Here are five things to consider when launching your delivery service:
Launching a delivery service for a restaurant business can be a challenge, particularly if it is new territory. Finding the right mix of labour vs demand and ensuring that everything runs smoothly can be difficult, and in a competitive market, room for error is slight. Preparing your business for a delivery offering is important, and special care needs to be given to planning and execution. The easy option is to use a third-party delivery service, but these are provided at a significant cost both in terms of margin-erosion and data ownership.
1. Choose your point of sale system carefully
The market is flooded with point of sale technologies, all of whom claim to be the best in the business. The pitfall for delivery restaurants however, is that few POS systems offer the kind of functionality required for efficient management of delivery drivers. All too often, POS systems are designed with full-service restaurants in mind, only to be modified after the fact to cater for QSR and delivery operations.
It is important to use a POS system that is designed specifically for delivery. This means that it should have a dedicated module to aggregate, dispatch and track delivery orders, with the ability to recall, reprint and display information on the fly. It should also cater for the cash-out of drivers finishing shifts, and ideally should employ some manner of order tracking. It is important to note that some POS systems that advertise themselves as being for the restaurant industry don’t cater for delivery service at all, instead just focusing on the table/waitress model, so it is important to search for this functionality before committing to a purchase. Your POS will become the centerpiece of an efficient delivery operation, so it is vital to have the correct tools at your disposal.
2. Manage your fleet
Before launching a delivery service, gather a team of reliable drivers around you. Too often, businesses will start with a single driver, and during a sudden surge in orders, they find themselves caught short, resulting in long wait times for customers and a rise in complaints. Typically, if a customer has a very poor experience when ordering food for delivery, they will be reluctant to offer repeat business. Pick a date to launch, and have a solid team in place to cater for a busy delivery service from the off. It is always possible to send drivers home during lean times, and it is better to be ready for a surge should it happen.
Take time to identify the periods of the week that are likely to be busy, and roster drivers accordingly. Always have a large pool of drivers to draw from-it is good to have cover for individuals who miss shifts for whatever reason-holes in the delivery team mean disgruntled customers who have been made to wait longer for their food.
3. Look Smart
A great way to showcase your brand is to have beautifully branded uniforms. Remember-a delivery driver is often the only physical interaction a customer may have with your brand, and a strict uniform policy will ensure that your business is well represented and projects a professional image. Branded polo shirts, jackets and caps along with heat bags bearing your logo go a long way towards promoting a slick brand image that will resonate.
Ensuring cleanliness is also hugely important. No customer wants to accept their food from a grubby, unkempt driver-they are handling food after all, and clean, well dressed drivers gives the correct image. It is vital to ensure that your uniform policy is strictly enforced, if managers let this slip, then it will result in drivers not presenting for work in the correct clothing and if this is allowed to persist then uniforms will become an afterthought. A simple sign saying ‘no jacket, no job’ should suffice, and it is important to create a culture of drivers adhering to policy from the beginning.
If budgeting for uniforms is an issue, new drivers can pay a deposit (returnable upon return of the uniform). This will offset the cost of the exercise and ensure that drivers take good care of their uniform items.
Lastly-uniformed drivers are a good source of free advertising. It is a positive image for your business to have a fleet of well branded delivery drivers being seen around your area. It shows that your food is popular and that you take a professional approach to your delivery operation.
4. Keep it hot!
Managing multiple delivery orders with a limited supply of drivers is quite an artform. You should aim to ensure the integrity of the product as much as possible, whilst also ensuring short wait times for your customers. This can be achieved by limiting the number of orders a driver is allowed to take in a single outing, grouping orders by area, and ensuring that the food is kept warm right up until it leaves the store. If your brand gains a reputation for quick delivery of hot food, this will put you in a position to compete directly with larger chain-store brands.
Remember the two most common complaints when it comes to delivery: ‘too late or too cold’. Focus on these two pain points, work to eliminate both and you will find yourself with a well run delivery operation that will be popular with your customers. You wouldn’t serve sub-standard food in your place of business, so why do it with delivery.
5. Use metrics and smart Customer Service
If you use a suitable POS system, it will provide you with all kinds of useful information when it comes to delivering stellar customer care. Your POS should provide information on delivery times, busy periods, lapsed customers and several other performance metrics that will enable you to fine tune your operation and offer great follow-up customer service in the event of a mishap. Delivery running late? Let your system alert you to this and place a courtesy call to your customer to let them know-they will thank you for this and it will breed confidence in your brand.
Being able to measure your busy delivery periods by order volume and value is crucial to how you plan forward and equip yourself with all that you need to meet demand while delivering a great experience for your customers. Having complete control will put you ahead of your competition and help you build a loyal following.
A good delivery service is an extension of your business, and is relatively easy to orchestrate if the correct preparation is undertaken beforehand. By managing costs and enforcing strict rules with your fleet, you can afford to bypass expensive third party portals and retain ownership of your customers and operations.