It is a new year, which means you have new goals, for both yourself and your business. If you are a local restaurant owner, whether it be a small corner cafe or a booming dinner hot spot downtown, you should be considering adding delivery options for your customers. Dining at home is the new going out, and if business owners don’t stay up to date on these changes, you could see your thriving business begin to diminish in sales.
If you are curious about how to begin adding sustainable delivery for your customers but you aren’t sure where to begin or what to think about, we have created this quick-reference guide as a starter delivery kit. Check out our recommendations and review statistics on where delivery is going — you might be shocked how vital delivery is to keep your customers engaged in 2020.
Why Should You Offer Food Delivery?
You may be wondering why delivery is one of the most important things you can add to your restaurant business in order to keep your customers loyal and improve your sales. Nation’s Restaurant News reported that 51% of Americans use delivery services to order meals from casual dining establishments, and 26% of them order at least once a week.
By not offering delivery options to your customers you are alienating your customer base on nights where they are choosing to order in — cutting out profits and possibly reducing their likelihood to return to your business. Adding food delivery options for your customers is no longer as large a project as it used to be. We break down tips and tricks that people are using today, from small businesses to larger restaurants, that can be utilized to fit exactly your food delivery needs and will keep your customers coming back for more, even when they don’t leave the house.
Step 1: In-House Staff or a Food Delivery Service?
Considering all of your delivery options is the first step to figuring out which one will work best for your business.
Third-party apps for food delivery service are now numerous and provide different perks, fees, and ease of use for restaurant owners. If you are looking to outsource the delivery team, consider big names like GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates, Deliveroo, and many more.
The pros of choosing a third-party food delivery service are that the hiring, transportation, and routes have all been taken care of for you. Your restaurant will appear on the local listings on the apps, and customers will be able to order delivery directly from you without any hassle. This can be a great option if you don’t expect a lot of delivery orders, you expect them at infrequent times, or you are not able to build your own in-house team quite yet.
The downsides of third-party services have to be considered, though. Many of them come with fees, and if you operate on a smaller profit margin, the fees could hinder any profits you may have gained from adding delivery, to begin with. You also lose control of your orders the moment they leave your restaurant, and you can’t control the delivery speed or quality.
An in-house delivery team, while a bit more work and cost upfront, can have longer beneficial outcomes. With an in-house team, you can build loyalty between your drivers and yourself. When orders leave your restaurant, you can contact the driver for changes, upgrades, or callbacks, and you can respond directly to customers if issues arise. Having an in-house delivery staff can also come in different sizes — if delivery requests are infrequent, you may not need to hire more than or two part-time staffers. You also have access to all of the profits, instead of out-sourcing.
Whichever delivery route you use, customers will be grateful they can now order their favorite dishes when at home, keeping you relevant in their minds and earning their loyalty, one takeout container at a time.
Step 2: Making Space for Online Food Delivery Orders
Regardless of how you choose to deliver your meals to your customers, you need a designated space in your restaurant to do so. If delivery orders begin booming during the dinner rush, you do not want delivery staff to interfere with in-house meals.
Even if operating in a small cafe, carve out a section of counter-tops that can be used for food delivery meal prep and more. This is also where you will store orders until they are ready to go out the door, or the driver returns.
Also dedicate this location for organizing the delivery containers, lids, carryout bags, tickets, and more. This keeps your restaurant delivery staff organized and ready to go, so there are no hassles and an ease of completion.
Step 3: Choose Reliable Sustainable Takeout Containers and Bags for Transport
You have your staff, you have your food prep, and everything is ready to be bundled up and go out the door. And just like the presentation of your food in-house is important, so is the presentation when your food arrives.
It is important to choose sturdy containers when providing delivery — something that handles the sudden movement of a car, stores well for leftovers, and looks nice for your customers. Eco-pliant provides a variety of food delivery containers that stand up against wear-and-tear, and they are recyclable.
32% of millennials — the main demographic ordering delivery in 2020 — say they are more likely to order from a restaurant that provides sustainable materials and is part of the going-green solution, as reported by Restaurant Business Online. Be part of this solution and brag to your customers about it by delivering your meals in paper carryout bags; biodegradable clamshell containers with a variety of compartment options for meals with sides or sauces; fiber bowls and lids for soup and salad orders; and recyclable portion cups for ketchup, dippers, and more.
Going-green and providing sturdy delivery containers can be one in the same. Choose something that looks appealing to your customers and doesn’t clog their trash bins.
Step 4: Plan Your Marketing, Promotion, and Loyalty Program
Once everything is in place for your delivery service, you need to make sure you tell your customers about it. A press release announcing your delivery service is always a good idea, so it can be published in the dining section of your local newspaper and can be circulated in your town’s online news sources.
Make sure you include announcements about it on your menus and place a sign that customers cannot miss in your windows and at your ordering counter or hostess station. Online is where you can hit the largest demographic — create digital marketing announcements on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and encourage your followers to share, like, and comment.
Loyalty programs, apps, mobile ordering, coupons, and rewards are also huge ways to engage your customers and promote your delivery. 45% of customers are more likely to order when there are coupons or rewards programs. To show your customers the efficiency of your food delivery, offer a coupon code for your first few weeks, attaching it to your early promotions.
Step 5: Monitor Your Success and Adjust as Needed
[The delivery method you create in the beginning does not have to be the delivery routine you stick with. Monitor your peak delivery times versus your peak dine-in times, and evaluate if you need a dedicated delivery staff or if you can allocate other team members when dine-in times lower and delivery times peak. If you find you are extremely popular with delivery, you can always forgo a third-party delivery service and instead create an in-house team, and vice versa.
Remember that delivery is supposed to engage your customers and boost your business. Always do what is best for you and your customers, no matter where that leads you. Provide sustainable food containers, offer local delivery, and create coupons and deals to celebrate your success. Wherever your delivery journey leads you, enjoy the ride! If you have any other recommendations, let us know below!