Trust is key to attracting new restaurants to your RDS—here’s how to demonstrate your worth and build a connection with a local restaurant delivery service (RDS) strategy.

Mother Jones recently published an article about the incredible potential of local RDSs to disrupt the restaurant delivery industry. There’s some encouraging insight to be found, but it starts with earning the trust of local restaurants. Many of them have been burned by bad service, so you have to be strategic about building that relationship.

Here are a few strategies for your RDS to earn the trust of local restaurants.

Be outspoken about your support for small, locally-owned restaurants and businesses.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a widespread passion for supporting local businesses over national brands—and restaurants are no expectation. People are more passionate than ever about their neighborhood eateries. And if you lend your voice to the movement, your RDS will reap the benefits.

Be creative about ways you can demonstrate your passion for small, local businesses. Do regular features in your newsletter or on social media. Choose other local businesses when buying supplies—such as t-shirts or car decals—for your RDS. Keep tabs on local politics so you can voice your support of new laws that help small businesses.

Show your restaurant clients and delivery customers that you care about small businesses. You’ll earn their trust.

Keep commission rates reasonable.

The Big 3 restaurant delivery brands can be tight-lipped about exactly how much commission they charge. But many restaurants have reported delivery commissions up to 30%. When margins are already narrow, this can put a serious dent in revenues.

Some local governments imposed temporary commission caps during the COVID-19 pandemic to protect restaurants from financial disaster. But most of those caps are being lifted, and the Big 3 food delivery apps companies are once again free to charge whatever they want.

Business decisions are made based on many factors, but price is a big one. If you can keep your commission rates low, restaurants are more likely to choose your food delivery business over the Big 3. The ideal commission rate will vary, but a good rule of thumb is to stay below 20%.

If that number makes you nervous, here’s another way to think about it. The Big 3 compensated for those pandemic-era commission caps by adding small surcharges to all delivery orders. And people paid it, without much complaint. Loyal delivery customers are not very price sensitive. If you really need to bring in more revenue per delivery, charge the customer, not the restaurant. Otherwise, your commission fees will keep creeping up—and you’ll drive restaurants away.

Pay your delivery drivers well.

Many of the big-name restaurant delivery companies have received criticism for underpaying their drivers. And thanks to a growing workers’ rights movement—led by a cat—people are increasingly concerned about fair pay for delivery drivers.

There’s a ripple effect of benefits when you pay your drivers well. For starters, well-paid drivers are more likely to stick around. Long-term employees are usually better at their jobs, which means better service. This reflects well on both your RDS and your restaurant clients. If your restaurant clients can trust you to make a good impression on their behalf, they’ll stay with you.

Plus, if you build a reputation for treating your workers well, consumers will feel good about choosing you.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the restaurant delivery industry. Your local restaurant delivery service has the potential to make a meaningful difference to the other small businesses in your area. Be strategic about earning the trust of local restaurants, and your RDS won’t be the only business that benefits.