The on-demand world has changed the landscape of many industries, and is pushing more restaurants into offering food delivery. While some stores may struggle with concept of a growing “external” clientele at the expense of in-person dining, the reality is that delivery is increasing net sales, and could account for 11% of all restaurant revenue within the next couple of years (to the tune of $32 billion). In an industry that can often stay static, this growth opportunity is one that can’t be ignored.

Adopting food delivery in a traditional restaurant format can be challenging, and may seem downright inconvenient at the start. But the potential can certainly make the effort of navigating new technology, employee training, and operational adjustments worthwhile. Plus, if you already offer take-out services, the extra step of delivery (either in-house or via 3rd-party) can increase your reach and bring you a new loyal customer base.

Many restaurants have jumped on board to meet this growing demand. Here are some tips to help you get started and successfully launch your delivery service.

Designate Delivery Space

While in-house dining prep space may technically work for preparing delivery orders, the overlap could be problematic for operations. Designate space specifically for delivery to streamline operations, and prepare staff that it may cut into existing prep space.

Optimize Technology

Still rockin’ that POS from 2003? If you can upgrade, it may be worth it store-wide. But if your existing system doesn’t accommodate online orders, you may have to integrate another computer or tablet into the mix—but designate a location where the device(s) will live. Be aware of wireless needs too: are there dead spots in your restaurant where you can’t get signal? Make sure the order-receiving device doesn’t live in one of those spots—and verify that delivery orders are reliably communicated to the kitchen.

Name a Dedicated Delivery Employee

It may be tempting to offload delivery orders to FOH staff when the number of orders is minimal, or at least manageable. But growth in the area can quickly overwhelm servers and slow down in-house dining service. It’s recommended that once delivery orders average 30 per day, a dedicated delivery employee is warranted. This employee takes the orders, expedites food, prepares the packaging, and checks/verifies the orders before handing them over to the delivery courier. Include marketing materials with each order to nurture customers and encourage repeat orders.

Packaging Matters

The biggest unknown in delivery is the condition of the food from the time it leaves your restaurant to when it arrives at its destination. It’s worth the investment to do all you can to provide the best experience to the consumer (winning their trust and encouraging repeat purchases). Packaging is key, and should be:

  • Sturdy and durable
  • Insulated to keep food warm
  • Ventilated to prevent condensation and sogginess
  • Transparent so that delivery couriers can easily verify orders without opening/contacting food

Treat Delivery Couriers Like Family

Your delivery couriers are the bread and butter of the whole process, so it’s critical to reduce any barriers to their ability to succeed at their job. Whether they are in-house staff or a 3rd party provider, empower them to provide great service and great quality food deliveries to your customers. They need to be able to:

  • Pick up orders ASAP
  • Quickly find and verify orders (a designated shelving system can be helpful, especially with high volume)
  • Have an employee point-of-contact to address any issues
  • Update customers online if there is a change in delivery status

Consider rewarding great couriers with gift cards or food vouchers—they are critical to your business and a happy courier equals a happy customer.

Delivery is the demand of the future (and present), and with a few focused steps, you can set your delivery program up for success.

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