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Do you use a weather app to promote delivery when it’s raining?

Have your employees ever ridden with a delivery driver on his rounds? Do you include what time the food was ready to go on your receipts?

Many thanks go out to Mike Mirkil, of Kitchen United (shared kitchen facilities); Technomic’s Melissa Wilson; Becky Miller, Le Pain Quotidien; and Brandy Blackwell of Dunkin’ US, who shared advice and great ideas on how to take control of third-party delivery. The panel presented to an audience of close to 300 professionals during the annual Marketing Executives Group conference of Restaurant Association. Geoff Alexander, president of Wow Bao, moderated.

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Networking is one of the biggest benefits of the National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group annual conference.

Great ideas and insights:

  • It’s important to understand: Delivery is a different dining occasion. It’s not dine-in, it’s not drive-thru or carryout, said Miller of Le Pain Quotidien. Customer expectations are different when it comes to delivery. Food quality expectations may be less strict as well because customers take delivery time into consideration, and they are willing to pay more for the convenience.
  • Being included on a delivery app platform is a marketing tool; it exposes your brand to new customers who find you through the app.
  • Dunkin’s Blackwell relies on the weather app on her phone. Whenever and wherever it’s raining, it’s time to shoot out a local marketing coupon or special promotion on Facebook to jump-start delivery activity.
  • Be nice to drivers and make every effort to make pick-up easy. Drivers choosing which orders to deliver can “swipe left” on yours if they don’t like to pick up from your restaurant. Look into:
    -- easy parking for quick in-and-out access
    -- a separate entry so drivers aren’t in line with on-premises customers
    -- separate, clearly marked counters for pick up, or a pick-up shelf
    -- training employees to be nice to drivers. If a business treats the driver as a partner rather than a pain, the driver is likely to pick up your restaurant’s delivery orders ahead of others. Offer a soda!
    -- Try this: Send your employees out with a driver one day to see what they encounter at restaurants around town. Which restaurants make pick-up easy? Which make it hard? Why?
  • Make sure labels on the packages you send out for delivery note the time the food was packed and ready to go. If a delivery is delayed, this helps you show when your restaurant had the food ready and could help deflect complaints.
  • Set delivery “minimum” incentives. If you order $25 of food for delivery through GrubHub, Wow Bao includes a free order of pot stickers. Technomic’s Wilson agreed minimum offers are good and added that it’s smart to include a few items on your menu that are priced to make it easy for guests to reach that minimum order without spending too much more to get to it.
  • Assign one person to be an order checker to ensure every order is right and has all the right condiments, napkins, utensils, etc. Naf Naf Grill does this with great success, says Wilson.

Brick-and-mortar restaurants can fulfill delivery through companies such as Kitchen United, shared kitchen spaces set up to prepare and package your food for delivery only. For example, as traditional retail yields market share to online retail, mall-staple Wetzel’s Pretzels is getting into delivery by producing its menu out of a shared kitchen space and is doing a brisk business in snack-centric corporate catering.