With nearly 80% of all U.S. pizzerias offering delivery these days, pizza makers that don’t can be at a serious disadvantage in their local market, especially given the convenience and popularity of online ordering. Offering delivery is an attractive way to grow revenue, efficiently handle orders, and expand your customer base, but that’s not to say it’s without its headaches. Restaurant operators and GMs still have to balance orders for dine-in customers and delivery, while also overseeing delivery drivers and ensuring they’re properly trained, licensed, and insured. If only there was a way to make things easier…
Thankfully, 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 presenting at the customer’s door.
To help make sure the daily challenge of overseeing drivers and deliveries doesn’t interfere with your profits, be sure to follow these 12 tips for optimizing your delivery process:
Tip #1 — Upgrade Your Point of Sale (POS) System
First thing’s first, if you want to have an efficient delivery process, you have to make sure that your POS system supports delivery in the first place. It’s almost impossible to keep track of your orders without one, but thankfully many of the new systems available today do support delivery; it’s just a matter of choosing one that you like and fits your restaurant’s needs. The Pizza Today Vendor Directory is a good place to start if you’re looking for POS systems. Likewise, now is the time to make sure that your POS station is ready 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.
Tip #2 — Set Firm Expectations
Isn’t it frustrating when a pizza place promises 30-minute delivery, but shows up an hour after you order? It’s a surefire way to lose repeat business. In order to prevent that from happening, you need to set firm expectations with your employees and make sure your delivery process is designed to meet those expectations. Even if your deliveries often take 45 minutes or longer, it’s not a big deal as long as your customers know what to expect, and you know how to deliver upon those expectations. Similarly, if your dine-in traffic is busy, make sure your employees know to give dine-in customers priority, and let other customers know that delivery might take just a little longer. If your delivery processes regularly affect your dine-in customers, then it clearly isn’t efficient enough.
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 that drive their own car, 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. By purchasing vehicles for the business to use, however, you can ensure that they’re properly insured, and even have the freedom to wrap your car with advertising and deck it out any way you wish with your logo, phone number, website, etc.
Tip #4 — Train Your Drivers for Speed
It’s one thing to tell your drivers to be quick with their deliveries, but being quick won’t help them know which streets to take or how to avoid construction traffic. Though your drivers might have a pretty good lay of the land already, make sure you keep them updated about any traffic alerts, and try to show them the fastest route before they leave every time. Be sure to reinforce, however, that quick driving doesn’t mean drive unsafely; it means driving smart to find the quickest routes.
Tip #5 — Check Twice, Cut Once!
Unlike dining in where wrong orders can be sent back to the kitchen and fixed right away, if you get a delivery order wrong, there’s really no good way of fixing it. Before your delivery drivers leave, make sure they double check all orders for accuracy, including drinks, side items, and sauces. Also make sure they have enough change and the receipts to sign for credit card orders. You can even go the extra mile for your customers by bringing hospitality mints, Parmesan and red pepper packets, or paper plates and napkins for hotel orders.
Tip #6 — Don’t Forget About the Packaging
When you buy packaging for your pizza (i.e. boxes, delivery bags, etc.), you have to make sure it goes beyond just looking good. Make sure your packaging can properly support your pizzas, and don’t forget about its ventilation properties. The Pizza Today Vendor Directory also has some resources for packaging products.
Tip #7 — Charge Delivery Fees
While large pizza chains like Dominos made their reputation decades ago by providing free delivery, many customers have now grown used to paying a small delivery charge for the convenience. In fact, more than a third of consumers even say they don’t mind paying a delivery fee for their favorite pie. 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 #8 — Emphasize Driver Safety
In addition to the standard safe driving training your drivers should receive (e.g. wear seatbelts, drive speed limit, yield to pedestrians, etc.), don’t forget to train them on the other safety precautions they should take. For example, only have your drivers carry a maximum of $20 to help deter thieves, and make sure they always have a cell phone on them for emergencies. Similarly, only deliver to houses that are well lit or look like someone is home, and make deliveries to hotels in the lobby. Tell your drivers not to go into any customers’ homes, and teach them to angle their headlights toward the door of the house when they park, if possible.
Tip #9 — 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 #10 — 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 interaction for your business. Make sure delivery drivers have clean uniforms to wear, and try to keep delivery vehicles looking clean and not beat up.
Tip #11 — Analyze Your POS Metrics
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 and improve 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 #12 — 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, Facebook Page, sign, menus, flyers, and more, and don’t forget to include your phone number. Even if you don’t offer delivery, but do offer pickup/takeout, make sure your customers know about your available dine-at-home options, as it very well could be the deciding factor for how they determine which pizza to get. Similarly, on slow delivery nights (typically Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday), try experimenting with different coupons to beef up carry out or delivery orders.
Want more tips about how you can improve your restaurant operations? Download our Waitstaff Training Tip Sheet to learn more about how to improve your dine-in experience.