This article was originally published on Feb. 8, 2017. It was updated on April 8, 2020.
Delivery orders were once a thing of myth. Most restaurants didn’t offer food for delivery, and if they did, it was viewed as a special perk. It wasn’t expected or common.
But with the rise of on-demand and on-call services, delivery turned into a necessity for restaurants. Customers began to expect and demand it. In fact, over 60% of American consumers order delivery or takeout at least once a week.
So if you’re a small business owner in the restaurant or food industry, it’s definitely time to consider adding food delivery services to your options.
Is your restaurant ready to offer food for delivery?
To help you decide if your restaurant is ready to offer food for delivery, we’ll consider the following questions:
- Will your food travel well?
- How accurate are your in-house restaurant orders?
- How will you set limits on your delivery options?
- Do you have the right packaging for food delivery?
- How will you accept delivery orders?
- Should you outsource your food delivery?
Let’s take a closer look at each question below.
Will your food travel well?
Some foods quickly decrease in quality if they aren’t eaten right away. Look at your menu and consider whether or not your food will travel well during delivery service.
- Will it keep its taste?
- Will it become soggy or lose its consistency?
- Will it maintain an optimal temperature for taste and food safety?
- Will it reheat well?
As you create your restaurant’s delivery menu, only include items you’re sure will keep their integrity during delivery.
How accurate are your in-house restaurant orders?
When someone is served the wrong dish in a restaurant, they can send it back.
As you consider if your restaurant is equipped to make food deliveries, take a look at the accuracy of your in-house service.
If you regularly have customers returning incorrect orders, you must focus on improving that process before jumping into food delivery. Otherwise, you risk quickly ruining your restaurant’s reputation.
How will you set limits on your delivery options?
As you decide if your restaurant is ready to offer food for delivery, consider the area and population surrounding your establishment.
Determine how many potential customers you want to reach and then draw a boundary for where you will deliver.
Make a map of where you will cut off service, and decide what type of delivery you will offer. Keep the following options in mind:
- Delivery routes that take multiple orders at a time.
- Back-and-forth delivery where drivers leave every time a new order is placed.
- Pre-scheduled drop-offs that are only available with an advanced call.
Setting clear boundaries and guidelines for delivery options will help you run a more streamlined service if and when you decide to launch.
Do you have the right packaging for food delivery?
Before you decide to offer food for delivery, you need the right packaging. You might not be able to rely on the to-go containers you currently provide to guests in the restaurant.
As you shop for what you need, remember that you should:
- Match your food containers to the quality of your food. Don’t use cheap styrofoam for high-end foods.
- Consider the temperature of the foods. Don’t mix cold items with hot items, and decide if you need different types of packaging for cold and hot foods.
- Use insulated delivery bags. Have a heat-insulated bag for hot foods and cool-insulated containers or coolers for foods that need to remain chilled.
Don’t rush through this step. Carefully consider how to get the best product to your customers.
Using the right food packaging will help keep the integrity of the food, which leads to happier customers and a more successful delivery service.
How will you accept delivery orders?
Part of the appeal of food delivery is its simplicity. Customers want to easily order and quickly receive their food. So, make sure you can set up a streamlined ordering process.
Most people prefer to order from their computer rather than the phone. Check out services like ChowNow that can set up ordering systems on your website.
Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing lets you add ChowNow to your website with a couple of clicks.
Should you outsource your food delivery?
Finally, decide if it’s better for you to outsource the delivery process. You can stick to what you do best — making food and serving in-house guests — when you hire a service to deal with the logistics of delivery for you.
Some services are local and cater to specific cities while others are spreading nationally. A few of the most popular service partners include:
Search for available partners in your area, and then vet them to see which works best for your restaurant. Ask the following questions:
- How much money does the vendor take?
- Will they help promote your restaurant? If so, how do they do it? Are you responsible for contributing?
- How many customers do they currently have?
- What is their typical delivery turn-around promise? Does it meet your expectations? Will you be able to meet their expectations?
- How do they handle incorrect orders or delivery complaints?
- How do they accept and process food orders? Through you or their own app? Will it integrate with your internal system(s)?
Before you form a partnership with a food-delivery service provider, make sure your goals align and that the company is a fit for you, them and your customers.
Food for delivery — the way of the future
Up until a few years ago, it was not unusual for a restaurant to exclusively offer dine-in experiences. But times have changed, and now food delivery is something that customers expect. So use these considerations to help you prepare to join the on-demand restaurant community, and start giving customers what they want, right when they want it.