In-House Restaurant Delivery Service: Perfecting Your Strategy
So, you’ve weighed out your options and decided to keep your restaurant delivery service in-house. This is a great option to help gain brand awareness and ensure your restaurant isn’t overshadowed by third party delivery partners. WebstaurantStore found that 76% of consumers prefer to order directly from the restaurant of their choice, rather than through third-party services.
The same study found that maintaining your own delivery team is also 46% to 50% cheaper than employing the services of third-party delivery services.
So, how do you get started with in-house delivery? What should you budget for? What supplies do you need? We’ll cover all of this and much more.
Budgeting for In-House Restaurant Delivery Service
Since a third-party won’t be cutting into profit margins, in-house delivery services can help boost revenue significantly. At the same time, you should expect to come out of pocket quite a bit to get your in-house delivery business off the ground.
Here are a few items you should expect to budget for:
When you’re managing delivery in-house, it’s crucial to balance both streams of restaurant traffic (dine-in and delivery orders). You’ll first need a POS that integrates with a kitchen display system so the orders get tracked accurately in real-time. The kitchen display system should offer a variety of POS integration options. This way, if you ever decide to swap out your POS, your investment will be protected.
Secondly, your kitchen display system should offer capacity management. Capacity management provides accurate quote times to customers based on current speed of service in the restaurant and not only volume of orders. If dine-in orders pick up, the quoted time provided to customers will take into account everything going on in your restaurant. The actual process of inflating quote times based on kitchen activity is called order throttling. This way, customers receive their orders when expected.
You’ll have a lot to budget when getting started with in-house delivery and restaurant technology can be pretty expensive to purchase. It’s best to find a technology company that offers SaaS pricing. This way, you can pay off your equipment gradually rather than spending a large lump sum all at once.
Delivery Service Supplies
There are several restaurant delivery supply items you’ll need to purchase to get up and running. This could include insulated food delivery bags, individually wrapped plastic cutlery, soufflé/portion cups & lids, take-out containers, to-go bags, delivery menus, etc.
Custom designed delivery service supplies can be more expensive but it provides the opportunity to differentiate your brand. With plenty of restaurants competing to be customers first choice in delivery, this is your chance to create a lasting impression. More restaurants are spending time ensuring their to-go packaging stands out – including IHOP, Red Robin, and Denny’s. For example, Red Robin chose “Red Robin red” food containers to stay consistent with their brand.
In-house restaurant delivery will likely require more in-house staff but will definitely require drivers. Will you hire them as hourly or 1099 employees? Keep in mind, if you are managing their schedule and requiring them to wear restaurant uniforms, they’re considered hourly employees. There are pros and cons to either type of employee but having hourly employees does give you more say in how staff presents themselves in front of customers. All in all, recruiting, hiring, and training a new staff member can cost around $4,000. Will you offer any benefits to your restaurant employees? Offering benefits isn’t prevalent in the restaurant industry; however, it would be a way to retain employees.
Will you be providing a vehicle for your delivery drivers? If they’ll be driving their own vehicle, remember they will be driving around town with your logo on their car. You may want to evaluate their vehicle before they hit the road.
Regardless of if it’s a company or driver-owned car, they’ll need insurance. A driver’s personal insurance usually won’t cover delivery insurance. You’ll want to look into options to insure all delivery drivers cars.
How to Prepare for In-House Restaurant Delivery Service
You know what to budget for but how can you prep your restaurant for in-house delivery service? Here are a few items to take into consideration:
How will customers be able to order delivery from your restaurant? One of the easiest options in the beginning would be to set up a online ordering system on your website. If you have a WordPress website, it’s really simple to add an online ordering plugin through the WooCommerce platform. You will also need to integrate WooCommerce with your POS system. This plugin is a great option because it requires no coding and is a much more affordable option than purchasing an app.
If you choose to use an app, take a look at restaurants that have a successful online food delivery apps such as Jimmy Johns and Panera Bread. Both apps allow you to find a restaurant near you and order on the app. From there, customers have access to an order tracker to see when their order is being created and out for delivery.
Choose Delivery Friendly Technology
Since you’ll need to manage both streams of traffic (dine-in and delivery) choose a kitchen display system that utilizes order throttling and capacity management. These features will take into consideration orders from all channels (in-house and online/delivery) and provide accurate quote times to your guest. Quotes are given based on real-time activity in your restaurant. If there is an unexpected rush, these features will take that into account and adjust the quoted time accordingly. That way, you can balance each guest experience without negatively affecting the other.
If you already have a kitchen display system, see if you can upgrade your current platform to support order throttling and capacity management. This way, your staff won’t need to learn a brand new system.
Food Newsfeed stated that “takeout and delivery account for about 10% of sales overall, up from 8% about two years ago.” You’ll want to determine the most efficient want to prep and package food. You may even consider a separate delivery preparation section.
Start with Easy and Quick to Prepare Items
When you’re getting started offering in-house restaurant delivery service, choose your menu items wisely. You may experience some trial and error when it comes to this. It’s best to have a more focused menu that takes food quality when it’s being transported into consideration. Include items you know will be quick to prepare and keep its taste if it isn’t eaten right away.
Pick Your Packaging
Once you decide on a delivery menu, it’s time to pick out your packaging. Cold and hot food won’t mesh well together in the same container. You’ll want to spend time on picking out the best packaging that will maintain quality.
Follow these tips and your in-house delivery service should be off to a successful start! Just remember to remain patient in the beginning and open to any customer feedback you receive. Offering delivery in your restaurant will take time but will help you keep up with the biggest consumer demand to date.
Want information on building a successful off-premise dining strategy? Listen to our ‘Perfecting Your Off-Premise Dining Strategy’ webinar recording.
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About the Author
Emily Elder was a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity, but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.