Restaurant Delivery Service Relationships

Practical steps for improving your experience working with independent contractors.

Depending on where you live and how your business operates, your restaurant delivery service (RDS) may rely heavily on independent contractors (ICs). ICs can be an affordable, flexible option for many businesses, especially in the early days of operation. Many established RDSs have enjoyed years of success working with ICs.

But, as is the case with virtually any business decision, there are drawbacks to a workforce composed entirely of ICs. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to mitigate rescue and set up your RDS and your ICs for success.

Vet your delivery drivers like crazy.

There’s a limit to how much you can regulate ICs. You may be powerless to prohibit certain behaviors or choices due to the legal protections afforded to ICs. That’s why it’s so important to hire good people. You can save yourself a lot of heartache and build a better delivery team by choosing excellent workers up front.

Invest in refining your interviewing and vetting skills so you can make confident hiring decisions and avoid the bad eggs. Your best defense is a good offense.

Withhold paychecks by one week—at least.

Most big companies don’t pay their workers the day after a pay period ends. Payroll is usually processed 7-10 days later. Everyone is still paid on the promised schedule, but that week-long buffer can really save your bacon.

Let’s say one of your delivery drivers, who is an IC, puts in their notice. They still have some company items, like food storage bags—and no apparent plans to return them. You can pause that last paycheck and use it as leverage to ensure that any equipment is returned to the RDS. Once everything is settled, the worker gets their last paycheck.

The goal here is not to scam anyone. It’s just an insurance policy so no one can walk off with equipment or keys after quitting.

Be honest with yourself about what it’s like to work for you.

Think about the best manager you ever had. What did you like about him or her? How did they make you feel? Did they nitpick your mistakes or encourage you to learn from them? Did they celebrate your successes and good work?

Now think about the worst manager you ever had. Which of their habits were most frustrating—or downright upsetting? What did you find yourself wishing they would do differently—or not do at all?

You can use thoughtful questions and your own experiences to assess yourself as a manager. Of course, you should still seek outside feedback, but, as RDS owner, it’s important to be aware of your own managerial style. This takes a little humility, of course. No one’s perfect, and we all have room for improvement. But if you realize there’s an area or two where you can improve, invest some energy into developing your skills. Managers can really set the tone for the entire work environment. Do everything in your power to make sure your impact is constructive.

Don’t take it personally.

The truth is that you simply cannot control other people, including your delivery drivers. You can do everything right and still end up with an unfortunate outcome. Focus your attention on the factors you can control, and let go of the rest. As long as you’re doing your best, you’re doing everything you can.

Hiring and managing people is always bound to present some unexpected challenges. But with a few good practices, you can create a great team of independent contractors.

Are there any tips you’d add to our list? Tell us in the comments!