Dishing on delivery: From the Editor’s Desk
By Colleen Cross
I recently watched an episode of CBC’s Marketplace that pitted three third-party delivery services in Toronto against each other to win over young food bloggers.
The focus was on speed and quality. The young people ordered food from the same restaurants and tracked delivery times and quality of service. Those who received the fastest and best food from the same eatery scored the most points.
There was no clear winner and all participants expressed the view that food is better eaten in the restaurant soon after being prepared. No surprises there.
What did surprise me a little was that some of the restaurants placed a surcharge on their orders – that’s on top of the deliverer’s service charge. The bloggers and the show’s host were surprised too.
After the operators explained this was the only way they could make a profit on these items, after paying about 30 per cent of their sales to the central services, I understood why they made that move, as did everyone on the television episode.
There was a sense of goodwill towards the restaurants – or at least a growing awareness of the challenges they face, but it seems a fine line to walk between making a profit and alienating customers. Maybe it’s simply what you have to do to compete online and be where those customers can find you. Do you “mark up” or charge extra for items delivered via these services? Have any of your customers questioned the practice?
Regardless, the television exercise led me to three takeaways:
- Your customers know most food tastes better served fresh from the oven. If you are a sit-down place, focus on drawing them into your shop. This could be as simple a move as offering free Wi-Fi or as involved as offering a vegan or Keto diet option to make your place “group-friendly.” It’s also something to remember when planning a redesign. As restaurant designer Jen Agg has said, eating out is only partly about the food.
- Although having food delivered can be a lot more expensive than eating out, your customers are willing to pay for the convenience. That’s clear.
- Even after feeling “sticker shock,” I doubt customers will change their habits much. But they may appreciate the low (or no) fees many pizzerias charge to deliver using their own staff. Educate and motivate them – gently or cheekily – and they may come directly to you for their next delivery order.
Love ’em, hate ’em, or tolerate ’em, the UberEats, Skip the Dishes and Foodoras of the world are shaking up the delivery scene. We’ll explore this trend in depth in 2019 – through feature articles in the magazine and through one of several themed enewsletters going out to our online subscribers (these go out free to subscribers every second Thursday and you can sign up anytime). Podcasts, stories of our two Chefs of the Year, and stories of pizzerias across Canada – we’ve got lots planned for 2019. Stay tuned!
We wish you success, happiness and peace this busy holiday season – and time and energy to enjoy it all with those you hold dear!