Restaurants are under pressure to meet consumer demands; 57% of the millennials say that they prefer having food delivered, so they can watch movies and TV shows while enjoying their favorite food. In the current scenario, providing quick and efficient delivery by investing in delivery services seems like a smart choice. However, hopping on to the third-party food delivery bandwagon can be wearisome. Not only does it require planning and streamlining operations on various levels, but restaurants also need to make ongoing efforts to make the most of third party delivery services.
In this article, we will guide you through each step of the process- right from selecting a third party delivery service to using it to your restaurant’s advantage.
Selecting A Third-Party Delivery Service
With the boom in the food delivery market, restaurants are faced with the daunting task of selecting a third party delivery partner from the dozens of services available at competitive prices.
Here are a few things you should consider while selecting a third-party delivery service:
1. App Popularity
Compare all the alternative services available in your area- to see which one has the most subscribers or has the most daily active users before you tie-up with any particular service. Check review sites and compare ratings to get an idea of app performance and the kind of experience the delivery service is offering to its customers.
2. Delivery Charges
Take into consideration the delivery charges (if any) that the third party delivery service is levying on its customers. Although this may not directly affect your revenues, your customers would definitely prefer a service that charges a lower commission.
3. Delivery Time
Compare the average delivery time of the alternative services; the time taken to deliver food directly affects the state in which food reaches the customers and in turn customer satisfaction.
4. Customer Experience
One of the most common complaints of restaurant owners working with third-party delivery services is having to deal with untrained delivery riders. In the majority of the complaints about delayed delivery or the state in which the food is delivered, the third party delivery services shift the blame to the restaurant in question.
It is therefore advisable to spend some time analyzing the way in which the shortlisted service handles customer complaints and discuss issues related to delivery rider screening and training with the third party delivery providers.
Selecting the right third party delivery platform for your restaurant takes care of only one part of the delivery problem. There are several aspects of the delivery process that require your attention, which lead us to the next part of this article.
Prepping For Third-Party Delivery
It is important to streamline all components of the food delivery cycle before you outsource your delivery service.
1. Avoid Long-Term Commitments
Considering the fact that providing third party delivery can be a drain on your revenues, at least initially, you would want to experiment and keep your options open. Refrain from entering into a long term commitment before you are convinced that the third party delivery service is fit for your business.
Most of the third-party delivery services charge a commission anywhere between 15% -35% per order placed through their app. The final price is negotiable; bigger chains that have a larger customer base succeed in securing a much better deal than small independent restaurants. However, the price you pay is determined by your ability to negotiate favorable terms. So, give it your best shot.
3. Price Escalation
Sometimes restaurants have to recourse to increasing the prices of food items on the delivery menu offered through third-party delivery services. This is mainly to cover the commission charged by these services. Before you set out to do this, it would be prudent to evaluate the market. See what your competitors are doing, and check the price sensitivity of your customers. If you mark up prices to cover commission costs, you may end up losing customers to competitors who are offering lower prices.
4. Evaluate Your Menu
If this is the first time you are considering delivery, you would want to check if all items on your menu deliver well. Evaluate each menu item on the following three criteria to come up with the ideal delivery menu.
- Whether they do or do not travel well
- Whether the margin on the food item is enough to cover the delivery commission
- Packaging considerations
Remove the food items that do not lend themselves to pick-up or delivery from the menu, work out the finances for the rest to come up with the final delivery menu.
5. Packaging & Assembly
The packaging is one of the most important aspects of delivery. Go for the best packaging that you can afford; boxes, containers that would carry your food well, and retain food temperature and quality. Badly packaged food can be off-putting and discourages customers from ordering again from you no matter how good it tastes.
- Sustainable eco-friendly food packaging is the future.
- Provide add-ons such as napkins, cutlery, and condiments.
- Adding your brand logo on the takeaway boxes is a great way of reinforcing your brand identity.
6. Delivery Technology
One of the important factors to consider when getting started with delivery is order management from two sources. Consider investing in a kitchen display system that supports capacity management. This would not only provide order management but also help you to provide real-time estimates on expected delivery time to the third-party delivery partner and in turn your customers based on activity in a restaurant’s kitchen.
Tacking driver performance and delivery time helps restaurants manage contracts with third-party service providers. This level of accountability is also valuable to consumers that come to expect delivery from their favorite services within reasonable time frames.
7. Restaurant Layout
Providing third party delivery services can affect your in-store operations. Besides food preparation, you should also consider the following
- Who will assemble and pack delivery orders?
- Changes in kitchen layout considering that additional space may be required for assembling and packing delivery orders.
- Ensure that the delivery riders are not disrupting the in-store experience, you may want to consider a separate entry/exit/ waiting area for delivery riders.
8. Preparing your Staff
Ensure that you have adequate staff to handle the additional orders that you would be receiving via these services. It is also essential to train your staff to take delivery orders through the POS system or troubleshoot any food delivery issues.
How To Make The Most of Third-Party Delivery Services?
1. Integrate Your Existing POS
Tying up with a third party service for delivery can be a drain on resources. You can reduce the risk of franchisee underreporting by not opting for any of the tablet-only delivery services. Another way to reduce costs is to forego the tablet or email order notifications by integrating the third-party platform directly with the POS. This also saves labor time as you do not require a dedicated employee to transcribe orders manually.
2. Deliver The Best Customer Experience
On a third party delivery app, your brand is competing with all the restaurants in the vicinity that offer similar food. A customer will choose to order from you only if you are at the top of your game. This means not only your food but each aspect of the delivery experience requires your attention.
3. Focus on Customer Reviews
The important thing to remember is that most customers on a third-party app are not looking for your restaurant. They will browse through all available options and go through reviews before deciding on a place to eat. Customer reviews get more attention than food pictures. Positive reviews, in particular, will help your potential customers trust your business.
The one obvious way to ensure that your customers leave a positive review is by going above and beyond to deliver a great experience. The key is in the details- from food packaging to add-ons and the delivery time.
When delivering through a third-party service, you have no direct way of soliciting a review, but you can always have a message asking them to leave reviews printed on the takeaway boxes or bags.
4. In-App Marketing Strategy
You should have a go-to-market strategy in place when you launch delivery through third-party apps. Highlight Convenient Delivery Options On Your website and social media channels. Include the delivery options on the menu, flyers, and in-store posters. Train your staff to communicate the delivery option to your customers at check out.
Include offers or discounts in the delivery and to-go packaging/ or put out branded promotional stickers on takeout containers. You can also put out Ads on social networks to announce your arrival on delivery apps.
Most of the third party delivery apps offer easy advertising options for partner restaurants. Advertising can helps you increase your reach and visibility on the app and ensure that you appear on the top when people search for restaurants like yours on the app.
5. Create Metics To Track Performance
Setting clear goals and tracking your major KPIs regularly gives you the opportunity to identify your weaknesses and understand the preferences of your customers. This helps you to optimize your strategy and get the most out of these apps. Pay particular attention to strategies to make sure that the return on investment is worthwhile.
Working with third-party services comes with its challenges as well as advantages. While on one hand third party delivery services make restaurants available to a much wider audience and help them to increase revenues, on the flip side restaurants risk jeopardizing their dine-in sales and losing control over customer experience. However, with proper planning and a concentrated effort restaurants can leverage third-party delivery services to their advantage.