The rapid rise of the “click and receive” economy, created largely by online retail titans like Amazon has spilled into the restaurant world. Quickly fading are the days when consumers drive to an eatery, sit down, order and enjoy a leisurely meal. Instead, today’s consumer demands that restaurants come to them, and restaurants everywhere are struggling to figure out an economical way to deliver.

Case in point: According to a 2019 Foodsby “State of Delivery” survey of restaurant owners, more than 95 percent of respondents reported that they believe delivery is an important factor to driving same-store sales for the next year. Projections from global strategy consulting firm L.E.K. concur, which predicts restaurant delivery will grow at more than three times the rate of on-premise sales between 2018 and 2023.

The best restaurant owners are not only paying attention, they’re seeking profitable ways to meet consumers where they are—at home, at work. Anywhere, in fact, other than a restaurant. However, once they turn over their culinary creations to an outsourced driver, many restaurant owners fear losing control over food quality and customer experience, according to the Foodsby survey. Other concerns include lack of ability to forecast when delivery orders will come in and, subsequently, how to schedule labor accordingly. Finally, relying on a third-party delivery service isn’t always a go-to solution because of the expense, which can climb as high as 30 percent of delivery revenue.

Fortunately, there’s a better way. Rather than sending out on-demand delivery orders one or two at a time, some restaurants have begun adopting a bulk delivery model because delivering orders in bulk leverages economies of scale, which can reap huge rewards. Who wouldn’t want to deliver $150 worth of orders from one location, at one time, instead of several $15 orders spread out over time and geography?

While it seems like a simple solution to the ever-pressing delivery dilemma, there’s more to delivering in bulk than simply compiling a bunch of orders and sending them out the door all at once. For the model to work, it’s important to address several key factors first.

Make food deliveries easy for restaurant operators

Most people want to all eat lunch and dinner at about the same time, and restaurateurs are no strangers to lunch and dinner rushes! What that means when adopting a bulk delivery model, however, is that you need to establish a firm timeframe during which you’ll accept pre-orders, rather than on-demand orders. For example, let your customers know you welcome their lunch orders between 8:30-10:30 a.m. This way, you can handle them much like you would a catering arrangement and use that off-peak time to put underused staff to work. If you don’t hold firm to a timeframe for receiving bulk delivery orders, they could very well arrive just as your in-store tables are filling up, placing a strain on your staff, the food quality and the customer experience both in-store and off-site.

Not all menu items are created equally for delivery

Take a good look at your menu to make sure you have items that can be transported and still maintain the quality you and your customer expect. You may need to employ substitutions: cold sandwiches for hot, chips for french fries, for example, or consider alternative packaging methods for certain items. If you’re not confident that anything on your menu will stand the test of transport, consider creating a new, delivery-specific menu.

Take the time to train your customer service team, including drivers

Your drivers are an extension of your restaurant’s brand, which is why they should be trained in customer service skills. Do they show up at the customer’s front door at the time promised? Do they demonstrate professionalism and take pride in your brand and the product they’re delivering? Do they treat the delivery customer in the same quality manner they would an in-store customer? Answers to these questions are just as important for single deliveries as they are for bulk. But, consider that when delivering in bulk, the one person who receives that delivery is representing several, if not dozens of individuals. That one person can become a brand champion – or not – depending on their experience with your driver. 

The 2019 State of Delivery Survey polled 100 restaurant owners and operator, who currently partner with Foodsby.

Since September 2018, Alexander M. Ware has served as President of Foodsby, Inc., a fast-growing meal ordering platform for office buildings. Previously, Ware served as the Interim President, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of Buffalo Wild Wings from 2016 to 2018. From 2012 to 2016, Ware was Executive Chairman of Denver-based MStar Holding Corporation.

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