When lockdown measures were introduced, Estrella Tacos y Mas turned to curbside pickup. Here’s how they use SMS to create a seamless process for staff and customers.
Estrella Tacos y Mas, a 5,000-square-foot, 260-seat taco bar in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, specializes in Austin-style tacos as well as craft beer.
The restaurant needed a way to cut down on the volume of repetitive and time-consuming phone calls about curbside pickup orders.
They were able to automate the curbside pickup process to ensure smooth, contactless delivery for both its customers and employees.
In March 2020, lockdown measures introduced to slow the spread of COVID-19 left restaurants scrambling to find ways to stay afloat.
That’s when many turned to curbside pickup. A Gallup survey found that 44% of U.S. adults picked up takeout from a restaurant in May (up from 26% at the end of March).
Estrella Tacos y Mas in Downingtown, Pennsylvania was one such restaurant.
When we ask the owner, CW Bruton, about implementing a process on the fly, he tells us that they were, “moving fast because it was changing weekly.”
It was during this time he found SimpleTexting.
“It was the most cost-effective and easy to implement curbside pickup software we came across.”
We spoke with him to learn how he replaced inefficient phone calls with texting.
Marketers and customer experience professionals spend a lot of time reading the channel preference tea leaves.
One recurring theme is that people prefer to text: especially if the other option is a phone call. For example, millennials love texting so much that if they had to give up either talking or texting on their cellphones, 75% would instead give up talking.
What’s often ignored is the benefits of texting to businesses.
“When somebody calls you, it takes you out of the business. Which is hard. Especially when you’re operating with less staff.”
This is especially true when people call to relay the same information–that they’re outside, their car model, and their name.
So instead of burdening his team with an endless stream of phone calls, CW automated the process using a text keyword.
A keyword is a word or phrase that your customers can text to a phone number to subscribe to future texts and receive an automatic message.
“We put it everywhere we can. It’s in the confirmation email. It’s in a header on the main mobile ordering page that gives them pickup instructions. We even have banners hanging in our parking lot and yard signs with the keyword.”
When someone texts the word pickup to their phone number, they receive the following automated text message.
When we ask CW why he chose SimpleTexting he points to the ability to text-enable his existing landline and the iPad app.
When you text-enable a business phone, calls go through as usual, and text messages are routed to the SimpleTexting platform. The benefit is that you can use a number to send and receive texts that customers are already familiar with.
The second major benefit was the mobile app that works on the restaurant’s iPads.
“We use an iPad that travels with whatever person is the take out lead. It’s their job to manage the contact with guests and coordinate delivery, and feedback from staff is that it’s very easy to use.”
The team is also able to use the SMS inbox to let customers know if they are running late and apologize. When an order is delivered, they mark the conversation as closed.
Feedback from customers has been positive too.
"Customers appreciate how smooth the process is from start to finish."
CW believes that curbside pickup isn’t going away anytime soon.
“I think, in the beginning, the curbside pickup option was a safety requirement, and it certainly still is. But I also think it’s so convenient that it’s now an expectation for people.”
With 87% of consumers wanting restaurants to continue to offer curbside pick up and other processes that limit the need for in-person visits, CW’s view is backed up by the data.
"I think it’s a differentiator for us versus restaurants that don’t do it."
His advice to other restaurants looking to improve their curbside pickup or introduce it as an option?
“Embrace technology and minimize the number of phone calls you receive as they are just so inefficient.”
If you want to learn more about SMS for restaurants, our text message marketing for restaurants guide is a good starting point. You can also sign up for a 14-day, risk-free trial. And, if you have questions about getting set up, email us at [email protected]
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