It’s easy to see the appeal of third-party delivery: Restaurants simply sign up and can quickly offer delivery to convenience-minded customers without ever hiring drivers or procuring vehicles. But even as third-party has transformed into a multi-billion-dollar business, many restaurant operators remain frustrated with the high fees charged by those services and struggle to make sense of the tight margins.
Little Greek Fresh Grill has hiked its prices on delivery orders to help offset the high fees charged by third-party partners. Two stores have tested in-house delivery services, but most don’t have the volume to support such infrastructure, says company president Nick Vojnovic. So the corporate team is recommending franchisees sign up with third-party delivery providers—albeit reluctantly.
“It’s kind of a margin killer,” Vojnovic says. “They’re keeping 32 percent of the money. In the restaurant business, your margins are maybe 15 or 20 percent, so that’s kind of killing it.”
Similar dynamics have driven Wayback Burgers to build its own delivery solution. Senior vice president Pat Conlin wouldn’t reveal many details about Wayback’s upcoming program, which the company planned to unveil to franchisees this fall, but he expects the in-house solution will wean the burger chain off third-party vendors.
“We’ve been looking at all kinds of alternatives to the third-party guys. I’ve been working for the last four to five months on our own alternative to a delivery solution that we think is going to be pretty significant,” Conlin says. “We think it will be a game-changer for the delivery business.”
The 150-unit chain is motivated by better controlling the delivery experience and avoiding the steep fees charged by third-party services, which generally range between 20 and 30 percent, Conlin says.
One way to realize savings is by working with only those systems that integrate into a restaurant’s existing POS system, says Justin McCoy, vice president of marketing for Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs. Third-party delivery providers charge a premium for recruiting customers through their sites and apps. But Cousins Subs worked to integrate third-party delivery through the company’s existing website.