Consider these three food delivery hygiene practices to boost customer satisfaction for your RDS.

Have you read about the bill moving through the Iowa House of Representatives? If it passes, House Study Bill 688 will restrict drivers working for third-party restaurant delivery services (RDS).

This bill is the first of its kind, and it remains to be seen whether it will become law. But the bill mentions a few good “delivery hygiene” practices for RDSs.

Restaurant delivery hygiene policies to consider for your RDS

The Iowa bill addresses a few specific rules and restrictions for restaurant delivery drivers. You might think of these as jumping-off points for developing your company policies.

No pets in the delivery vehicle while the driver is working.

With tempting food smells filling the car, many animals will be interested and want to investigate—who can blame them? But a dog might drool on a takeout container or leave a muddy paw print on a pizza box. Obvious evidence of a pet is unlikely to go over well with a delivery customer. There’s also the risk of triggering a customer’s allergies.

You might consider a no-pets rule for these reasons, with the obvious exception that service animals are permitted.

No smoking or vaping in the delivery vehicle while the driver is working.

This is a tricky one. Because delivery drivers are independent contractors, it might be challenging for your RDS to regulate smoking. But the reality is that most customers will not appreciate smoke smells.

Here’s one way to think about it. If a customer picks up on a secondhand smoke smell, he may leave a bad rating for the driver. He may also call customer service to complain. Bad ratings can tank your RDS’s credibility, and all those complaints can damage a driver’s employee reputation. A business focused on continuous improvement usually dictates that low-performing employees—and low-rated drivers—are the first to be dismissed. So make sure your drivers understand that smoking and vaping could put their jobs at risk.

It’s also worth noting that you have no legal obligation to provide extra smoke breaks for employees who smoke.

All delivery drivers must undergo basic training on maintaining proper food temperatures.

At this point, most RDS owners can blame at least one disastrous delivery on bad food separation practices. Salads get warm when they share a bag with hot soup. Ice cream melts when it sits on top of a pizza box. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook the importance of keeping hot and cold foods separate en route to a customer.

Develop a basic training program to teach your drivers a few rules of thumb on the subject. It can save you from some very preventable mishaps. Also, get a few insulated bags and coolers, so temperature-controlled foods get an extra layer of security.

Why food delivery hygiene matters

There are two primary reasons for good delivery hygiene: food safety and RDS ratings.

A delivery driver picks up a pizza order and a sushi order. He sets the sushi on top of the hot pizza box and drives for twenty minutes. That’s more than enough time for all that heat to compromise the safety of the sushi. In addition, the customer could get sick because the driver was absent-minded while putting food in the car. If your RDS requires all drivers to undergo training, you can prevent this from happening and keep your customers healthy.

Restaurant delivery—and restaurants in general—rely heavily on ratings to earn the trust of new customers. Too many poor ratings due to smoke smells, pet interference, and temperature fluctuations can spell disaster for your RDS. Good delivery hygiene means a better delivery experience, increased customer satisfaction, and higher ratings. Happy customers will come back, and new ones are more likely to give you a chance.

How to get your delivery drivers on board with food delivery hygiene

You can incentivize good delivery hygiene practices from both angles.

First, your drivers should know that too many bad ratings will cost them their jobs. If they ignore hygiene practices and customers are unhappy, the consequences can be dire. Don’t err on the side of fear tactics. Just make sure your drivers understand what’s at stake.

Second, consider real incentives for good ratings. For example, you could give your drivers a monthly bonus of 50 cents or $1 per five-star rating. Or you could enter their name into a drawing for a gift card or other prize: One entry for every five-star rating. Whatever you decide, make sure that every good rating counts. It’ll give your drivers good motivation to do their best on every delivery.

Whether or not your RDS operates in Iowa, you can find business inspiration in House Bill 688. We’ll keep you posted on whether it passes—and if other states seem likely to follow suit. In the meantime, your RDS is well served by any efforts you make toward creating an excellent delivery experience.