By Brian Murphy, Foodable Industry Expert
Restaurant delivery has exploded in the market, and new meal ordering options for guests are at their fingertips. The popularity of delivery apps and the surge in delivery services come at an interesting time, considering wages, insurance, and overhead in general is rising. The business is so brisk that “ghost” and “virtual” restaurants are sprouting up in this new market, where dining in isn’t even an option.
To Deliver or Not Deliver?
There is a push from restaurant delivery companies like DoorDash, UberEATS, Grubhub, Eat24, and Amazon Restaurants (just to name a few of the larger players) to get restaurants signed up. Are the services they offer good for you? Some independents are finding that the extra exposure and convenience makes them a solid tool in building sales, while others have trouble making the numbers add up. There are many variables to consider before making the leap, so read the fine print and have questions prepared when you sit down with the company rep who is there to get you on board. Some consultations with a delivery company rep include a complete analysis of the menu to discuss delivery feasibility and help understand what items will move, in addition to working out the cost of the service.
Be in Control
There is a significant difference when the person contacting the customer is not affiliated with your establishment. No matter the quality of the organization or individual that is delivering your food, restaurateurs know that, traditionally, the server and the team delivery person represent the final stage of quality assurance. It’s time to rethink that, because an outside party there to pick up food and deliver it isn’t going to jump behind the salad prep and portion out the extra ranch dressings that the expo forgot. Those orders need to be spot on and the system needs to be planned before expecting the kitchen team to execute perfectly.
You must consider the entire menu when it comes to setting up the establishment for success. Are there items that just don’t pack much of a visual punch when they are packaged up in containers? Fresh ingredients that wilt and sauces that congeal or break are just a few examples of what you are up for sending out the door. The system used to send items out the door needs to be examined. Should the establishment have customers picking up food, keeping track of to-go orders is crucial. Think color-coding tickets and to-go staging areas to help make the process easier for the team, setting them up for success. Your staff needs to know procedures, variations on firing dishes and sides, and rethinking their normal day-to-day when your restaurant’s delivery service is starting.
Quality, Quality, Quality
There is more to the logistics of offering delivery than purchasing some take-out containers and bags. Consider getting a great photo of each plated menu item and attaching it to the outside of the bag getting delivered. The visual can aid delivery drivers who may not be familiar with your menu.
The eventual goal is to have a guest as happy with your food at home as they would be in your dining room. Executing that successfully requires varying sizes of containers for vegetables, sauces, garnishes, and condiments. Think about what a 20-minute ride can do to your plated food. Cold accompaniments need to be kept cold while crisp items need to maintain a crunch, and those things can’t happen in a hinged Styrofoam container. Remember that everything guests touch and interact with is important, including the take-out containers.
Get quality that meets budget requirements and successfully represents you, all while complementing the food. Easier said than done. Strategize about things that accompany an order and what size container you may need for those things. Otherwise you’ll soon be hemorrhaging money that ended up in a recycle bin.
Offering guests a card explaining how they can successfully reheat the food shows you care about your product and offers them a glimpse of your quality operation, all without ever having contact. Letting guests know that you care about their experience is truly important with delivery service models.
The anonymity involved in ordering using an app emboldens guests who may speak out publicly if the food was not to their liking. You won’t be in control of the human element, so you must control quality as much as you possibly can. Most importantly, in a world of online ordering and hopefully compostable or recyclable take-out containers, you need to be consistent and stand out.