“The Superbowl commercials from the third-party delivery providers were infuriating. They do NOT support local restaurants. They are continuing to perpetuate this false narrative. The reality is they are predatory vultures – and it goes beyond the fees.”
– Kyle Inserra, Restaurant Growth Strategist and Hospitality Thought Leader
US-based UBS Evidence Lab reported that online sales for restaurants and hotels increased by almost 60% by the end of November 2020. It was an eye-opener for restaurateurs with dine-in business models. After all, these findings proved that there is a viable approach to increasing food sales despite the pandemic pains: implementing a commission-free restaurant food delivery system.
To take advantage of the boom in online food delivery, restaurants are often compelled to partner with third-party delivery services by paying them a hefty premium. While restaurants with deep pockets can afford their service charges, the tight margins of small and medium-sized restaurants do not allow them the luxury of experimenting with this option. It creates an entry barrier and gives a significant edge to larger restaurants. However, it’s all set to change with direct online ordering systems.
Innovative software solutions are allowing restaurants to implement a commission-free delivery system. Such a system enables restaurants to grow rapidly, stay affordable, improve business management, and enhance productivity without being squeezed by restaurant food delivery services.
Lunchbox, a digital savior for restaurants and the creator of NotGrubHub, states, “Most restaurants actually LOSE money to third-party apps. Ordering directly from the restaurants you love is the number one way to actually help save them.”
Besides price, adopting new technology is another challenge that restaurant owners must overcome. Adopting new technology is challenging for any business, and migrating to a restaurant food delivery system is no different. You must counsel the staff to embrace the change and train them appropriately to use the new technology effectively. Most importantly, you must pick a reliable technology partner like Lunchbox or Orderlina to support you through the change.
If you plan to set up zero-commission restaurant food delivery, let’s break down the process into practical, actionable steps. From setting up an online menu to menu optimization to pickup scheduling to social media marketing, here is everything you need to know.
Set Up Your Ordering Menu Online for Direct Orders
Alex Canter, chief executive at Ordermark, offers valuable insight when he says: “Oftentimes, the restaurants weren’t set up for delivery — they don’t really have menus that are designed for takeout or delivery.”
Dynamic ordering applications such as Orderlina, lunchbox, Square POS, and ChowNow provide seamless order customization to restaurateurs and hotel owners. By partnering with such self-ordering kiosks and digital applications, direct delivery restaurants have the flexibility to change their menu options whenever they desire. Moreover, this system lets them manage in-house deliveries and pickups without paying hefty commissions to third-party food delivery platforms.
By implementing a commission-free delivery solution, every restaurant can kickstart its journey to affordable online restaurant food delivery. These solutions help restaurants curate its menu online, streamline customer ordering, highlight top-selling, and high-margin items, and improve overall customer service.
Third-party software solutions like LoCo Co-ops dramatically reduce operational costs for restaurants. Restaurants that use such online ordering software save up to 50% in commissions by avoiding third-party delivery marketplaces. Loco Co-Opsthen distributes a big share of its net income back to restaurants, which reduces the effective commission even further.
In the words of Jon Sewell, President & Founder at LoCo Co-ops, “The best delivery solution for independent restaurants, one that provides the most cost-efficient, highest customer service product while also protecting their customers’ data, is for the restaurants to develop their own delivery co-operatives.”
- Easier options for the guest to choose from
- The restaurant’s online presence improves, and it ranks higher on Google
- More traffic gets routed to your website and social media accounts instead to a third-party restaurant food delivery app
- More guests choose your restaurant or hotel
- Analyzing the top picks and curating items to promote is a time-consuming process
Move Customers From Phone to Restaurant Self Ordering Kiosk
Jen from @harvestbrooklin comments, “Ninety-five percent of all our guests have adapted to online ordering for dine-in and takeaway.”
If you are worried about potential hiccups while setting up and using a restaurants’ online ordering system, here’s a tip for you: start small.
Choose a web-based ordering solution designed for restaurants and made for mobile. Let your staff know that this will eliminate – or at least reduce – the time and attention required for manually entering phone orders into the POS. Factor in the insights from your staff while setting up your menu online. They know your most popular pickup orders and understand the nuances of punching in discounts, special requests, and more. When the contactless menu is in place, your staff’s time can be put to better use.
Post your menu on social media and let your guests know that they can call or use the restaurant’s online ordering option. Explain how they support the restaurant to earn better margins and stay in business by placing a direct order. A commission-free online ordering system can be the difference between your restaurant’s success and failure.
Your guests will also appreciate the convenience of the contactless menu feature and prefer to order directly from their phones. If you typically use an automated answering service during peak periods, consider adding an automated message to inform guests about the restaurant’s self-ordering kiosk.
Educate them on how they can order more quickly online and transfer their call to the phone ordering system. You can also offer a discount or special menu options for direct orders to encourage adoption. Gradually, customers will recognize the convenience of your restaurant food delivery solution and migrate to it. You can then phase out the answering service entirely.
- Restaurants’ ordering system frees up staff for other tasks
- Fewer order errors
- A better guest experience – quicker and easier
- A few guests may still prefer to order over the phone
Optimize Your Restaurant Food Delivery System: No Soup Unless You’re in Thailand
Will Shu, CEO of Deliveroo, has a famous scene in the Netflix series Million Pound Menu where he tests a restaurant’s meals to see if they are delivery-ready. He pops the meal in a heat bag and rides it around on his bike for seven minutes, the average delivery time.
Every restaurant needs to ensure its dishes travel well.
Grubhub revealed their most-ordered menu items from January to June 2020. Surprisingly, there is no mention of the delivery of hot beverages despite tea and soup being common appetizers that customers order when they dine in. At the back of these insights, Grubhub shares the factors to consider while drafting a delivery menu:
- Not every dish travels well. Ensure that you add only those items to your delivery menu that don’t end up soggy, spilled, or inedible en route to the customer.
- Include similar and complementary items.
- Revisit your margins on each menu item after considering the restaurant food delivery costs. Are they still profitable? Consider the additional delivery costs to recalculate the margins on each menu item. Assess if you are still profitable and tweak the prices accordingly.
Restaurants that use a commission-free online delivery system should optimize their menu online by promoting top picks and specials. Or, as Scott Landers, co-founder of Figure 8 Logistics suggests, “Offer an experience [guests] can’t get anywhere else.” This also has the effect of moving customers off third-party delivery apps to direct orders.
- Enhance customer experience by delivering fresh and well-presented food.
- Using data-based analytics makes it easier to work out the bestsellers and promote them at the top of your online menu
- May miss out on serving guests who actually want to order “soup” or other items that do not travel well.
Choose Between In-House Drivers or Third-Party Restaurant Food Delivery Services
Restaurants often consider the default option of hiring in-house delivery drivers. Many restaurants have also successfully converted serving staff to the delivery staff. However, most restaurants will find it difficult to take on logistics. While planning the logistics for a restaurant’s online ordering system, restaurateurs should know that their staff is not their only available resource. Many “last-mile” delivery solutions are entirely compatible with direct online ordering systems.
Drive Yello is one of the key players offering last-mile delivery solutions in Australia; it connects businesses to drivers. Platforms like Yello, Lyve, and Relay use advanced technologies for same-day deliveries. With the help of such platforms, restaurants can pass the cost of delivery to the consumer and logistical challenge to a company that perhaps does it better. This allows the restaurant to retain control of the ordering, payment, and feedback process while outsourcing the actual logistics.
While third-party restaurant delivery services might be an easy, convenient solution for outsourcing, they’re also a race to the bottom. They force restaurants to compete with other local restaurants at a time of shrinking margins.
Direct ordering with an in-house commission-free online ordering system allows your restaurant to grow its brand. You do not have to share customer data with a third-party delivery marketplace. And you retain complete control over your products and customer experience.
- Earn more profit per order
- Ensure higher customer satisfaction
- Focus on their core task of preparing and serving quality food
- Guests may not appreciate paying a delivery fee. Offering free delivery over a certain dollar amount can offset their hesitation
Connect to Social Media to Put Your Marketing on Autopilot
Hotels, restaurants, eateries, and other food businesses use social media to promote their brands. The best way to grow your food outlet’s social media following is to have your guests do it for you!
Make sure that your restaurant food delivery system can integrate with social media. It should also provide your guests the functionality to share your menu online. More importantly, the system should be able to take orders directly on social media with a limited number of clicks.
Keep it simple in the initial stages. Start by adding the Start Order button on Facebook and a link to your menu (e.g., a link in Instagram bio). Additionally, a restaurant self-ordering kiosk should allow guests to place an order and process the payment instantly.
- Inexpensive marketing strategy for restaurateurs
- Automatic promotion of different ordering options
- Guests experience the convenience of placing orders through your restaurant’s online ordering system
- Building a presence on social media requires time. Brands with the highest social media audiences reap the best results
Close the Feedback Loop With a Commission-Free Online Ordering System
An interview with a chef-turned-eatery-owner published on Restaurant Confessionals explains how demotivating it is to read unjustified criticism of a venue. To quote him directly, he says, “Our restaurant has received plenty of good press but, at this point, it’s been a little while since we’ve been reviewed. So, some Yelpers are responding to a dated review from a few years ago and expect that exact same meal.”
Google reviews and Yelp capture the pulse of restaurant goers. They have public reviews of direct delivery restaurants from around the globe. But, not all Yelp reviews are based on unbiased experiences, and not every Google review is rooted in reason. Some negative reviews are influenced by preconceived notions; others originate from unfortunate circumstances; in some cases, the reviews largely misrepresent the quality of food or service of the restaurant because of judgment error on the reviewer’s part. t Even then, one bad review has the power to destroy the image that a business has built over several years.
To remedy this, a restaurant food delivery system should provide a closed loop for feedback: Comments should go directly from the guest to the restaurant manager. This allows the restaurant to deal with the issue effectively. At the same time, the customer can stay honest about their review without the guilt of taking down an establishment on a public platform. In the spirit of sharing customer experience, restaurants may still opt to post their best reviews on social media.
Restaurants’ online ordering systems should Include options such as a “feedback button” or an email asking, “How can we improve?” Remember to respond to every feedback positively to keep that feedback loop closed effectively.
Sending a tactfully crafted email requesting feedback after every restaurant food delivery can convert a detractor into a promoter. The guest knows their opinion is valued, and their likelihood of becoming a return buyer increases.
- The customer feels important and is more likely to return
- Fewer negative reviews on public platforms
- Effectively and directly manage online comments
- Some guests may continue to write reviews on public platforms
Start Now to Grow Your Restaurant Food Delivery Orders
Scott Landers, co-founder of Figure Eight Logistics, a consulting group for restaurant food delivery, gave the best insight in an article published in QSR Magazine, “If a restaurant does not currently have a branded online ordering channel, now is the time to build one.”
Scott Landers, co-founder of Figure Eight Logistics, a consulting group for restaurant food delivery, had the best insight to share in an article published in QSR Magazine: “If a restaurant does not currently have a branded online ordering channel, now is the time to build one.”
Partnering with a third-party restaurant food delivery app seems feasible for big players who generate enough profit. Irrespective of their service quality, their price points do not make financial sense for smaller restaurants. However, combining a commission-free delivery platform such as Orderlina and lunchbox puts even smaller restaurants on a level playing field. Last-mile delivery software offers an inexpensive, reliable, and implementable solution for small-scale and medium-sized eateries.
So, if you are a new or a small- to mid-size restaurant, you are taking the right step in by moving to in-house, commission-free delivery and takeaway.
Finally, heed the wise words of Kyle Inserra, “If you really want to ‘save restaurants,’ next time you order food, call the restaurant directly or check their website and see if they have their own delivery.”