Partnering smart for delivery

Operators discuss how to find the best third-party services.
delivery bag

With the growing number of options available—and the pressure to add delivery mounting—preparation for a delivery partnership is key. That means asking questions. What are the partner’s standards for drivers? Does using more than one service make sense? Can in-house staff handle a new source of orders? What kind of exposure does the partner bring? The answers will help identify potential benefits and pain points up front.

Take a test drive

For Jeff Zuckerman, CMO of PizzaRev, researching third-party deliverers means personally testing them. “Put the hat on that the guest will have,” he says. “If you’re having frustrations with something, there’s a 100% probability that your guest is going to have the same problem.”

Even after preliminary research and testing, there were brand-specific issues to work out, and the partner’s agility was crucial for PizzaRev. It had to work with its first partner, for example, to get drivers to double-check orders before leaving the restaurant.

Don’t accept the sticker price

Some third-party delivery services are flexible with delivery radius and fees. Mary Aregoni, CEO and founder of Chicago restaurants Saigon Sisters and Bang Chop, says operators can lower their rates with some companies “by having a [partner-branded] widget on your site or going with their lower-tier pricing on marketing.”

Most of the third-party companies prefer when customers order straight from their site—so as not to have to integrate into a restaurant’s ordering system—and operators who include the widget on their website give the delivery provider more visibility.

But the bargains aren’t always for the best. While established brands with a strong following may benefit from a discount on web placement, newer concepts looking to grow their customer base may be hindered by accepting a lower spot on the delivery partner’s website for a lower cost.

Be prepared for the extra power—both man and electrical

Carl Segal, CEO of Roti Modern Mediterranean, is keeping an eye on newer players that can adapt in real time to changing circumstances. “We can ask [our partner] to add 10 more minutes to our delivery time when we’re really busy. That way, the customer has a more realistic expectation,” says Segal. Similarly, Aregoni says some partners allow operators to take her restaurants offline for a short period of time, alleviating pressure on her staff during high-traffic periods.

Many third-party delivery providers’ systems aren’t compatible with operators’ POS systems, requiring extra hardware behind the counter. “Having three tablets on one counter, one fax machine over here and a chit printer there doesn’t really work well,” says Zuckerman. PizzaRev’s solution? More technology. “There are Bluetooth-enabled printers that can print both the chit from orders placed on your restaurant’s website, as well as print orders via multiple Bluetooth connections to the various third-party tablets,” he says.

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