Whether you have been doing delivery since you opened, or you have recently launched a delivery program due to a global pandemic, there are five incredibly common mistakes we see restaurateurs making.
- Selling food that does not travel well.
When your chef puts up a plate in the kitchen, you know that food will be on the table in your dining room in just a couple minutes. When you pack food for delivery, it may be 30-40 minutes before someone sits down to eat it. A menu item that is amazing just after it is prepared can be unappetizing or inedible after 30 minutes in a box.
Dressed salads will wilt, burger buns will get soggy, and fried foods will soften. Take a hard look at your menu and remove or modify items that do not travel well such as fried foods, dressed salads, or intricately plated entrees.
- Using packaging that does not protect your food.
Restaurant owners who spend days selecting the right plates for the dining room will turn around and pack food for delivery in the same containers they use for leftovers. So many kitchens will prepare and pack food for delivery in the exact same way as they would for their dining room, without considering what will happen to that food over the next half hour.
Select packaging carefully for each menu item to preserve it in the best way. Pack condiments, garnishes, and sides separately from the main item. Deconstruct your burger so each item stays fresh, the bun is toasty warm, the lettuce and tomato is crisp and cool, the patty is hot and juicy, and the fries are hot and crisp. Hot food should stay hot and cold food should stay cold, just like in your dining room.
- Paying too much to a delivery company
The big delivery services offer to make it easy for you to start a delivery program but take as much as 35% of each sale. There are very few restaurants that can afford to give up that much without raising prices through the roof. Carefully select your delivery partners and platforms and negotiate to get the best deal for yourself. Review your finances and set a number for what you can afford to pay for delivery services.
Consider doing delivery yourself with your own staff. Check with your insurance company to make sure your staff and any vehicles used are covered by your policy when they are out on a delivery. Paying your own hourly people can be significantly cheaper than giving up 35% of each sale. Check with your POS company to see if they have an online ordering and delivery module that integrates with what you are already using.
- Not considering the at-home dining experience
People eat differently at home than they do in most restaurants. Your delivery offering should reflect this. You don’t have a server in your guests’ homes taking care of all of their needs as they arise so you have to think everything through in advance. Think about what that at-home dining experience is like and try to make it as easy and pleasurable as possible. Provide everything your guests may need: utensils, condiments, napkins, etc.
Put together some of your bestselling items into family dinner packages or take-and-bake meals with detailed instructions for storing, heating, and finishing. Create cook-at-home meal kits for guests to make their restaurant favorites in their own kitchens.
- Making it difficult or unpleasant to order
Always begin with understanding what the guest’s experience is. Is it easy to find your menu online? Is it easy to navigate through your menu, find your favorites, make selections and change them? Can the guest communicate their dietary needs or allergy concerns? Do they feel like you are taking care of them throughout the ordering process?
If you are taking orders over the phone, is your staff trained on how to talk about the menu, guide customers through the process, and provide excellent phone service? Do you have a standard set of questions to ask to make sure your guest’s needs are met? Train your staff on phone etiquette and how to sell over the phone. This is your chance to make an impression and provide some hospitality, even if it is only remotely.
Delivery is a lifeline right now for both restaurants and customers. It’s a different experience from dining in, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable and profitable. Through a focus on the guest experience, providing hospitality from a distance, careful planning and execution you can avoid these common delivery mistakes and deliver an outstanding experience at home.