Restaurant self-delivery is a viable option for you to consider right now as an owner.

States are beginning to re-open – Texas being one of the first – and while we all look forward to using the term “Post-COVID,” there is still uncertainty for restaurant owners. 

People are cooking more at home, and prepared meal sales are up. But the customer wants the same three things they’ve always wanted from restaurants: a good experience, fast service, and a reasonable price.

The question is, “Now what?” (again)

Food on demand is still in demand, but will restaurant delivery activity remain strong?

How eager will customers be to dine in at restaurants? In other words, diners may miss their favorite restaurant, but how quickly do they want to return to that favorite seat by the window?

As a restaurant owner, you still have three options when it comes to delivery:

  • The big boys like Grubhub, Doordash, etc.
  • Your local Restaurant Delivery Service
  • Using your staff for self-delivery

The top 4 big restaurant delivery apps have 95% of the business

And they want your business too. So much so, that some are willing to get it without you knowing, as happened to the restaurant owner, Dallas Hale. He had to pursue legal action to take his restaurants off the company’s app.

These large providers do tend to have more resources and better coverage in urban areas. And although 95% is a massive market share, that other 5% is significant. 

Before the pandemic, restaurants in the U.S. generated revenues of over 800 billion. Those revenues dropped by about 240 billion in 2020, but still, that other 5% amounts to over 32 billion dollars per year.

Fact is, the smaller players can compete, especially on the local level.

Restaurant Delivery Services (or RDS) are the mid-level option

One of those “smaller players” is local RDS companies. With these folks, you’re likely to get a more personal connection. Most of the time, you’ll be dealing with the same delivery person, so you’ll become better acquainted, and they’ll be more familiar with your business.

Although delivery fees are lower, you’re still looking at a 15 to 20% cut.

There are many providers in the space, but you want to find those willing to try a little harder. So, plan to try one or two before deciding who to use as your primary delivery resource.

Most of our blog posts are directed toward RDS companies out there, so we’re going to keep it short in this category. 

A restaurant self-delivery service to call your own

Jenny Harn runs Stoner’s Pizza in the Savannah, Georgia, area. She’s been in the pizza business for thirty years, and when she started, her delivery app was pen and paper. For a time, she even ran her own restaurant delivery service.

When she tried using one of the big four delivery services, she found that not only did they charge too much, but they also diverted traffic from her website because of their co-branding business model. 

In the restaurant delivery world, the three priorities are speed, price, and quality. For Jenny, it was easier to maintain these priorities and own her branding when she adopted a restaurant self-delivery model. In fact, before COVID, she had already transitioned the bulk of her business to take-out and delivery. 

“The more people you have eating in your establishment, the more time, effort, and cost you have to invest in maintaining service standards. And the fact is, self-delivery can be a huge boon to your bottom line. I helped a friend convert to a take-out and delivery-based business, and he says it’s doubled his revenues.”

By having delivery personnel on-site, Jenny can dispatch them for delivery the minute the food is ready. Speed of delivery ensures hot food, which means better quality. 

“There were other issues with the 3rd party delivery companies that I didn’t like,” says Jenny. “When a customer complained about the food being cold, I would absorb the cost of the food and the delivery fee, even when the 3rd party was at fault for slow delivery!”

Having reliable restaurant delivery software in place has been critical to Jenny’s self-delivery success. 

“We use Datadreamers, and one of the things I like most about it is being able to track drivers on the map and monitor everything in one place.”

By the way, if you’re reluctant about leaping, keep in mind that restaurant delivery software makes the transition far easier than you might think.

Another point or two to consider regarding self-delivery:

  • It provides an opportunity for your employees to start interacting with customers and even encourage them to visit if that’s your intention.
  • You provide a company presence that communicates you’re in control of your business despite the disruptions.
  • It may be the only opportunity you have for a face-to-face (even if it’s contactless) connection with your customers right now. Take advantage of that to enhance the relationship with news, coupons, etc.

It’s worth thinking about the idea. Restaurant delivery was already on the upswing before the pandemic, so it’s not going away. 

The fact is, it could be a lever for differentiating your restaurant in the next phase of “Now what?”!