restaurant delivery

How to make your restaurant stand out in a delivery world

Wonderful restaurant you’ve got there. Great write up in the local paper. Even better online reviews–and best of all, terrific food. Too bad nobody wants to come in and eat it.

“Nobody” may be overly dramatic for the moment, but only for the moment. Delivery and takeout has been growing 300% faster than dine-in business, with over a quarter of Americans taking out or getting delivery at least once a week. As to the future, you’ll see even fewer of the next generation of customers filling your tables and booths – research shows that by the year 2020 some 40% of millennial restaurant purchases will come via avenues other than dine-in.

Delivery then and now

Once-upon-a-time, restaurants themselves made deliveries. Customers didn’t just receive your food; they partook of your brand, and were more likely to stay loyal from purchase to purchase.

Modern third-party delivery services, while simplifying logistics for restaurants, are just that, third parties. You don’t train them, you don’t outfit them in your logo-laden uniforms and caps – in short, they don’t deliver your brand. People know they ordered fajitas via Door Dash, or lasagna by way of Grub Hub, but when it arrives in an insulated bag with one of those logos on it, do customers remember who it was that cooked that delicious meal, and who they should call next time? Not necessarily – unless you make sure those third-parties deliver more than just your food.

Manage the brand experience

People think of “brand” In terms of logos and colors, but restaurant brands are actually experiences. If customers are used to the quality you provide dining in, will they be equally pleased when the food is brought to their homes? They will if you invest in quality containers that preserve heat, prevent leaks and present your delivered food in the best way possible.

It’s also important to take care that all necessities, from condiments to utensils and napkins, get included with every order. As of 2018, research showed that little more than a third of all delivery customers were satisfied with the state of their delivery upon arrival – meaning there’s plenty of room to stand out from the crowd.

And if you have a distinct brand personality at the restaurant – say your wait staff is known for being fun or funny – send some of that along, too. Print up a humorous quiz or puzzle and stick it in with the food (including a coupon on the back). Does your restaurant have a more sophisticated image? Perhaps you can provide branded tips for having a sophisticated at-home date.

The possibilities are endless – and your imagination needs to be, too.

Make your brand unmistakable

Of course, just because a brand is more than logos and colors doesn’t mean that you can ignore those brand basics. Make sure your complete delivery package, from bags to napkins, carries your name, logo and signature colors loud and proud. And consider making those branded napkins do double duty as promotional inserts, touting meal deals, re-order discounts, or new menu items.

Much to win, much to lose

But what if you simply let a third-party delivery service take over – how bad could it be? A recent study showed that, when delivery customers are dissatisfied with the order, 82% blame the restaurant, not the delivery service. As a result, some organizations are recommitting to in-house delivery. Jimmy John’s recently announced that they will never use third-party services, proclaiming that they don’t trust anyone else to delivery their product.

But for many, getting a piece of what is currently a $45 billion delivery pie requires depending on third parties. That, in turn, requires restaurants to do everything they can to ensure that those services deliver the essence of a their brand along with their food.

Fox5 NY: Some Restaurants Say No to Uber Eats, GrubHub
Restaurant Business Online: How Big Is Third-Party Restaurant Delivery?
Forbes: Chipotle Expands Off-Premise Delivery