Food delivery doesn't have to be the bane of a restaurant's existence. Though currently food delivery is causing a major disruption in the way that restaurants work, there are ways that restaurants can adapt. By changing the menu, advertising differently, and proactively establishing delivery processes, your restaurant may be able to capitalize on these new delivery trends. Here are a few things that you need to consider.
Food Services Aren't Going Away
As they say, "the customer is always right." Customers are increasingly desiring food delivery services. Now that it's been normalized, and there are several large national options available, many customers prefer to eat-in rather than dine-out. After all, the food delivery services are often about the same cost as a tip, even including the driver. In short, this isn't a trend: people are going to keep delivering and businesses are going to need to adapt.
But food delivery does introduce a few issues to modern businesses. Food delivery means that waiters and waitresses aren't tipped. It also means that the type of orders being fulfilled are changing. If staff members are being kept idle, a restaurant will need to pay their wages, rather than the wages being made up through tips. Food delivery also means that many people aren't eating their food "at its best," and that can lead to negative reviews and a poor customer experience.
On the other hand, food delivery also means that restaurants can expand beyond their local range; customers are more willing to purchase food if they don't have to head to the restaurant themselves. Consequently, it can increase a restaurant's presence and volume.
Adjusting Your Menu and Your Accommodations
There are many menu items that just don't travel well. If your restaurant is seeing an increase in delivery orders, it may be time to adjust your menu to compensate. In particular, items that will become soggy if they aren't eaten right away are not suitable for delivery—you can always mark these items as things that you don't deliver.
Further, make sure you have the right containers for people to eat on the go. If you can put sauces on the side, it will likely provide a better experience, even if the food isn't plated properly. There are consequences to serving food that doesn't travel well: you may get negative reviews from people who have never eaten inside of your restaurant.
On a financial and logistical note, many restaurants make up shortages in their food by selling drinks. If your business is balanced around wine and beverage service, deliveries are going to cut into your revenue substantially. You may need to think about whether you're going to position your loss leading items (such as appetizers) differently, or whether you're going to markup your delivery menu as a whole.
Shift Your Team Members Toward Streamlining Delivery
An increase in delivery orders mean that you need fewer people waiting on tables and more people prepping in the kitchen. You'll need to adjust your labor accordingly—and that can be difficult to balance out. While you may still need wait staff during the busiest times (such as weekends), much of your team may be focused on delivery orders during the weekdays.
That also means you're going to need a streamlined delivery process: a way to easily handle delivery orders from start to finish. Training your employees on accepting delivery orders and (potentially) delivering them will be necessary.
Add Some Extras to Your Delivery
When customers order through a delivery service, you have fewer options for impressing them. You can't impress them with excellent wait staff, plating, and ambience. One alternative is to add a few extras to your delivery service instead. Consider adding some extra treats that they didn't ask for, such as cookies, chocolates, or other affordable sweets. At minimum, remember to add utensils, as many people may not want to dirty dishes while they're eating in. A takeout menu included in the bag will also encourage them to order again.
Consider How You Will Offer Your Delivery Services
Are you going to partner with a national service? A local delivery service? Or are you going to handle services on your own? You should be aware that partnering with most national or even local delivery services does tend to cut into one's profit margins. The service itself tends to increase the cost of your food as well as adding a delivery fee—and, as mentioned, you aren't going to be making that up in drinks. However, trying to handle delivery on your own is unfeasible for nearly all restaurants. Thus, working with a delivery service is best, but only if you can ensure that the profit margins are going to pay for your company's overhead.
How will your business adapt to the rise in food delivery? The market is changing. Maintaining fewer active waitstaff members and building out a larger kitchen may quickly become the norm, as many people now want food service in their homes. With the above changes, you can start to capitalize now on the advantages that food delivery can bring: a larger audience and a higher volume of purchasing. Just make sure you have a plan and the supplies to do it.