Digital Restaurants: The Secrets To Supercharging Your Sales In 2021

Hungry for success? Get your appetite sated right here.

James Robson
February 12, 2021

The British public have been longtime fans of the UK takeaway industry, with their appetite for takeout services hitting record highs of £10.6 Billion in 2019 (with an average yearly increase of 2.69% in spending since 2015).

Some industry experts argue that the current coronavirus situation may actually help, rather than hinder the UK takeaway industry. All that said, this has only been a recent trend, with restaurant spending by consumers falling by 3.5% in January 2020 and takeaway spending growing by 11.4%.

The latest data from Kantar has shown that restaurants who are able to pivot their business model away from in-person collections to online services (such as Just Eat or Deliveroo) are able to drive higher revenue for their business.

It stands to reason that, with a UK-wide lockdown in place, consumers are spending more time at home and demand for takeout restaurant services would spike.

Even FundOnion’s own analysis of data at Companies House has shown that, since the beginning of 2020, there has been a 9% increase in registered takeaway and mobile food businesses.

So, for you restaurateurs out there: what can you do to supercharge your business sales during 2020? Our pro-tips for this are to understand how the UK online delivery market works, make sure your business is ready for the online transition, and get your finances in order to meet surging new demand in an ever-competitive marketplace.

1. Understanding The Delivery Market

First thing’s first: you need to get your restaurant onto one (if not many) of the dominant online and app-based delivery services. Major players in this space include groups such as Just Eat, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats. In terms of their UK range, Just Eat has grown from starting its business back in the early 2000s to having over 29,000 participating restaurants on its platform. Deliveroo has over 10,000 registered food-delivery providers on its platform.

This really means that if your business isn’t listed on one of these delivery services then you’re missing out on a large potential group of customers for your restaurant.

You can sign up online with firms like Deliveroo on their website where their system will pipe orders into your kitchen from customers on their app, you can choose to use their delivery drivers or your own. The whole process takes around seven days from uploading your menu to their platform.

With all this in mind, you might ask – what’s in it for providers like Deliveroo? They will look to take a commission on sales generated through the app of likely around 25% and obviously this needs to be borne in mind when assessing your deal with them.

So plug in, set up, and get ready to supercharge your sales online and grow your business during COVID-19.

2. Get Your Business Online Ready

There’s no mistake that business these days has gone digital, with an emphasis on social media. Even if you have the best food in your local area, if you’re not getting the word out to potential customers, then they’re not going to be spending their money with you.

A huge number of potential restaurant customers use social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter when sussing out restaurants in their area they’d like to order from. Research from Barclays back in 2018 showed that one in five customers in the UK check restaurants’ social feeds and websites before deciding whether to visit (or, we guess, order takeout).

By setting up effective and attractive social media pages, you can build awareness among potential customers, increase returning business, and encourage customers to order with you online (perhaps even taking advantage of that online delivery service you just signed up for…).

In terms of maximising your online presence – if we’re talking here about pivoting your business towards online delivery services, then make sure your business stands out on these platforms. Potential customers should see your restaurant, be attracted by the photos and overall feel of your account, and go in to make orders. This means considering their User Experience (also known as ‘Customer Journey’).

If we take Uber Eats for example. By posting deals on the platform such as Free Delivery Promotion, free delivery with a minimum spend, or offers such as 2-for-1 you can maximise your customer conversion:

In terms of some other tips:

  • Check out this great blog post from Hopper HQ on social media hacks for your Instagram account. This article contains some pretty straightforward Instagram tips such as using Hashtags to create a strong restaurant brand, as well as some pro tips like keeping a consistent colour palette, running competitions, and partnering with influencers.
  • Make sure you keep an eye on profiles your restaurant might have on Google Reviews and Tripadvisor – sites like these can really impact your business if potential customers are seeing bad reviews or queries that go unanswered by the restaurant.

Getting your website looking fashionable and modern these days is quick, easy, and extremely cheap by using some of the basic website builders such as Wix, SquareSpace, or GoDaddy.

3. Know Your Finance Toolbox And Don't Be Afraid To Use It

Finance is obviously a hot topic right now, with government-backed CBILS and BBLS facilities being made available for small businesses – but what types of finance work best for restaurant businesses? Being aware of your finance toolbox lets you leverage whatever assets you have in your arsenal to grow your business (especially if you’re making a move online).

We’re under no misunderstanding that this is a difficult time for a lot of businesses – including restaurants – but this doesn’t rule out the need for some to look at financing options to increase marketing, buy new equipment, or get some headroom in your cashflow to keep operations smooth.

A business loan (either CBILS, BBLS, or a regular facility) can be a good way of stimulating your businesses’ finances with a cash injection. There are providers out there who are able to assist businesses looking for decent rates with products like these (and you can check out FundOnion's search function to see who you qualify for instantly plus rates and other amazing info).

But one really useful – and increasingly ever-popular – financial product that we think suits a restaurant’s business model is that of the Merchant Cash Advance (also known as an “MCA” or a “business cash advance”).

MCAs work by advancing a certain amount of cash to a business, usually determined on monthly turnover, and then setting up a revenue split in order to repay the advance over time. Different to a standard business loan, MCAs do not have fixed monthly payments and often have no fixed term (lenders usually will have them in place for an anticipated period of 6 – 12 months).

Hopefully, this will be enough to start you on a journey of looking at MCAs. Be warned, however, nothing comes for free and with the greater flexibility and lack of fixed monthly payments, MCAs can be relatively more expensive than a standard business loan.

Former lawyer, now building the future of SME finance.