For many restaurants, adding the option of online delivery may be something they’ve either been casually considering or maybe just started to implement as an experience. However, with the recent sudden health crisis that COVID-19 has brought, being able to stay open for deliveries has become almost a necessity for many businesses. The good news is, even if you’re starting from scratch, it can be a relatively simple process. However, you want to make sure that you’re still making enough of a profit to stay viable. In this case, you may want to consider going with your own in-house delivery system. And while that may sound daunting, there are plenty of tools available to you that you may not have even known existed. It’s possible to set up delivery in-house in just a few hours in some cases, and it may end up helping to grow your brand and expand your customer base in the process.
Why Should You Keep Delivery In-House?
The most obvious reason to handle your own delivery is quite simply the cost. While third-party apps are inarguably convenient, they drastically eat into your profits. Some studies estimate it can be close to 50% cheaper to run delivery in-house rather than outsourcing that service. With margins that low, sometimes using third-party delivery can be more trouble than it’s worth quite literally. By keeping things in-house, you’re in control. You don’t have to worry about rude or careless drivers who don’t have a vested interest in protecting your brand. And, speaking of branding, you can create your own unique packaging and marketing to expand your visibility further. Also, if you’re lucky enough to be using a point of sale system that integrates with delivery (or offers that option as an add-on), it will integrate with your software seamlessly and require minimal additional training for your employees.
The Alternative: Third-Party Delivery Apps
Restaurant delivery is a competitive business, and while we’ve already briefly discussed that using one of these popular companies will take a big bite out of your profits, it’s still easy to see their appeal. To begin with, they are exceptionally simple to partner with. If you are a busy restaurateur who doesn’t have the time, energy, or know-how to start delivery in-house, you can simply pair with one or multiple services and potentially reach a whole new market. These apps are widely used and can help you reach a broader customer base. They also require very little money upfront if you’re just starting and are low on cash. In short, there’s a reason why these third-party apps are so popular with customers and businesses alike. But while it’s easy to see their appeal, they still might not be the option that ‘s right for you.
Must-Have Tools For Taking Online Orders & Managing Delivery
Point Of Sale App
While you can still technically operate a successful delivery service by simply jotting down orders and hand-delivering them back to your kitchen, a point of sale that comes with or integrates with in-house delivery options can make your life significantly easier. In fact, if you’re just starting out or are currently in business but plan on making delivery a large part of your operation, having a POS with a good delivery integration is almost essential. A quality POS can help you track and manage your orders as they come in, particularly when paired with a Kitchen Display System. This helps give customers accurate delivery times and can help you stay on top of important things, such as your inventory levels.
Online Ordering Tools
If you’ve decided to keep your delivery business in-house, there are some handy options available to you that your POS may already integrate with or that you can easily set up through your website. These companies provide software that is tailor-made for the restaurant industry and can simplify things even more.
- GloriaFood:Â GloriaFood provides free software for restaurants, allowing you to take an unlimited number of orders for no fee. You can easily install a simple widget and be up and ready to sell in a single business day. GloriaFood can even help you set up your website to streamline the delivery process and is available on iOS and Android devices.
- Menufy:Â This is a similar service to GloriaFood in that it offers free software and can help you create a sleek website for online ordering. The service fee is charged to customers, and the restaurant is only on the hook for the processing fees. There are no contracts, and you can be notified of orders on a wide variety of devices and through many different POS companies.
- ChowNow:Â This is another popular online ordering software that can work with your specific brand and logos to create a personalized experience for your customers. ChowNow offers software with zero fees but also has hardware options that you can purchase that can run your delivery orders separate from your in-restaurant orders for added convenience.
There are plenty of other online ordering options available as well, so do a little research to see if one fits best with your specific business.
Using an in-house system for delivery also gives you control over who is handling and delivering your food and who is the face of your restaurant for customers who are ordering from home. These will be an integral part of your delivery business’s success, and there are plenty of things you’ll need to consider to ensure their success. First, you’ll need to decide if you’ll be using a company car or cars for delivery or if you’ll allow your couriers to use their vehicles. Either way, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper insurance. And if your drivers are using their vehicles, you’ll need a way for them to track and log their mileage for reimbursement.
Next, there are some things you’ll want to make sure your online ordering system has, whether you’re using an online ordering service or your POS’s features. Certainly, you’ll want a reliable and accurate navigation system. It’s also valuable to have a delivery tracker, so you can tell where your driver is at any given time. The ability to quickly communicate with drivers is essential as well as having a system that allows for text notifications in case of changes or special requests.
Staffing Concerns With Restaurant Delivery
If your fancy new delivery service is a success, you may also start to experience some growing pains. You don’t want to overwhelm your hard-working staff, so you’ll likely need to hire some additional employees. Along with couriers, you’ll need to make sure that your kitchen is staffed well enough to handle the increase in demand, and you may need to carve out a separate space solely for online orders to help eliminate confusion. It may also be beneficial to have an employee whose entire job is to oversee and handle the online ordering process, ensuring that orders are being received correctly and filled and distributed in a timely fashion.
Other Logistical Considerations
We’ve already touched on a handful of things you’ll need to consider for your delivery business, from essential tools to simple conveniences. But here’s a quick recap of things to look for when you’re implementing this feature for your restaurant.
- KDS:Â A Kitchen Display System can alleviate numerous headaches in any restaurant, but it’s especially valuable when your restaurant also handles deliveries. A system that receives and organizes orders directly can dramatically cut down on errors and help your kitchen prepare orders in a timely and efficient fashion.
- Dedicated Kitchen Space:Â You may be operating with limited space in your kitchen, but if you can swing it, setting aside an area specifically for online orders can alleviate some headaches and make sure that orders aren’t getting confused.
- Packaging:Â This is something that might be easy to skimp on; however, the way you package your delivery options can be vitally important. It’s an opportunity for you to brand and market, and it can be easy and inexpensive to order packaging products with your logo. It’s also essential to make sure that you have durable packaging that can withstand a drive and maybe even a way to keep the items hot or cold, depending on the order. You want to make sure your food is presentable and as good as it would be in your restaurant to avoid poor reviews. You’ll also need to think about what to include in delivery orders, such as napkins, utensils, and portable condiments.
- Payment Options:Â You’ll definitely want to lock down how people ordering online will pay you and what types of payments you’ll accept. The ability to prepay online will help you track your money and tips easily while equipping your couriers with a card or chip reader provides an added level of convenience. Also, with restrictions from COVID-19, setting up the option to take payments and drop off deliveries without contact with customers could be an important feature that allows you to continue making sales in difficult times.
Add An In-House Delivery Option To Keep Customers Happy & Business Rolling In
While online ordering and delivery options have been rapidly growing in the restaurant industry over the past few years, we are in a time when having that feature may actually be essential for keeping your business afloat. It may seem a bit daunting if you’re just getting started, but remember, you have options. While third-party apps are undoubtedly easy to utilize, you may not end up receiving the type of return that can significantly boost your business. In that case, going with in-house delivery might be the most economical decision. There are plenty of tools at your disposal to help you.
See what your POS system offers for in-house delivery or what companies it integrates with. If you already have an online presence, getting started can be as simple as installing a widget or downloading an app. And many of these products, whether it’s the POS company itself or an online ordering service, can walk you through the setup process as well.
Looking for more resources to help small businesses navigate the coronavirus pandemic? Check out our Coronavirus Survival Guide For Restaurants, or read a variety of other articles on our Coronavirus resource hub.
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