In an age defined by convenience and speed, the quick-service industry is experiencing a transformative shift in the way it serves customers. Third-party delivery services have emerged as game-changers, providing an additional digital sales channel redefining the dynamics of how quick-service restaurants operate, compete, and connect with their customers. However, the expansion of third-party delivery services is a double-edged sword which comes with challenges that need to be considered and managed.


For quick-service restaurants, third-party delivery services offer an opportunity to increase revenue and tap into new customer segments. With companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub at the forefront, consumers now have the power to enjoy their favorite quick-service meals from anywhere by seamlessly placing orders and within minutes receiving hot, fresh food delivered to their doorstep. This includes those who prefer to dine at home and individuals in areas that may not have access to physical locations. The convenience and broad reach of third-party platforms make it possible for quick-service restaurants to expand their market share without significant capital investment.


While third-party delivery has many benefits, it has also introduced its own set of challenges:

1. Brand Experience: Quick-service restaurants have spent years perfecting the in-store dining experience. The challenge now is to translate that experience to customers’ homes through third-party deliveries. The restaurant will have no direct interaction with the individual who ordered the food. Maintaining brand consistency on the front-end with the partner’s app and on the back end with the partner’s driver is a challenge.

2. Operational Capacity: Third-party delivery services increase orders and put additional strain on a restaurant during peak periods like the Friday lunch rush. A restaurant must ensure wait times for in-person customers and drivers remain under control and acceptable.

3. Order Accuracy: Errors in orders lead to a negative customer experience and, ultimately, loss of business. Restaurants need to implement effective quality control measures to ensure accuracy during the delivery process.

4. Quality Control: Ensuring the food delivered through third-party services maintains its quality and temperature during transportation is a complex task. Any discrepancies in quality can lead to customer dissatisfaction and affect a restaurant’s reputation.

Building the Right Program

There are many things to consider; it’s important to prioritize and focus on what you can control since you do not control what your third-party partner’s mobile app looks like.

  1. Brand Experience: Ensure that your restaurant appears correctly in the app with the right location, hours, menu, pricing, and order customization options.
  2. Operational Capacity: Determine if there are certain periods of time you do not offer third-party delivery because you lack the staff or kitchen capacity to support the increased orders.
  3. Order Accuracy: Be prepared to adjust your menu if you run out of a certain ingredient.
  4. Quality Control: Consider if there are certain items or customization options you do not offer because they are time intensive or may not travel well such as hot coffee or a frozen milkshake.

When the order arrives in the restaurant, you need to prioritize the order and pass it to your kitchen. Customers expect quick and timely deliveries. Ideally. The food order will be completed, bagged, and ready for the driver to take the moment the driver arrives. If the food is ready earlier, then you risk it becoming soggy or cold. If the food is not ready, then the driver may decide to cancel their pickup.

  1. Brand Experience: Quick-service restaurants that can optimize delivery times by streamlining operations, utilizing data analytics to predict peak demand, and offering real-time tracking through third-party apps can gain a competitive edge.
  2. Operational Capacity: Consider integrating third-party delivery apps with your Point of Sale (POS), eliminating the need to manually re-enter the order, reducing errors.
  3. Order Accuracy: Ensure easy pick up by including clear pick-up instructions in the app and using physical signage at the restaurant. Make sure that an order in multiple bags or with an additional item (e.g. a drink) is clear for the driver.
  4. Quality Control: Innovations in packaging, including heat-retaining containers and spill-proof solutions, have become central to ensuring customers receive their orders in the best possible condition.

Quick-service restaurants using third-party delivery services must understand the impact. The increased revenue and reach offered by these platforms cannot be ignored. However, neither can the increased complexity this sales channel introduces. The key to success lies in addressing these challenges while innovating and adapting to the changing landscape.

As the quick-service industry evolves, striking the right balance between cost-efficiency, quality, and experience will be paramount. Those who successfully navigate this transformative era will be well-positioned to thrive in the fast-paced world of quick-serve restaurants.

An adaptable technology leader & executive bringing almost 20 years of consulting experience, Alex Parker specializes in building & operationalizing technology to transform businesses and unlock new capabilities that deliver increased value. Passionate about leading, and scaling teams to solve meaningful problems surrounded by positively, Alex boasts a successful track record of improving people (culture), processes, and technologies across multiple industries including Retail, QSR, Healthcare, Consumer Products, FinTech, Oil & Gas, Insurance, and Federal Government.

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