Customizing meals has become a trend in almost all restaurants across the world. Everyone has different tastes, so catering to that can bring in more customers.
From Chop’t to Chipotle, the trend has caught on to everyone. While a few brands provide ingredients, others offer tweakable chef-crafted options. And then there are also package meals that include combinations of food items.
As a restaurant owner, if you haven’t tried your hand at integrating meal customization, here is how to go about it:
1. Start with the Right Food
Unless you are a French fine dining restaurant, you can consider customization with various types of food. Casual foods such as salads, pizzas, burgers, and burritos can be high starting points. You can offer a variety of ingredients in the form of toppings, sauces, flavors, crusts, and more. The same ingredients can be used for multiple menu items.
Here are a few factors you need to keep in mind while choosing the food items for meal customization:
- Freshness: The freshness of the ingredients matter a lot when it comes to quality food. It delights your customers, invigorates their senses, and compels them to order. Make sure any vegetables, condiments, spices, or herbs that you provide are fresh and of high quality.
- Transparency: Meals prepared right in front of the customers give them a higher level of satisfaction than those prepared in the kitchen. Choose foods that you can make and mix outside the kitchen.
- Diet-Friendly: With more and more people becoming health-conscious, it matters to include diet-friendly options such as fat-free cheese, sugar-free dessert, low-carb burritos, and gluten-free crusts, in customization. Also, please give them the option of regulating their portion sizes and ingredients.
2. Get the Right Setup
Having the right set up is necessary if you want to offer meal customization. Take a Chipotle or Subway for an example. Their layout makes it very simple for the diners to direct and the staff to execute the customization. This is precisely what you need to do.
You can even make these changes in your kitchen. All that you would need is the right equipment and the supplies. Make sure the customers can see the ingredients that they want to include in their order.
You also need to consider organizing the kitchen if you want to go ahead with your plan. Divide your kitchen into three sections—preparation, meal cooking, and service.
- Preparation: This section should include the curtain storage areas and the stainless steel hot-holding wells to hold the ingredients.
- Meal Cooking: This is the section where you will place your rapid-cook ovens to cook the food that your customers have designed.
- Service: This is the section where your customers will pick up their food once it is ready to be served.
Another thing you need to consider here is the food presentation. This is where it matters to work smarter than harder.
3. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Configuring a point of sale software system can help you smartly handle menu customizations. Your employees can enter the customized meals and add in extra charges wherever required. Such a system can also help you in creating customer profiles. Their order history and your loyalty programs may come of use here.
You can also use social networking, digital services, and website analytics to understand your customers’ habits and preferences and track their milestones. In your database, you can store details about the birthdays and anniversaries of your customers, their contact details, and their food and seating preferences.
Whenever a staff member can provide you with vital information about your customers, you can add it as a note in the database. This will help you offer personalized experiences while enabling you to strengthen your bond with your guests.
Point of sale systems can help a lot when it comes to gathering details about your customers. There are many such systems available in the market. Explore a few point of sale solutions before you make your decision. Apart from the features and the price, you may also want to consider the quality of support offered. Find out if you can get one of those solutions customized for your restaurant.
Provide the Best Customer Experience
Meal customization is all about enhancing the experiences of your customers. You need to make things as convenient and exciting as possible so that the entire experience of customizing their meals becomes an adventure for your customers. Make sure you play it smart, without getting into any hassles.