media and email marketing to share your meal kit options, and offer any promotions to try out your new service—like 20% off their first kit purchased, or double loyalty program points.
- Invest in quality packaging. This is so important for transporting ingredients and keeping them fresh and looking good from your restaurant to their kitchen. Not only is this crucial in customer satisfaction and safety, it can offer a unique branding opportunity by personalizing your packaging. Keep your kits safe and secure by using tamper-proof labels to properly fasten packaging.
- Good instructions increase quality control. It’s important to provide clear and concise preparation guidelines so that your meal kit dishes taste the same, or as close as possible, as if it were prepared in-house.
- Make it easy for your staff by relying on an integrated restaurant management system. This includes a system to keep track of online ordering and delivery, your loyalty program, and point of sale transactions. An integrated system collects and keeps all your customers’ data in one place. It can even make it easy for you to adjust your menu on the fly—for example, if you run out of an ingredient mid-day, an integrated tech suite can immediately update your meal kits across all of your restaurant’s platforms, keeping things running smoothly and your customers’ expectations in line. Reporting will be a breeze, which is especially important as you test your new meal kit service and keep a close eye on your profit margin.
HungerRush is an innovative restaurant management system that includes industry-designed HungerRush Online Ordering and loyalty, which helps restaurants cater to their customers’ needs no matter the industry circumstances. Our scalable, flexible solutions provide restaurants with the tools required to optimize their business and remain profitable in today’s changing economy. Interested in learning more about how your restaurant can adapt to thrive? Request a Free Demonstration. Ready for more from HungerRush?