Meals on Wheels
What’s the Right Vehicle for Delivery
Our industry is constantly evolving at a dizzying pace. Just when you catch your breath, there is a new trend to explore, or competitors throw you a new curveball. Take delivery, for instance. It would be a whole lot easier for most operators to nix adding a delivery option. However, would it make good business sense to do so? Let’s face it – Americans want a great meal, and they want convenience. Not only do they expect you to prepare a quality meal, but it’s looking more and more like they expect you to bring it to their doorstep.
The pizza industry has been delivering its pies for decades. This segment long ago figured out how to accomplish the seemingly impossible – delivery of a quality meal – free, fast and hot. Most pizzerias offer home delivery, and it’s usually in their own fleet of vehicles driven by their own employees. Now that home delivery is catching on in many other industry segments, some operators are indeed using their own dedicated vehicles and their own employees. Another delivery option gaining momentum is third-party delivery services. Companies that specialize in delivering meals from restaurants to their customers’ homes are cropping up across the U.S. There are pros and cons to each method of delivery. Here are some benefits of each and possible pitfalls:
Operator self delivery
- Operator retains control of order process and condition of food until it reaches the customer.
- Can utilize website by adding “delivery” tab with menus, order form and payment options; can cross-reference with social media sites and apps.
- Delivery vehicles serve double-duty as traveling billboards for restaurants.
- Substantial investment in vehicles, equipment, staff, maintenance.
- Added liability/insurance coverage.
Third party delivery
- Allows addition of delivery capability with minimum expenditure.
- One less thing to worry about.
- Less stress on existing staff.
- Operator relinquishes control of the delivery process and condition of food upon delivery.
- Some delivery services elevate menu prices in addition to delivery fee.
- Added chance of error and things getting lost in translation.
- Delivery employees may not be properly trained to handle food.
Delivery fees, service charges/tips are added to the check total. Customers pay with cash, credit card, Paypal, etc. Apple iPhone and Android smartphone apps are also available, and GPS allows customers to track the location of their order.
Here is a listing of some of the third-party delivery services operating in the U. S. If you are considering partnering with an outside delivery service, check out these websites to learn more:
As part of your due diligence, try using several of these services yourself in your own home to gauge whether they measure up to your expectations and would add to your operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.