If diners aren’t asking a favorite spot about starting a restaurant delivery service, odds are they will soon. Thanks to mobile apps and dwindling delivery charges, dinner in is no longer limited to pizza or sesame chicken, and consumers are pushing for more options.
Various app-forward food delivery services like Grubhub, UberEATS, Postmates, EatStreet and Caviar continue to move into new markets and restaurants, expanding their delivery areas in response to increasing consumer demand. Even Facebook is getting in on the action, according to Eater.
But is your restaurant ready to start a delivery service? Consider these four factors before digging in.
1. Menu Matters and Container Concerns
Customers want the same culinary experience at home that they’d have in a restaurant. This means food needs to arrive fresh and at the proper temperature.
Your restaurant’s executive or research and development (R&D) chef needs to be involved from the beginning to ensure ideal customer experience from kitchen to couch. Some recipes may require reformulating to withstand extra handling and service delay. And other items may be excluded from the delivery menu altogether.
Consumer concern collides with convenience when it comes to takeout containers, so choose consciously and test thoroughly. Is the container microwave safe? Is it biodegradable? Can it be recycled? Fresh food may need vents or sturdier material to survive the journey from kitchen to doorstep.
Some dishes travel better than others, so it might make sense to put some ingredients in separate containers for customers to combine on arrival.
2. Technology Boosts Delivery Orders
Your existing point of sale (POS) system is likely in need of an upgrade to handle an influx of delivery orders. It needs to ensure the orders are flagged separately from the dine-in crowd to avoid logistical confusion. A good system will also incorporate order throttling, which makes it possible to slow the pace of orders hitting the kitchen during peak times.
Mobile and online ordering apps are rapidly replacing phone-in orders. Apps are convenient, allow diners to customize for dietary restrictions and never forget to up-sell.
Restaurant owners might be surprised to find they qualify for significant R&D Tax Credits. “Research and development” applies to developing and implementing new technology, food science and packaging. The same proprietary systems, cooking techniques or sustainability programs they use to incorporate in-house delivery could result in tax savings.
3. Streamline Space and Staffing
Cancellations, empty dining rooms and labor costs have long been issues for dine-in restaurant profitability. Offering delivery helps flip the equation. In time, this may lead you to remodel sections of your dining room to create separate assembly and storage areas for delivery orders.
While you may not need servers in the dining room during bad weather, delivery orders require customer service and packing. This is where big data works in many small ways because modern POS dashboards show everything at a glance — including checking labor reports and ordering against weather or season. You may need less staff in the dining room at 5 p.m. but extra hands at the carryout station to run orders out curbside.
4. Partner with a Third Party
While controlling the customer experience from door to door is preferable, partnering with a service like Grubhub will help you reach a broader delivery customer base quickly.
Linh is a senior tax accountant at Aprio, which she joined three years ago. She has a decade of professional experience after earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Georgia State University.
Questions about starting an in-house delivery service? Contact Linh Guy, senior tax accountant, at 770-353-5090.