Americans spend nearly $10 billion on delivered-to-the-door pizza every year, putting operations without delivery capabilities at a serious profitability disadvantage.
Offering delivery is an attractive way to build business, efficiently handle orders, and expand your customer base. However, there are sometimes frustrating growing pains — particularly for operators and GMs who have to divide time between dine-in responsibilities and those specific to delivery, such as overseeing delivery drivers and ensuring they’re properly trained, licensed, and insured. If only there was a way to make things easier…
Fortunately, there are several best practices to follow that can help make pizza delivery an efficient process for your restaurant — from taking orders all the way to arriving at the customer’s door.
Tip #1 — Upgrade Your Point of Sale (POS) System
First thing’s first. If you want to have an efficient delivery process, make sure that your POS system is updated to support delivery. Likewise, ready your POS station to handle delivery orders. Set up a dedicated phone and order-taking area that is out of sight and out of earshot from dine-in customers, so you can hear orders clearly and don’t disrupt anyone eating in the restaurant.
Once your delivery process is in full swing, it’s important that you don’t rest on your laurels. Your POS system should be able to provide you with lots of useful performance information like late vs. on-time deliveries, time spent on the road, and time to get an order out the door. Use these metrics to adjust your delivery process, as well as set proper customer expectations regarding delivery times. By doing this on a regular basis, you’ll always be improving.
Tip #2 — Create An Order App
Creating your own order app is essential for sustaining a steady delivery business, especially when it comes to reaching younger customers who rely on these types of technologies for food ordering.
Tip #3 — Assemble Your Own Delivery Fleet
While it might be less expensive upfront to have your employees drive their own cars for delivery, the insurance cost and liability of insuring those vehicles usually isn’t worth it in the long run. If a business hires drivers who drive their own cars, they must carry non-own auto insurance, which is very costly and has very low payout limits — thus putting businesses at risk and leaving operators vulnerable. Purchasing vehicles for the business to use ensures that they’re properly insured, and gives you the freedom to wrap your car with advertising and deck it out any way you wish.
Tip #4 — Check Twice, Cut Once!
Unlike order mixups in the dining room that can be sent back to the kitchen and fixed right away, there’s really no good way to remedy an incorrect delivery order. Before they leave, delivery drivers need to double check all orders for accuracy, including drinks, side items, and sauces. Verifying that they have enough change is a good practice, too. Drivers can even go the extra mile for your customers by bringing hospitality mints, Parmesan cheese and red pepper packets, or paper plates and napkins for hotel orders.
Tip #5 — Don’t Forget About the Packaging
When you buy packaging for your pizza (i.e. boxes, delivery bags, etc.), don't be swayed by aesthetics. Make sure your packaging can properly insulate, support and ventilate your pizzas.
Tip #6 — Charge Delivery Fees
While large pizza chains made their reputations decades ago by providing free delivery, in the age of convenience many customers anticipate paying a small delivery charge. This helps chains and restaurants recoup energy and labor costs for the extra service, so don’t be worried about it scaring customers away.
Tip #7 — Emphasize Driver Safety
In addition to the standard safe driving training your drivers should receive (e.g. wear seatbelts, drive the speed limit, yield to pedestrians, etc.), don’t forget to train them on the other safety precautions. For example, only have your drivers carry around $20 in change to help deter thieves, and make sure they always have a cell phone with them for emergencies. Instruct drivers to only deliver to well-lit, occupied houses, never to enter a customer's home, and to make deliveries to hotels in the lobby. For additional safety, teach them to angle their headlights toward the door of the house when they park, if possible. It's also a good idea to provide driver attire with logos predominantly displayed for easy identification at the door. This puts customers' minds at ease when they can't see the vehicle, and is especially helpful when delivering to apartment buildings or hotels.
Tip #8 — Develop Payment Procedures
Of all the things we’ve talked about so far, there’s still one important question that needs to be answered: how are people going to pay for their pizza? Develop procedures for acceptable forms of payment and the amount of change drivers carry on them, and put this information on your delivery menu so your customers know what to expect. If you use an online ordering system, credit card payments are easy to process, but you can still take credit card information over the phone, too. Likewise, you also need to develop a procedure regarding tips. Will drivers pool and share, or will it be every driver for themselves?
Tip #9 — Sharpen Drivers’ Soft Skills
When your customers order delivery, they don’t get to see or experience your restaurant firsthand; their only impression will be of your food and the driver that delivers it to them. Because of this, it’s important that your drivers are polite, friendly, and presentable in order to provide a positive impression of your business. Make sure delivery drivers have clean uniforms and clean delivery vehicles.
Tip #10 — Advertise, Advertise, Advertise!
Once you’re ready to start delivering, make sure your customers know about it! Share the news on your restaurant’s website, social media, signage, and collateral materials. Don’t forget to include your phone number! Also, make sure to take advantage of being able to bring advertising literally to your customers' doorsteps. Include box toppers with weekly specials, promotions and maybe a coupon with an enticing offer to encourage re-orders. Even if you don’t deliver but offer pickup/takeout, make sure your customers know about your available dine-at-home options. This could very well be the deciding factor in customers choosing your restaurant over the competitors.
Adding delivery service is an effective way to stay competitive, but it can also strain a short-handed staff. To provide balance, use the advice found in our eBook, The Efficient Kitchen: Doing More With Fewer Employees. Click the button below to access your copy now!