There’s no argument about the fact that the restaurant industry is in upheaval. The dining experience is suddenly suspect. “Eating in” is preferable to eating out,  and the challenge for restaurant owners and chains is how to find traction in this new reality. The good news is that if you offer a delivery service for restaurants, there’s leverage in the lurch.

Here’s a sampling from today’s Google news search:

  • A story of how Chipotle had repositioned itself to take full advantage of a delivery model.
  • Food delivery will be a $220 billion industry by 2023 and account for 40% of restaurant sales.
  • Though the Ghost Kitchens concept is not entirely new, it has quickly become much more viable. Food distributor US Foods has even launched a chain of ghost kitchens. The concept is here to stay.

Plenty has changed, but here’s what hasn’t:

  • People are still eating
  • They still trust their favorite restaurants
  • They’re likely missing their favorite dishes

Restaurateurs are having to become more creative than ever. Now that the dining experience is perceived as less safe, most are forced to up their game by delivering an eating experience instead.

This means there’s an opportunity for those who can deliver a solution.

Restaurant Industry leverage in the lurch

If you have or are considering starting a restaurant delivery service (RDS), you can be a valuable asset in the new abnormal. Trouble is you’re not the only one with this idea. Though there’s competition, you can still find your place in the restaurant delivery shuffle if…

If you differentiate yourself creatively

According to Phil Dumontet, Founder and former CEO of DASHED, passion is the differentiator. To compete with the big boys like Uber Eats and DoorDash you have to provide something they can’t or won’t.

Get close to your restaurant prospects and customers. Invest time talking to them and learning what’s painful and problematic. Then find a need and fill it.

For example, suppose the problem is that customers complain about a lack of communication. Could you find a way to overcommunicate, or do it more efficiently?

Take a look at the ratings of restaurant delivery services – especially the bad ones. Can you capitalize?

Develop a passion factor for the problem area you will address. Is it speed? Hot food? Courteous drivers? Express it clearly with your words and actions.

If you become a learner

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”  – Eric Hoffer

Become a sponge. Learn all you can about the industry and the customer. The more you learn, the more valuable you can become to the struggling restaurateur. Be the early adaptor who helps them adapt.

Learn how restaurants are positioning themselves differently now and how your service can best align with them. Don’t just be a delivery resource – seek to become a trusted advisor.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Which brands or types of restaurants are adapting quickest to the delivery model? Are there clues that might help you help similar types of restaurants?
  • Are there geographic areas that aren’t being served as well? Why? Can you do it better? Hint: Google is your friend.
  • Sample your local delivery providers. What do they do well? Not so well? How might you do it better, or emulate the good parts?

If you lead

There are plenty of managers, and it’s a vital part of an effective delivery operation. But, it takes leadership to make sure the right things are managed in the right way.

Educate and relate to your people. You can’t expect what you don’t inspect. If you haven’t trained your people to do things correctly, it’s on you. If they don’t heed the training, it’s on them. Companies like UPS and FedEx are borderline fanatical about training. Take note, and develop a minimum level of training in areas such as safety, customer service, and efficiency.

At the same time, it’s important to relate to your people. Recognize that they have a life outside of their work. Ask them about it.

Know that there’s a learning curve that comes with any new skill. Be patient with the new folks.

Don’t underestimate the value of thanking people for a job well done. It matters!

Don’t forget safety!  Not only because of the liability factor but also because it demonstrates that you care about the well-being of your people and the general public. Because you do, right?

Consider having your people memorize The 5 Seeing Habits as a condition of employment. It’s an excellent way to teach them to look out for others as well as themselves. Quiz them. Keep it fun, but serious.

Invest time and money in systems. Whether it’s keeping the books or mapping out a delivery path, systems provide an efficient structure for minimizing decisions and effort.

A restaurant delivery software like DataDreamers is a game-changer for those using spreadsheets or manual processes to run a business. The AI functionality alone will revolutionize the way you run your business and provide controls you cannot now imagine.

If you can differentiate, become a learner, and learn to lead, you can bring tremendous value to the fast-changing restaurant industry.

It’s not just a way to make a living, it’s a way to make a difference!