Stephanie Izard gives restaurants a voice inside DoorDash

The chef and restaurateur helped shape the delivery company’s new restaurant tech support program.
DoorDash bag
Izard is working with DoorDash on ways to improve the delivery experience among other initiatives. / Photograph courtesy of DoorDash

In the five months since she became DoorDash’s first chief restaurant advisor, Stephanie Izard has sought to inject an operator’s perspective into the delivery company’s strategy.

The James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurateur has helped shape DoorDash’s new merchant experience partner program, which will give its restaurant partners a single point of contact for resolving tech issues.

In meetings with DoorDash, Izard emphasized the need to make the service both personalized and fast. If something goes wrong in the middle of service, she said, restaurants “want to reach out and talk to someone, and talk to them quickly.” 

That means communication will be mobile-based, and restaurants won’t have to deal with an automated attendant asking them to press 1 on their keypad, Izard said.

A DoorDash rep visited one of her restaurants, Little Goat, during a busy Sunday and witnessed first-hand how hectic things can be. If a tech problem pops up in the middle of that, “you need that response time to be seconds,” Izard said.

The program won't be quite that fast: A restaurant’s contact will respond to its request within one business day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, DoorDash said.

By the end of the year, every U.S. restaurant that uses the company’s Marketplace or Drive products will have a dedicated support person.

Izard has also been participating in focus groups with operators and DoorDash leaders that have yielded some new ideas. One conversation was about ways to improve the delivery experience, particularly for higher-end restaurants. In the future, she said, DoorDash might offer different levels of delivery service, similar to Uber’s various ride-hailing options. 

“We all kind of dove into that where, do you want an UberX or do you want an Uber Black?” she said, adding that there is “still a lot to work through” on that initiative.

Overall, she said, those meetings have been positive, though restaurants are still concerned about delivery fees. Some worry about how much their customers have to pay for the service; others are focused on the fees they’re charged. In April, DoorDash introduced a tiered pricing plan that allows restaurants to choose their rate in exchange for varying levels of marketing support.

“It’s never going to be perfect. It’s delivery,” Izard said. “You can’t get something to someone’s house without it costing more than a restaurant somehow.” 

“Part of it is just having those conversations and having some transparency.” 

Izard will be chief restaurant advisor for a year, after which someone else will take her place. Her goal is to continue bringing new programs to life as well as come up with ways to do more philanthropy work. 

Along with the merchant experience partner program, DoorDash announced three other new initiatives on Wednesday as it kicked off its Main Street Strong Conference:

  • Sponsored listings: The new advertising tool allows restaurants to push their brands to the top of relevant search results. They will pay DoorDash only for orders placed through the ad, and not for mere clicks or impressions. Restaurants can set this up themselves in their merchant portals.
  • Disaster relief: The company is offering $1 million in grants to independent restaurants affected by natural disasters during the next year. Each grant will be $10,000 each. More details are here.
  • Mobile app for operators: The DoorDash Business Manager app will be available “in the coming months.” Operators can use it to track live orders and view other real-time data from wherever they are. It’s compatible with iOS and Android.

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