Panera Bread is officially grabbing the wheel of its delivery program. The fast casual announced it plans to hire 10,000 new employees by the end of 2017 to expand delivery services at more of its 2,000-plus units.
The initiative will affect 35 to 40 percent of total locations. Panera introduced delivery in early 2015, and currently offers the service at around 15 percent of its system (20 percent at company-owned stores).
“Panera is doing for delivery what we did for quick service—creating an elevated guest experience end-to-end,” says Ron Shaich, Panera founder, chairman and CEO, in a statement. “In many places across the country, all that’s available for delivery is pizza or Chinese food. We’re closing the gap in delivery alternatives and creating a way for people to have more options for real food delivered to their homes and workplaces.”
Seventy-five percent of the jobs for Panera Delivery will go to drivers, Panera president Blaine Hurst told Reuters. Hurts also said the program adds around $5,000 to weekly sales at each restaurant—a boost of around 10 percent. The other 25 percent of hires will work in-store, as the program, unlike some of the third-party delivery setups of quick-service chains, will be run by Panera.
The company will vet its own drivers and inspect them on a regular basis. And in Uber-like fashion, Panera will let its drivers use their own cars, inspecting the driving records, insurance, and vehicles of the employees. Panera says the drivers "with daytime hours and competitive wages, are bringing a new level of enthusiasm and delight to customers accustomed to a more traditional delivery experience."
The digital and mobile ordering-based service will provide lunch and dinner to officers, hospitals, campuses, and homes. The company says it will typically deliver within an eight-minute drive of a restaurant and generally deliver between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week, with a minimum of a $5 menu purchase and a delivery fee of $3 in most locations.
The chain also created an order tracking system with Bringg technology to let consumers follow meals and see a projected arrival time. A map of the driver’s route and a photograph of the driver will also be presented. CNBC reported that Hurst expects each unit to hire between seven and 12 drivers and staff members at a cost around $25,000, with hiring and labor factored in.
Panera, which agreed to be purchased by JAB Holding in a $7.5 billion deal in early April, told CNBC it forecasts delivery adding $250,000 per year to each store’s annual revenue of $2.6 million.
“For the first time, Panera Delivery is making it possible for us to hand deliver our great food directly to people where they work and live,” says Blaine Hurst, president, Panera Bread, in a statement. “For us, hiring our own drivers was the only way we could ensure that our delivery guests get the same high quality experience they have come to expect from our bakery cafes.”