Restaurant food delivery services have been on the rise over the last few years, and it’s clear that the trend is here to stay. In March 2020 alone, delivery orders surged by 67% when the coronavirus pandemic started, and the use of food delivery services has hardly slowed since public spaces reopened.
For restaurants, offering food delivery of some kind is pretty close to an absolute necessity now, but navigating the world of food delivery services isn’t always the easiest. Each service has its own pros and cons, and selecting the right ones to work with requires a little research. Then when you’ve made your selections, changing your workflow and setting up the service is a task in itself.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about restaurant food delivery services: what they are, what to look for when choosing one, and examples of the top services available.
What is a Restaurant Food Delivery Service?
A restaurant food delivery service is a third-party platform that connects restaurants with customers who want to order food for delivery. These services act as intermediaries, handling the logistics of the delivery process and providing a convenient way for restaurants to expand their reach and offer delivery options to their customers.
The most well-known food delivery services (that we’re sure you have probably used at some point) include GrubHub, DoorDash, and UberEats. But there are tons of other delivery services available to work with, each with their own unique offerings for restaurants.
How Do Restaurant Delivery Services Typically Work?
There are two main avenues for a food delivery service to work with your restaurant business.
In the first case, restaurant delivery services typically operate through their own mobile app or website where customers can browse for food options in their area, peruse menus, place orders, and track their deliveries.
The second way is for the food delivery services to operate behind-the-scenes when someone is trying to order food directly from your restaurant’s brand website. The service either integrates with your website’s point-of-sale system, or redirects users from your website to their own system in order to place the order and manage the delivery.
Here’s an overview of how the process generally works:
Customer Places an Order
Customers use the delivery service’s app or website, or visit your restaurant’s website, to browse the menu, and place their order.
The restaurant receives the order through the delivery service’s system, either via a tablet or integration with their own POS system.
The restaurant prepares the order based on the received information, and packages it up for the delivery driver.
The delivery service assigns a driver to pick up the order from the restaurant and deliver it to the customer.
The driver picks up the order and delivers it to the customer’s specified location.
Customer Feedback and Payment
After the delivery is complete, the customer may provide feedback and make payment through the delivery service’s platform.
Can You Work with More Than One Delivery Service?
Yes, restaurants have the option to work with multiple delivery services simultaneously. By partnering with multiple services, restaurants can increase their visibility and reach a wider customer base. However, it’s important to consider the operational implications, such as managing orders from different platforms and coordinating deliveries with multiple drivers.
Which are the Best Restaurant Delivery Services?
There are several prominent restaurant delivery services available, each with its own strengths and market presence. Some of the best-known delivery services include:
- Uber Eats
- Doordash Drive (for restaurants to offer their own delivery services)
The choice of the best delivery service depends on factors such as regional availability, customer demand, service fees, and commission structures. It’s advisable to research and evaluate the services available in your area to determine which aligns best with your restaurant’s needs and target audience.
Researching Your Food Delivery Service Options
Before going through the setup with just any delivery service, it’s important to know which ones you want to work with, and why. When researching delivery service options for your restaurant, here are some of the main factors you should look out for:
Ensure that the delivery service operates in your area and covers the locations where your target customers are located.
Evaluate the delivery service’s market presence and customer base. Look for services with a large user base and a strong reputation in your region.
Commission and Fees
Compare the commission rates and fees charged by different delivery services. Consider how these costs will impact your profitability and pricing strategy.
Assess the delivery service’s coverage area and ensure it aligns with your desired delivery range. Some services may have limitations on how far they can deliver.
Research the volume of orders the delivery service generates and assess if it aligns with your restaurant’s capacity to handle increased demand.
Customer Reviews and Ratings
Look for feedback from other restaurants that have used the service. Online reviews and ratings can provide insights into the quality of service, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
Evaluate Delivery Service Terms
Each delivery service will have its own set of terms for different services and features. You’ll want to take a look at how the pricing structures and feature sets of each delivery service may impact the strategy, and bottom line, of your business.
Understand how the commission is calculated, whether it’s a percentage of each order, a fixed fee, or a combination of both. Consider how this commission will affect your profitability.
Determine if there are any additional fees charged by the delivery service, such as marketing fees, tablet rental fees, or menu integration fees.
Assess whether the delivery service provides marketing support to promote your restaurant on their platform. This can include featured placements, targeted advertising, or partnership opportunities.
Order Management Tools
Evaluate the order management tools provided by the delivery service. Look for features such as order tracking, order history, and customer data that can help you manage and analyze your delivery operations.
Check if the delivery service offers integration with your POS system or online ordering platform. Seamless integration can streamline order processing and reduce manual efforts.
Research the level of customer support provided by the delivery service. Look for responsiveness, availability, and the ease of communication with their support team.
Review the terms of the partnership agreement, including the duration of the contract, termination clauses, and any exclusivity requirements.
Assess Operational Feasibility
When considering setting up a delivery service for your restaurant, it’s important to assess the feasibility, and actual practice, of how you’ll work with that delivery service. Here are some key factors to consider:
Evaluate whether your restaurant has the capacity to handle delivery orders effectively. Consider factors such as kitchen space, staffing levels, and equipment availability. Ensure that you can meet the increased demand without compromising the quality of food or service for both delivery and dine-in customers.
Determine the geographical area you can reasonably cover for delivery. Assess the distance from your restaurant, traffic patterns, and delivery times to ensure that you can provide timely and efficient delivery service within the desired range.
Packaging and Presentation
Consider the packaging requirements for delivery orders. Ensure that your menu items can be properly packaged to maintain their quality during transportation. Invest in appropriate packaging materials that keep the food fresh and presentable upon arrival.
Evaluate the logistics of managing deliveries, including routing, driver allocation, and order tracking. Assess whether you have the necessary tools and processes in place to efficiently manage delivery operations. If needed, explore the use of delivery management software or partner with a third-party logistics provider to streamline the process.
Staffing and Training
Assess whether you have sufficient staff to handle the additional workload associated with delivery orders. Determine if additional hiring or cross-training is necessary. Provide training to your delivery staff on best practices for handling orders, customer service, and efficient navigation.
Review your menu and identify items that are suitable for delivery. Consider factors such as food quality, presentation, and the ability to maintain freshness during transit. Adjust your menu, if necessary, to offer items that travel well and meet customer expectations.
Costs and Pricing
Evaluate the costs associated with implementing a delivery service, including delivery staff wages, packaging materials, and potential commission fees from delivery partners. Determine appropriate pricing for your delivery menu to cover these costs while remaining competitive in the market.
Marketing and Promotion
Consider how you will promote your delivery service to attract customers. Assess your marketing strategy, including online advertising, social media presence, and partnerships with delivery platforms. Determine the resources and budget required for effective marketing campaigns.
Customer Feedback and Satisfaction
Regularly collect and analyze customer feedback to identify areas for improvement in your delivery service. Consider implementing a system for monitoring customer satisfaction and addressing any issues that arise promptly.
How to Set Up a Restaurant Food Delivery Service
Once you’ve done your research, and selected the delivery services you’d like to work with, you’ll need to work through the setup process. One of the most daunting steps to working with a delivery service is the process to get everything set up and operational. The good news is that most food delivery services have a pretty well thought-out setup process, and they all seem to work similarly.
To set up a delivery service for your restaurant, here is how the general workflow goes:
Partner and Set Up Integration
Once you’ve chosen a delivery service, reach out to them to begin the partnership process. This may involve signing agreements and setting up any necessary integrations with your POS system. Generally this is when you’d start to get to know someone like an account manager that you’ll work with on an ongoing basis for support and training.
Prepare Your Menu
Optimize your menu for delivery, ensuring that the items, and their packaging, can withstand transportation and maintain the quality of the food. You may decide that some of your dishes don’t work well for delivery, or you may need to change the way you package some dishes so that there is a better chance of food arriving the way you’d like it to.
Train Staff and Implement Processes
Provide training to your staff on handling delivery orders, packaging procedures, and communication with delivery drivers. Generally this means that someone will need to keep their eye on the online ordering system to make sure that nothing is missed, and orders can be prepared for the delivery driver in a reasonable timeframe. There’s not much delivery drivers dislike more than waiting at the restaurant for food to be prepared for their delivery.
Promote Your Delivery Service
Market your delivery service through your website, social media channels, and in-store signage to create awareness and encourage customer adoption. Generally, people who order food for delivery will likely order from the same place multiple times, so promoting your delivery service can be a good way to foster repeat customers.
By following these steps, you can set up a delivery service that integrates smoothly with your restaurant’s operations and helps you expand your reach to a broader customer base.
Expanding Your Food Delivery Offerings: Consider a Ghost Kitchen
One big difficulty with offering food delivery options at your restaurant is figuring out how to keep up with delivery orders, while also staying on top of the customers that are in your restaurant, as well as in your drive-thru if you have one. With so many orders piling in from every channel, and the same amount of kitchen space to fulfill those orders, things can become quite challenging, especially during the busy hours.
Some restaurant businesses, especially those with multiple locations, may already be taking advantage of a ghost kitchen. A ghost kitchen is a kitchen space that doesn’t have a customer-facing storefront. They can be utilized in a number of ways, like initial food prep that then gets delivered to nearby locations for use, for preparing larger catering orders outside of the public storefronts, or to explore the creation of new menu items or specialty dishes. Sometimes these ghost kitchens are attached to public storefronts, and other times they may be a completely separate space.
If you’re looking to expand your delivery options to new locations, or to help separate the workload of deliveries and your public storefronts, a ghost kitchen can be a great way to have a place to prepare delivery orders, while saving on the hassle and cost of having a fully operational storefront.
To learn more about how to expand your delivery options with a ghost kitchen, read more in our blog: Utilizing Ghost Kitchens to Expand Your Restaurant Delivery Offerings
Restaurant Food Delivery Services Work Best with a Quality Restaurant Management Software
Utilizing restaurant food delivery services is a great way to expand your offering, and your profits. But opening the door to food delivery options can present new challenges to your restaurant operations, analytics, and inventory system. In order to seamlessly integrate restaurant food delivery services into your restaurant business, it’s essential to have a world-class restaurant management system in place that can cover all the bases and keep things running smoothly.
A quality restaurant management software must create a comprehensive solution for efficiently running and managing every aspect of your restaurant business, across every location. By integrating your POS system with a proven and efficient restaurant management software like SynergySuite, you’ll be able to integrate delivery services smoothly, and place your restaurant business in a prime position to maximize your profits and reach new heights.
To learn more about how SynergySuite can help you seamlessly manage every aspect of your restaurant operation, request a demo today.
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