Contracting with third-party delivery providers, like Postmates or DoorDash, has become increasingly popular with restaurants. Some online-ordering sites, such as GrubHub (with its acquisition last year of DiningIn and Restaurants on the Run), also are starting to add their own delivery drivers. Uber, the on-demand, everyman taxi service, even announced last year that it would start offering restaurant delivery.
Using another company for delivery can free up employees so they stay focused on food preparation and customer service, says Brian Farris, vice president of on-demand for Focus Brands, the Atlanta-based parent of Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s.
Focus Brands partnered last summer with San Francisco-based Postmates to do deliveries from all six of its restaurant concepts, including Cinnabon and Carvel, in select locations and markets.
The company was careful in selecting a third-party delivery partner, he says—a task handled at the home office, rather than letting franchisees choose locally. “We had to make sure our guests would be getting a good experience from beginning to end,” Farris says. “You need to vet your partners well, as with everything. Make sure their delivery practices work well for you. On-demand works best for us.”
Focus Brands chose Postmates after a pilot test demonstrated satisfactory delivery times. “By working together as Focus Brands, we are more efficient and can create even more value on both sides of the partnership,” Farris says.
Third-party delivery is not a flawless system, but so far the process has integrated smoothly with Tender Greens’ operations, says Christina Wong, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles-based fast-casual salad concept. Like Focus Brands, Tender Greens is using Postmates for deliveries.
“There are still opportunities for mistakes, human error on both sides and growing pains, such as an item being forgotten or a driver getting lost and unable to find the address,” Wong says. “But orders come in and out just like regular pickup orders, and it’s not a huge operational lift to execute.”
Something else to consider: Third-party operators develop their own consumer databases. And customers who use those websites also get an eyeful of the competition when making choices. The loyalty for some customers is not to a particular restaurant but to the delivery provider—a drawback in some restaurateurs’ eyes.
“People are finding us on the third-party website,” says Wing Zone’s Ali. “When they are hungry and do a search for food, they do not go to our website, they go to GrubHub.com or another third-party site.”