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The need for delivery and takeout has increased dramatically since the outbreak of COVID-19. But setting up a delivery option can be confusing and sometimes costly. In our continued quest to help independent businesses thrive, we at Gravity have spent the last few months researching the best options for restaurants to set up delivery without paying huge fees or giving up control of the customer experience. Here’s what we found.

2 Main Ways to Deliver

There are two main options restaurants have to offer delivery.

  1. Third-party apps: Third-party apps like Uber Eats and Grubhub allow restaurants to offer delivery without having to manage the process themselves. Drivers are managed and paid by the app, and it’s easy for restaurants to join the service and start accepting delivery orders right away. Because these apps are so popular, they also provide built-in marketing by making it easy for customers who are already using the app to search for and find your restaurant. The downside of these apps is that they often charge high fees–as much as 30% per transaction. Given the low margins in the industry, this can make it hard for restaurants to break even, let alone turn a profit, on these orders. Additionally, because the app manages the process, the restaurant can’t control the customer experience but is often blamed if something goes wrong. In extreme cases, there have also been reports of these apps engaging in shady business practices like listing restaurants on their platforms without permission or siphoning tips from drivers.
  2. Self-managed delivery: Before the advent of third-party apps, restaurants who wanted to offer delivery were forced to manage the whole process themselves. Although this is more complicated, it offers several advantages, such as allowing you to keep all of your profits and control the customer experience from start to finish. Thankfully, new technology is making it easier than ever before to manage your own delivery while still realizing these major benefits.

Self-Managed Delivery 2.0

As part of our effort to educate restaurant owners on alternatives to traditional third-party delivery apps, a small group of Gravity employees got together to research other options. In the process, they came across QuestTag, an app that integrates directly with a restaurant’s online-ordering system and allows them to accept delivery while managing the experience themselves. It’s a little more complex than a third-party app, but the cost savings and control can often be worth it.

Here’s how it works:

  • Set up online ordering. If you don’t already have an online-ordering system, you’ll need to set one up. Gravity offers a few low-cost options that are easy to set up and use. Give us a call at (206) 388-5900 x530 or schedule an appointment with one of our product specialists to learn more.
  • Sign up for QuestTag.; QuestTag allows customers to order delivery directly through your existing online-ordering system. You can try the service for free, but even if you end up accepting a lot of deliveries, you’ll only be charged 10 cents per transaction. And, for a limited time, new customers who use the code Gravity2020 can get the full service free for three months.
  • Start accepting deliveries: Once you register with QuestTag, customers can select delivery through your online ordering site. When a new order comes in, you will receive a notification via your QuestTag app. Once the order is ready to be sent out, you can notify your driver through the app. The driver will pick up the order and be guided to the address directly through the app. They can take a picture to confirm delivery, and you’re all set.

Making the Most of Delivery

There’s no one right solution for every restaurant, and some owners may prefer paying more for the convenience and built-in marketing of a third-party app. If you’re looking to make the most of your delivery options, however, there are a few things you can try.

  • Try both third-party and self-managed options. If you’re new to delivery, you may consider listing your restaurant on the major third-party apps to attract new customers and then directing repeat customers to order directly through you. This allows you to market to new customers while still retaining some of the revenue on delivery orders. Now is also a great time to educate your customers on the advantages of ordering directly through you. You can even refer them to the chart below for more info.
  • Expand your offering. In addition to your existing menu, consider offering meal kits or groceries for delivery. The great thing about these services is that customers can order them in advance–or even on a recurring/subscription basis–so you can manage multiple orders on a regular delivery schedule. This also allows you to offer new products to your clients–something you couldn’t do if they were just dining in.
  • Use existing employees. If you’re currently operating at reduced capacity but trying to keep your staff on the payroll, consider letting some of your team members drive for you instead of or in addition to their regular job. This will allow you to work with someone you trust without having to hire anyone new.
  • Work with your neighbors. Do you know another restaurant in your area that wants to offer delivery? Consider sharing a driver or two with them to reduce costs and get started. 
  • Consider drink delivery. Before delivering alcoholic beverages, you’ll have to check the laws in your state, but many restaurants have seen success offering to-go drinks with food purchases. Customers love them, and it’s a great way to make extra money on an order. You could also offer batched or larger-format drinks instead of just single servings.

If you’re interested in learning more about online-ordering and delivery options or aren’t sure what product is the best fit for your business, feel free to reach out to us at (206) 388-5900 x530 or schedule an appointment with one of our restaurant-industry specialists.

For three free months of QuestTag’s delivery facilitation service, visit www.questtag.com and enter code Gravity2020.

By Brooke Carey, Lead Storyteller

This post was adapted from “Food Delivery on Your Terms: An Alternate, Low-Cost Solution for Restaurants,” part of the free Gravity Talks webinar program. For more information on past and upcoming webinars, visit www.gravitypayments.com/talks.

Photo by Norma Mortenson from Pexels

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