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Steps for expanding delivery service

Question:

We have had a successful run at our grill and have considered expanding to delivery. What steps do we need to take to get started?

– Christine Lo Porto, Owner, Bean Post Pub, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Answer:

As an existing restaurant, the decision to expand to delivery is a bit easier than it would be for a new operation. No doubt you already have a sense of the market demand from fielding, “Do you deliver?” calls or seeing guests double parked outside to pick up their to-go orders.

Since you are in an urban area, beginning delivery may be as easy as bringing on an employee at or above the tipped minimum wage and starting by foot or by bicycle, keeping in mind local regulations such as New York City’s helmet law for bicycle delivery workers. Since you have an existing customer base, let them know about your delivery service and then expand your advertising and promotional efforts to others in the delivery area who may not have thought of you as an option before this new offering.

Some other advice:

Use your vehicle to advertise.  Even when parked outside your pub, an attractive delivery vehicle like Chipshop’s three-wheeled mini or an industrial tricycle will send the message that delivery is now an option.

Start with a utility player. If you are not sure the market will support a full shift of delivery, recruit an employee who can contribute in other ways such as prepping or receiving during downtimes.

Consider an aggregator. There are many multiple restaurant delivery services throughout the country such as Dr. Delivery in DC. They will typically handle sales and delivery for you by charging a commission or charging the patron a delivery fee. If you are not sure the market will support doing your own delivery but want to be sure to offer something, restaurant delivery services can help. 

Finally, don’t let your enthusiasm for this additional distribution mechanism overshadow your commitment to quality food and food safety. Be sure you have the packaging, equipment and speed needed to get the food to your guest at the appropriate temperature and do some quality checks to make sure that your menu items will weather the journey.

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