Is a meal delivery program right for everyone? Not necessarily. It is very controversial in our industry. It’s a rapidly growing part of our business.

In the case of Little Greek Fresh Grill, we are running 15 percent of sales through third party delivery. We have been surprised how much is going on here.

If you decide to establish a program, here are 10 tips to hopefully make the program a success for you.

  • 1. Does your food travel well? If not, maybe don’t sign up for it. You don’t want to risk having unhappy customers who won’t think twice on posting their experiences on social media, such as Yelp.
  • 2. It can be tough on your margins. Delivery companies charge 15–32 percent of your sales.
  • 3. The delivery companies want to charge you the same as your in-store menu prices. Some restaurant companies are raising delivery menu prices to offset the financial hit.
  • 4. Be careful not to do anything to hurt your in-store sales from full-paying customers. It’s not worth the risk of losing this local customer base. Turn off delivery units during your peak in-store traffic times if in-store ticket wait times lag or quality suffers.
  • 5. Do you need to upgrade your to-go packing to maintain the integrity of your food? At Little Greek we did. We have learned from experience.
  • 6. There are regional strengths among the national delivery companies. Find out who is strong in your area. Talk to your friends in the business who have experience here. Even if there’s a price savings but the delivery has a poor track record, do not use those that will not deliver the sales and repeat business.
  • 7. Restaurant companies that have systems without integrated POS systems are struggling to make sure sales are being rung up from the delivery tablets in-store.
  • 8. Franchisees are not happy about paying royalties on the delivery company’s fee. A quandary that needs to be solved.
  • 9. If you decide to go the path of third-party delivery, look at these services as a marketing tool for your stores. Monitor staff to see if customers are asking for it.
  • 10. Delivery sales will only continue to grow. Restaurant executives are scrambling to figure out where this path will lead us. Kudos to Texas Roadhouse who decided to forgo third-party delivery because the customer experience was not up to their standards. Some restaurant companies are finding customer satisfaction with third party delivery companies such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash.

Third-party delivery is a conundrum as well as a murky dilemma. It will continue to be studied and debated in the restaurant industry. Today’s customers demand convenience and time saving. Can you afford to be without it? A good question. Good luck.

Nick Vojnovic is president of Tampa-based Little Greek Fresh Grill, a fast-casual Greek-themed multi-unit with an American influence. This year, Little Greek was named to the 40/40 List by QSR. It currently has 41 locations in six states: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.
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