Delivery Apps: The restaurant owner’s dilemma

Rapid changes in the economy mean restaurant owners need fresh approaches to marketing to find success. Unfortunately, our current microwave society has led to consumers who want their needs met at the drop of a dime without having to leave their home. While it’s true that technology makes dining out easier than ever before, restaurant owners are forced to wonder whether all this convenience is truly worth it.
At first glance, UberEats, DoorDash, and GrubHub seem like a restaurant owner’s dream. These services introduce restaurants to diners they may have otherwise never met, with little to no upfront costs, substantially growing their marketing reach. They also handle the payment process and make delivery possible for establishments of any size. While these are all great, unfortunately, delivery services rarely grow your business the way you think they should unless you know how to make it work in your favor. The big question is, can these services help your brand and bring more quality customers to your brick and mortar establishment?

The problem with the food delivery economy

In a New York Times article, restaurant owners talked about the problems of services such as GrubHub, Seamless, UberEats, and DoorDash, suggesting that their involvement is ‘more complicated than consumers realize.’  While the services did increase the number of deliveries, the restaurant’s profitability continued to decrease. This shouldn’t be a surprise since many companies pay as much as 40% of their revenue to third-party platforms and couriers such as these. 

The loss of revenue from meal delivery apps is a known and growing concern amongst most restaurant owners. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away. In the New Yorker article, Are Delivery Apps Killing Restaurants, delivery apps accounted for 7% of US sales in 2016. Imagine how much things have grown and changed since then!

The other problem with this trend is that delivery sales tend to grossly replace sit-down orders, which are more lucrative than take-out sales. When you consider how much thirty percent delivery charge is when compared to the amount of expenses a restaurant must take on, it’s easy to see how each order can far exceed this cost. So again, who is really winning in this situation?

Certainly not restaurants, it seems.

Growing your business with delivery apps 

Despite the inherent problems with delivery apps, restaurant owners still need ways to meet customer needs and grow their devoted fans. Here’s how you can use this technology to your advantage. 

Use delivery apps sparingly

Most delivery apps give you the option to decide when you are available for new orders.  Use it. Schedule deliveries only when you are traditionally slow and limit the items that you offer. Use the service to introduce your menu, not provide the entire buffet. 

Create a clear brand for your restaurant 

What is unique about your business in comparison to others in the same field? What makes you stand out, so customers want to dine in your restaurant rather than prefer a delivery service? Use your profile as a way to be memorable among potential diners, so that they want to return and dine in. 

Entice customers to order directly

In addition to using delivery apps, it is also a good idea to use other forms of marketing to convince diners to dine in, thereby skipping the delivery service. Loyalty programs that reward diners for their repeat business are an easy way to encourage repeat customers. You can also create experiences such as free Wi-Fi or sponsored events to get on the fence diners into your establishment. 

For an easy way to get started, reach out to local social groups, and offer your restaurant area for events. Chances are, some of the attendees might have seen your name on one of the delivery services and are more likely to attend the event.  Once you’ve planned some events, publicize them with every delivery order by including a simple flyer in the package. Whether you host an event, or provide some other incentive, the goal is converting your delivery service customers into your customers.

Delivery isn’t going anywhere, but people are loyal to food not apps   

As dire as the situation may seem, delivery apps are likely here to stay. Restaurant owners simply need to find a way to work with them. 

Instead of watching your profits walk out the door and into the car of a food courier, focus on using this technology to build your brand, while also building your local marketing through other methods. 

At the end of the day, customers love good food and service. If you offer an unforgettable experience with food preparation and taste that stands out and events that fulfill their needs, you will build a bigger, more intriguing brand that attracts your ideal customer right to your door.

 Delivery apps are popular because they make it easy for guests to order their next meal. With custom solutions such as Craver, ordering from your restaurant can be just as effortless as opening one of these popular apps. So, go ahead, sign up for those meal delivery apps and get your name out there, then encourage diners to use your app instead.

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