Roadmap to Success: 4 Guidelines for Restaurant Owners Managing Their Own Delivery Drivers
Offering delivery options kept many eateries afloat during the recent pandemic. Many customers have come to depend upon the convenience of tapping an app on their phone and having food brought directly to their door. How can restaurateurs capitalize on this growing market, and what guidelines should they establish if they manage their own fleet of drivers?
What you need is a roadmap to success. Here are four essential guidelines for restaurant owners managing their own delivery drivers.
Establish Routes and Ease of Navigation
Determining your service area is your first step in managing your delivery drivers. Many restaurants limit such services within five miles of their establishment to ensure customers receive a hot, tasty product and control costs. Once you establish your boundaries, you can focus on identifying the speediest routes to get your goods into hungry hands.
A quality GPS device and app are musts. While having drivers download an app helps, you limit them to their gadget’s capabilities. In-vehicle GPS systems have several advantages, including longer battery life and fewer distractions. Such screens are easier to read, reducing the risk of accidents from drivers squinting at tiny displays.
An app such as Waze that provides real-time traffic updates is also vital. Finally, find out the schedule of known interruptions, such as train crossings, to identify alternative routes that won’t result in your drivers idling in traffic for a half-hour or more.
Train Drivers on Fleet Maintenance
Many restaurateurs make the mistake of not training their drivers. After all, they must be suitable for the task if they have a license, right? Unfortunately, failure to educate your staff about certain realities can cost your bottom line.
For example, drivers using your fleet should employ best practices to conserve fuel while making deliveries. Such strategies include the following:
- Avoid overfilling: Fuel can expand and overflow, dirtying the environment and costing you more at the tank.
- Regulate speed and breaking: Excessive speeds and frequent braking decreases fuel economy. Fortunately, you can now use technology to ensure drivers adhere to proper driving rules like obeying the speed limit.
- Making illogical stops: It’s impractical to deliver a meal five miles away, return to one within a mile of your restaurant, then backtrack another three miles for the third drop. Plan your route to minimize unnecessary mileage.
- Watching slippery and uneven roads: Poor road conditions can result in pricey accidents and burn excess fuel. Outfit your drivers with equipment like chains for extreme weather and allow extra time, informing customers of potential delays.
Furthermore, your drivers must serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for your fleet’s condition. For example, train them who to notify if they notice balding tires that no longer pass the penny trick. Performing routine maintenance extends your vehicle’s life and prevents accidents that may rob you of needed equipment and result in pricey worker’s compensation payouts.
Weigh Your Various Delivery Options
Restaurant owners have two distinct options for managing delivery: hiring dedicated staff or using a meal delivery service. Using in-house employees provides greater oversight over how they tackle their routes. Additionally, you have more control over their customer interactions, letting you immediately identify those who don’t meet your expectations and take corrective action. Finally, customers appreciate having one point of contact when issues arise.
However, today’s meal delivery apps offer a potentially more affordable option. You won’t have the trouble of maintaining a fleet, as contractors for such organizations use their own vehicles. Although these apps charge restaurant owners fees to utilize their platforms, the total price could be far less than hiring employees and purchasing a fleet. Here’s a quick overview of three of the most popular options.
DoorDash is one of the most widely recognized restaurant delivery apps. It commands the largest market share, making it desirable to many owners. However, the downside is that the pricing varies by service area, requiring you to run the numbers to see if it’s your most affordable choice.
Uber Eats is available in over 6,000 cities nationwide, making it another popular choice. However, fees can range as high as 30% for each order. Customers pickup an additional 15% fee, discouraging some from using the app for all but special occasions.
GrubHub has a strong regional presence in several markets like New York. However, their cumulative commission charges can cut profit margins, and ranking in their search results is challenging unless you pay for a premium listing.
Evaluate Your Program’s Success
How will you know if your delivery program increases sales and profits? The only way to know is to periodically run the numbers and evaluate the costs versus the benefits.
If your program fails to meet expectations, evaluate what caused it to fall short. Three factors that can impact program success include:
- Point of sale: Is the issue with the app you use for delivery? How user-friendly is it? Could a novice navigate your site? If not, a redesign might be in order.
- Kitchen: Is the food not coming out to your customer’s satisfaction? Are prices consistent with market rates in your region?
- Logistics: How quickly do customers get their meals? Have they experienced repeated delays?
Customer feedback often lends insight into how to improve your delivery offerings. Include a feedback form with each offer, perhaps including a bonus for completion — like a free cookie with their next order. You generate repeat business and gather intel.
Guidelines for Restaurant Owners
The right delivery program can be vital to your restaurant’s roadmap to success. Follow these four essential guidelines to manage your delivery drivers.