Delivery apps were already trending upward before the pandemic, but since 2020, their rise has been meteoric. And though many companies have altruistic motives for helping small businesses weather the pandemic shutdowns, the benefits don’t always outweigh the costs.
So how can a business owner encourage guests to order directly from their restaurant? It can be difficult, especially with the evolving techniques the app companies use to gain market share, but there are some techniques that may help.
Determine Your Delivery Capabilities
First, it’s important to assess what you can offer, realistically, in terms of in-house delivery. As the transition from shutdown to open dining rooms moves forward, many operators are finding staffing extremely difficult, and that may prohibit offering a robust delivery service. Make sure, if you are going to offer delivery through your restaurant, that you know exactly what you can do and in what timeframe so that you can communicate clearly with your customers. Once you hit capacity, it may be necessary to turn off ordering until you catch up, and this is something that can be off-putting to customers, so plan wisely.
Promote Special Menu Items and Lower Prices
Because of their fee structure, orders on third-party apps are typically more expensive than those placed directly with the restaurant. So, spread the word that ordering directly from your business is a way for customers to save money on the delivery items that they would be ordering anyway.
In addition to savings, consider offering a few items that are only available via direct delivery. Think of it like a secret menu—another concept that was trending pre-pandemic. Customers like the exclusivity and excitement of secret menus, and direct delivery can provide a great opportunity to create such an offering.
Communicate with Your Customers
Often consumers don’t understand the intricacies of working with a third-party delivery service. They see convenience and may even assume that it’s usually advantageous to small businesses to order delivery this way. The best way to address this is with open and honest communication. Share your experience with your followers on social media and in your e-newsletter, and let them know how direct delivery benefits your operation.