Should you sign up to a home delivery service?

Whether it’s Deliveroo, UberEats, or Menulog, one thing is for sure – they’re changing the game for restaurants and cafes. But getting the most out of these services takes some planning.

Whether we’re ordering lunch to our desks, feeding friends on a night in, or simply want a night off from cooking, we’re becoming increasingly quick to order food with a few taps of the thumb.

For venue owners though, there’s a lot to consider before signing up to a home delivery service.

Researching the subject can be quite confusing and there’s a few important questions to consider before signing up.


Is there a demand?


There’s no point offering home delivery if you’re not going to get the orders, so research is essential to make sure the demand is there.

Researching what your customers want is a great way to start.

Speak to your staff at the venue.  Have customers asked for delivery? Are you getting comments on social media about home delivery? Do your competitors offer the service and do you truly believe that you’ve lost customers because you don’t?

Perhaps you could even offer a small survey to customers, asking them to share their feedback on the idea.

If you’re still unsure, some home delivery companies will allow you to conduct a trial on their platform.

This way you can see how the process works for you, whether you seem to be reaching a new pool of customers and whether your venue is ready to start offering home delivery full time or not. 

READ: How to create a strong customer base from day one


Can you afford it?


Many venues assume that a busy week with home deliveries will see their revenue skyrocket, but sadly, this is not always the case.

Many venue operators have noted that once they introduced home delivery, their patronage significantly dropped.  The customers that would normally have visited the venue now just ordered from home.

Even if you have the same amount of orders as you did before starting deliveries, you have to factor in the costs associated with home delivery service which can be up to 35 percent of your order total, slashing your profit margins.

On top of that, some delivery services stipulate that it is a restaurant’s job to deal with refund requests for damaged or missing items.

This not only involves refunding items that may have been lost or damaged, but also requires significant time and diligence from staff to check orders and process refunds, adding even more strain on a busy venue.

READ: Why you shouldn’t base your business on one platform

On the flip-side, many venues believe they could not afford to operate if it wasn’t for home delivery.

In fact, some operators run the delivery side of their business from a different location, either as a “Dark Kitchen” or from a different entrance.

This effectively keeps the two sides of the business ‘separate’ and helps with staff allocation and management of the process.

This business model can help reduce errors, and perhaps most importantly guarantees your dine-in customers aren’t disturbed. 


Will your dishes travel well?


There’s a huge difference between serving food on a warmed plate straight from the pass and having it put in a box and pedalled across town.

The fact is, some dishes just don’t travel well and it’s essential to work out whether your menu can be adapted to suit home delivery.

Think risotto, gnocchi, and foods which have a tendency to become stodgy if they’re left warm.

Also, home delivery robs you of the opportunity to wow a diner with a dish’s presentation when you can’t arrange it on a plate – so dishes that get great reviews in a restaurant will be less impressive upon delivery.

This means you need to put your thinking caps on to adapt your menu to succeed.

That may mean that you are only able to offer a smaller number of dishes from your menu or that you spend a little extra on customised packaging that works to ensure your dish is at its best on arrival.

Part of this audit process is also understanding the flow of orders in the kitchen, when they’re picked up, and how far they’re likely to travel.

Considering these factors will help you identify any issues, particularly with regards to the temperature of the dish when it arrives at its destination – this being one of the biggest complaints when it comes to home delivery.

 

There’s no quick answer when it comes to home delivery and whether it’s right for your venue or not.

It requires careful research and even some trial and error.

But with the right approach and management, adding a home delivery option can be a great boost to your business’s reputation and bottom line.