Ed Heskett
Blog, Operational efficiency

Eating on the go is how quick service restaurants got their name. But, what should you do when your customers can’t come to you? That’s when it’s time to take the food to the customers.

The problem and solution sound pretty simple, right? But, the fact is, food delivery is complicated and can be hard to implement on your own. That’s why many restaurant owners are looking to third-party partners to help them deliver. Here’s everything you need to know before choosing your delivery provider.

What to look for in a restaurant delivery partner

Not all delivery partners are created equal. Some might be a perfect fit for a national brand while others are better suited to handle restaurants in a particular region. For example, YUM! recently partnered with GrubHub to make online ordering, pickup, and delivery available to thousands of franchisees.

This move makes sense on a large scale. But, what should smaller scale operators be looking for in a third-party delivery service? Here are a few key things:

  1. Establish a strong profit margin: Your cost of food won’t change just because you’re using a delivery service. Add onto that the fee charged by the service and you could end up with a pretty thin margin. Make sure to negotiate your rate so that you have enough of a profit margin to sustain your delivery program.
  2. Remember your customers have other loyalties: Some of your customers might already be using a particular delivery service that they already prefer. In fact, they might go to their favorite delivery site before deciding what to order. Make it easier for them to order from you, by offering a few delivery options, if possible.
  3. Think about your brand: Many restaurants differentiate themselves through customer experience. As you’re choosing delivery partners, try to understand their culture and the customer experience that they offer. Make sure it matches your brand so that it won’t detract from it.
  4. Fix your service before implementing delivery: Adding a new way for customers to get your food can seem like a tempting way to fix low profits. But beware, implementing new delivery processes could actually amplify the problems your restaurants already experience. So, take the time to look at your numbers and make sure key things like food costs and speed of service are strong. Once your restaurant is operating efficiently, then you should consider adding delivery.

It’s best to approach delivery strategically. Thinking through your restaurant’s current level of service, the potential delivery partners, and your profit margins will set you up for success.

Why you need to start working on your delivery strategy

Right now, the average US consumer places 48 delivery orders per year. This number spikes to 66 with younger generations. The question isn’t, “Will delivery be a useful strategy for me?” The question is, “How soon can I implement delivery to keep pace with the changing market?”

It’s smart to proceed with caution, but don’t be afraid to try it. By following these tips, you can be sure that food delivery will be an easy win for your restaurant.

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