Is a third party delivery service ideal for my restaurant? How do I start using it?

More than ever, consumers boast jam-packed schedules with limited time to prepare meals at home or take the family to a restaurant for a meal. Due to this, the convenience of restaurant delivery has taken the world by storm, giving consumers the food they crave and giving restaurants a way to increase their audience and sales.

In April of 2018, Melissa Wilson noted at the Restaurant Leadership Conference that food delivery is projected to grow in the double digits – 12% per year for the next five years. So how do restaurant owners take a bite out of this growing pie? Restaurant Apps and Third-Party Delivery, plus having the right equipment to do the job are essential.

Restaurant App

Walk down any street or in any store, and you will find people on their smart phones. Meet customers where they are! Taking the time to invest in an application for your restaurant opens a plethora of opportunities to reach your market and grow the restaurant, even if customers never step foot inside the restaurant. Of course, the ability to develop an app will depend on the resources available. Significant amounts of time and money are required to develop an app, but the resource will yield great rewards when executed well. Increased customer base through delivery, brand loyalty, and increased sales are goals of every restaurant!

Benefits of Restaurant Apps:

  • Menu with Strong Visual Options
    • A traditional menu makes it difficult to showcase each delicious menu option without crowding the menu. An online menu gives the ability to entice customers with attractive imagery of their meal options.
  • Online ordering and delivery (or pick up)
    • The ability to order meals from the click of a button and quickly get delicious food is a large draw to the use of restaurant apps among consumers today. And the more options available that are convenient for customers, the more likely that the order is made. Order online with drive up pick up; inside pick up; or delivery.
  • Simplified Payments
    • Ability to save payment information for future purchases
  • Loyalty Programs
    • Allow customers to build up to rewards through purchases! These types of programs give consumers another reason to order from your restaurant (as if they weren’t craving your secret recipe already!), builds brand loyalty, and increases sales in the long term.
  • Online Table Reservations
    • Keeps tables full with the ease of reserving tables online, allowing reservations to be made even when the restaurant is closed. This feature also frees up the time of staff and reduces congestion in the waiting area of the restaurant as consumers wait for their table.
  • Location Based Deals
    • Enable location services to push notification of deals when customers are nearby. This ability will remind customers of their favorite meals and will want to act on the deal.

Third Party

Third party delivery is the outsourcing of delivery to a third-party company. Companies such as DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates, etc. all offer the ability for consumers to log in to an app or online and order food from registered restaurants. The third-party company then picks up the food from the restaurant and delivers the food to the customer – giving the customer the ability to order food and never directly talk to the restaurant or walk into the restaurant.

Research from Mintel.com found that “87% of Americans who use third-party food delivery services agree that it makes their lives easier, and nearly one third (31%) say they use these services at least twice a week.” While more than two-thirds of restaurant delivery users agree it’s more fun to go to a restaurant than to order in, the convenience and time-savings of utilizing restaurant delivery drive customers to continue using the services on a regular basis.

The Good

  • Eliminates the need for hiring, training and employing delivery driver (including insurance on the drivers)
  • Opens restaurant to a new customer base who use the app
  • Increased revenue
  • Simplifies order operations – doesn’t take up the time of other employees taking an order over the phone because orders sync with a point of sale systems.

The Risks

There are risks and disadvantages with every decision when running a business. Knowing the risks and potential negative aspects of third-party delivery allows restaurant owners to take proactive steps to avoid any issues.

  • Aiding the competition – by leading customers to use the third-party delivery service, customers may be tempted by delivery offered by other restaurants
  • Tampering – utilize “tamper evident” packaging to discourage delivery drivers from taking a few fries or sip of a drink
  • Food Safety & Quality – should always be a concern, but extra precautions need to be made to ensure proper temperatures when being delivered (see equipment section below). Are there foods your restaurant serves that is not ideal for delivery? Only offer foods that will represent your restaurant well and keep customers ordering again and again.

Getting Started With Third Party Delivery

  • Establish which platform(s) you will utilize.
    • Test out one platform and expand from there once the process is running smoothly for your kitchen. The platform(s) available to use will depend on what is offered in your area, but there is a plethora of options to select from. Keep in mind that each platform is set up differently. Fees, ease of use, and integration with your systems will vary with each.
  • Partner with preferred platform easily online: DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, Postmates
    • Establish written agreements with that food is being handled at safe temperatures; that the partners ensure possession of insurance for drivers; and that responsibility during transport is on the partnered platform
  • Work with the platform to develop your restaurant’s “storefront” – remember that pictures go a long way on the menu!
  • Begin taking orders!

Delivery Service Equipment and Supply Essentials

For maximum efficiency, it is recommended to set up a dedicated area for take-out and delivery preparation with the proper equipment and space that will not interfere with regular operation. Meghan Hurst, Senior Marketing Manager at ITW Food Equipment Group, Vulcan notes that many customers “have added second cooklines, specifically for take-out or delivery orders.” These secondary cooklines allow operators to ensure that food is then being held at proper temperatures until delivery drivers arrive, instead of directly being served in the dining room.

Food that is left out too long at room temperature is at risk of growing bacteria at dangerous levels that can cause illness. According to the USDA, “bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes,” so it is crucial to utilize proper equipment when implementing delivery services. 

Holding Cabinets

Holding cabinets keep foods out of this “danger zone” until it is ready for pick-up from delivery drivers. Holding cabinets are available in a variety of sizes and styles ranging from full height, insulated cabinets down to undercounter models.

Worktables and Stations

Worktables and stations that are separated from regular operations offers a place to assemble and organize meals for delivery drivers. Mandy Cook at John Boos points out that “custom food pick-up areas for delivery drivers helps make the process fast and efficient.” John Boos offers the experience to help manufacture a custom area that can incorporate all the necessary items needed to get drivers in and out in a minimum amount of time.

Speak with a product consultant at 800-215-9293 to discuss designing a custom area for your kitchen.

Delivery Bags

If your restaurant decides to keep delivery as an internal operation, delivery bags are necessary. These bags keep food at the correct temperatures during transportation. Available in a variety of sizes and styles to best fit the needs of any delivery services.

Take Out Supplies

Package orders in disposable boxes, bags, and cups that will safely transport masterful dishes. Paper, plastic, biodegradable or not, ensure that your restaurant’s delicious dishes are the same in-store as they are delivered.