How To Streamline the Use of Online Ordering Platforms in Your Restaurants
Food delivery in the restaurant industry is growing. In fact, by the year 2025, it’s predicted to be a $192.16 billion market. So, if your restaurant is not offering online ordering and delivery now, there’s a high probability that you’ll be doing so in the future.
To help future you and any operators already offering delivery services, we put together a guide on managing online ordering systems to make it a smoother experience.
We’ll cover choosing the right restaurant delivery platform, streamlining your online ordering service, directing delivery drivers, training staff, and managing customer feedback.
Let’s dive in.
Choosing The Right Online Ordering System
Rather than covering delivery platforms individually, we’ll cover what factors you should look for when choosing a platform (or multiple platforms) that will work for your restaurant.
- Service Fees and Commissions: Do a deep dive into what it will cost you per delivery on each platform. Third-party apps are notoriously expensive, so be sure to do your homework before you commit.
- Customer Support: This is a big one—if your system is down, you’re not making money, and doubly bad, customers won’t be happy. Partner with companies that have awesome CS ratings, and you’ll weather the storm.
- Market Penetration and Customer Base: Consider the popularity and reach of the platform in your area. A platform with a large customer base can offer more exposure and potentially bring in more orders.
- Delivery Area Coverage: Ensure that the platform’s delivery area aligns with your part of town. Large areas can be beneficial, but you also want to maintain food quality, which can be compromised over long distances.
After you’ve found a delivery service you like, integrate it (connect it with your POS, etc.) and acclimate your staff to operations. Once everyone has a solid grasp of delivery operations, you can add multiple delivery platforms.
Streamlining Multiple Online Ordering Platforms
There’s a massive advantage to using multiple delivery platforms. Customers tend to stick with one delivery company, meaning you’re missing out on thousands of potential customers, and the chances of them looking to see if you’re on another platform are unlikely.
Partnering with multiple companies covers your bases to reach a wider audience and allows you to evaluate and compare different delivery apps. If you don’t like how one operates, you can leave without dropping delivery as a service altogether.
Multiple platforms also mean that you can still use the others to reach customers if one system crashes.
Handling orders from multiple delivery platforms can be challenging, especially when juggling in-house and delivery orders. Here are some strategies to streamline this process:
- Centralized Order Management System: Implementing a system that consolidates orders from all platforms into a single interface can significantly reduce confusion and errors. This allows the kitchen staff to view and process all orders cohesively, whatever the source.
- Dedicated Delivery Staff or Zone: Assigning specific staff members or a dedicated area in the kitchen to handle online orders can enhance efficiency. This approach ensures that online orders are prepared and packaged without disrupting the flow of in-house service.
- Optimize the Menu for Delivery: Don’t feel obligated to offer your entire menu. Some foods don’t deliver well (I’m looking at you fried and breaded foods). Paring down your menu to easy-to-make and package foods can ease the pressure on your team.
Managing Third-Party Delivery Drivers
Drivers are kind of a wild card because they work for the delivery company, not your restaurant, but there are steps you can take to make your partnership more efficient.
- Designated Pickup Zones: Establish specific areas for delivery driver pickups. Strategically place these zones to minimize disruption to in-house dining and facilitate quick and easy access for drivers. Clear signage can guide drivers to designated areas, reducing confusion and congestion, like at the host stand.
- Streamlined Handoff Procedures: Develop an easy system for giving drivers orders. Possibly a dedicated staff member responsible for checking orders, ensuring they are packed correctly, and coordinating with drivers. This minimizes errors and speeds up the delivery process.
- Effective Communication: When problems arise, communicate with drivers directly or through the delivery platform’s messaging system. Promptly address any queries or issues they have, as this can significantly impact delivery times and customer happiness.
Training Staff for Online Ordering Systems
If you’re training staff for delivery for the first time, place some of your stronger employees on the station. You can’t always be there, but if you have rockstar members who take direction well, they can help lead others.
Be prepared for the first couple of shifts to be wonky, but you’ll quickly see what works and what doesn’t. Here are a few more ways to empower your staff:
- Understand the App: Before training your staff, take the strong team members and thoroughly learn the app’s features and functionalities. They should be comfortable placing orders, tracking deliveries, managing menus, and handling customer queries.
- Set Clear Operation Guidelines: Show staff how to communicate with drivers and customers. Set up a protocol for peak hours when delivery might interfere with in-house orders. This might mean going down to one platform to ease pressure on staff or shutting apps off altogether for specific hours.
- Monitor and Evaluate: Keep an eye on staff and the delivery service’s performance. Ask staff their opinion and be open to suggestions for ways to improve.
Complaints are inevitable, and many problems might be entirely out of your control, but it’s still your responsibility to resolve the issue.
Here are the best steps to keep customers happy:
- Acknowledge and Determine the Issue: Respond immediately and establish if the error was your restaurant’s or the third-party app’s fault.
- Apologize and Empathize: Even if the issue was beyond your control (like delays caused by the delivery service), a sincere apology can go a long way in calming a frustrated customer.
- Collaborate with the Delivery Service: If the issue is related to the delivery aspect, collaborate with the third-party delivery service to understand what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future.
- Offer a Resolution: Depending on the complaint, offer a suitable resolution. This could be a refund, a discount on a future order, or a replacement order. If the error was driver-related, be sure the platform plays its part in fixing the matter.
The most challenging part of a delivery service is setting up and smoothing out operations. Following this guide will help you avoid many of the headaches plaguing restaurants initially, and your team will be well on its way to sending out orders like a well-oiled machine.