It’s noon, and you are hungry. There is nothing in the refrigerator, but that doesn’t matter; you weren’t cooking anyway. Going to the grocery store to pick up some bread and deli meat seems like a chore. Fast food sounds appetizing, but it would negate your morning workout, and eating out seems too extravagant for a Tuesday. That leaves one very popular option for lunch. Curbside pickup at your favorite fast-casual spot for a $12 sandwich/salad/burrito.

Curbside pickup is by no means a new concept. Your local sub shop probably already offers it. Some will even offer exclusive parking spots right near the front door. Then the ‘fun’ starts. Call this number, and we’ll bring your food out to you. 

So, you sit there with your car running, listening to your favorite true-crime podcast, and hopefully, someone will answer your phone call by the 5th ring. In a perfect world, your food is delivered to your car within 5 minutes.

This experience is convenient-ish. B+. There is nothing wrong with a B+, but it’s not the type of user experience that builds loyalty or has customers shouting from the mountaintops about how great your business is. B+ is a Netflix original movie that you watch on a Sunday night when you’re wrapping up your weekend. Fine, but ultimately less than satisfying.

Now, suppose we accept the hypothesis that curbside delivery could be better. In that case, we then want to dive into the ‘how.’ Companies are already actively aware that this process needs to be improved. Look at Domino’s and their 2-minute guarantee; it’s reminiscent of delivery promises made in the 90s. If you arrive and your food doesn’t come in x minutes, it’s free! Domino’s leverages its mobile app, location services, and SMS to accomplish this. Today we are going to focus on two of those factors as paramount to reinvigorating an old process.

Leveraging SMS for seamless results

For fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, a seamless curbside process benefits everyone. The customer receives their food quicker, the business services more customers. This process is a winning equation. Keep in mind, most of these restaurants are offering curbside pickup, delivery, and dine-in. These locations can be fairly chaotic, especially around lunchtime. 

At many restaurants, the current pickup process has you arrive and place a phone call to a human inside the restaurant. This person will either walk to the kitchen, pack up your food and bring it outside or yell to a food runner, who may or may not also be processing standard delivery orders and dine-in orders within the restaurant.

As you can see, this process reeks of inefficiency.

Consider an alternative. A customer that arrives sends an SMS to let you know they have arrived. This SMS seamlessly links to a restaurant’s POS system, and the necessary employee is alerted digitally. No answering phones, no yelling, no running about. The customer didn’t even have to pause their podcast to call you. This system is already an improvement. 

The SMS experience can also include digital receipts, order confirmation and wait time, or COVID-friendly contactless pickup options. However, if we go a step further, we can really reinvent the wheel.

Adding location services to create a highly efficient machine 

The previous example still required user action, but there is a way to automate this even further. Your POS system can track a user who had opted into location services and could alert you when the customer was, say, two minutes away. Without a phone call or even an SMS from the customer, you could have their food prepared and waiting for them at the curb. Quicker than a NASCAR pit-stop!

And why does this matter? In the world of fast-casual and fast food, speed equals convenience. The situation that we just described is quicker than any carryout, drive-through, or curbside pickup experience. Leverage SMS to send notes such as “we see you’re close, your food will be ready outside in one minute.” 

For a young professional on the go, minutes can sometimes matter. And when we look at a business, a collection of these minutes over a full day, week, or month can save hundreds of hours. An efficient business is a profitable one.

Mitto is not a location services provider, but we partner with all the tech you need to optimize your customer experience. If you are interested in learning more about how you can supercharge your SMS by leveraging location, give us a call. Or better yet, shoot us a text.