With the COVID-19 pandemic causing restaurants in most areas to close in-house dining facilities, choosing to add online ordering and delivery has become critical for business survival. Third-party and/or on-demand delivery services can be beneficial if they are integrated into your systems to help streamline ordering and retain ownership of your customer’s information. However, increased reliance on third-party delivery services impacts restaurant profitability, driving restaurant owners to set up their own delivery services to protect profits and reach more customers. Additionally, it's more profitable to cut out the middle-man. When setting up in-house delivery, restaurant owners need to consider the following five things to protect and optimize their business—and their staff—during the COVID-19 crisis.
Properly Allocate Staff to New Delivery-Oriented Functions
Since dine-in traffic is nonexistent during the pandemic, analyze the best way to reallocate your staff to offer delivery. First, determine the volume of delivery staff needed and what your schedule will look like (are you keeping the same operating hours, expanding, or reducing them?). Next, determine which staff members have the best fit, experience, and compatibility for what you are looking for in the new roles. Next, determine your top-performing staff and ask if they would be willing to switch job tasks until dine-in traffic resumes. Set up and execute a training program to teach these employees their new job functions and expectations. They will likely appreciate the hours and their skills being used in other ways until the pandemic passes.
If delivery demand is greater than what you can execute with current staff, hiring new delivery drivers may be necessary. Look for people with delivery experience, a good driving record, and the flexibility and willingness to work the hours you allocated
Ensure Protection with Insurance
New business avenues and staff requirements mean new risks and liabilities. Review your insurance policies to make sure you are covered for changing job tasks and expanding delivery options. Insurance that will be crucial for delivery operations includes:
- Commercial General Liability Insurance: It’s important to cover a wide range of common liabilities such as slips and falls, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.
- Auto Insurance: It’s critical for delivery since this is how your staff will fulfill orders. You’ll need to protect your business when using company vehicles, to cover any potential accidents or injuries.
Provide Training and Security Measures to Protect Delivery Drivers
Staff training should include best practices to ensure that delivery is as safe as possible for your staff as well as your customers.
- For Delivery: No contact delivery is a growing trend amid COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Offering this option is not only appealing to customers but helps protect the health of your staff. Train staff fulfilling orders in this way—leaving the items on the doorstep or in the apartment lobby and letting the customer know when it has arrived via text or call.
- For Payment Collection: As with the delivery hand-off, customers and staff should avoid as much contact as possible when collecting payment. The best way to do this is by no contact payment: requesting that the order be paid by debit or credit card when it is placed. If this isn’t an option or you are also still collecting cash/curbside payments, train your staff on the best way to handle the process: wearing gloves, keeping their distance, keeping cash in a separate sealed container, and sanitizing the payment processor after each use.
Discuss and Encourage Delivery Driver Etiquette
Drivers should be sensitive to customer concerns over safety and remain as careful as possible. In addition to contactless delivery and maintaining social distancing, staff should be willing to wear masks and gloves if/when necessary. They should also make sure food is handled and packaged safely—with the smallest possible number of people involved in handling each order. Use wrapped silverware, napkins, and sealed drinks whenever possible. Look for label printers that can be used to seal orders to ensure it is secure and untampered with. Finally, have them wipe and sanitize their devices, packaging, and car after each shift. Providing masks, gloves, wipes, and sanitizer is a great way to ensure the safety of your staff and customers, as well as strengthening the message that you are doing everything you can to maximize safety.
Encourage your staff to be patient and flexible with customers during this time of uncertainty. They need to be willing to make adjustments as the situation evolves.
Streamline the Delivery Process with Technology
With the restaurant industry being impacted heavily by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to remain as efficient as possible. To best optimize delivery, leverage technology that will give you the visibility and control needed to maximize productivity. An integrated restaurant management system with point of sale (POS), online ordering, delivery, and loyalty built-in is the best choice. If it also integrates with third-party provider platforms, that’s even better.
Another useful feature is Google Maps integration, which can provide an operator view of all drivers, give drivers the fastest and shortest routes, and triage/speed up deliveries in real time. An integrated system will not only help you maximize needed revenue during the current crisis, but will also set you up for continued success when life becomes more normal again.
But even the best tech is only useful if you have good employees to do the work. Show your appreciation for staff who are willingly and diligently working during this national pandemic. A little appreciation goes a long way in retaining talented staff.
HungerRush is a leading provider of technology solutions designed specifically for restaurant needs. To find out more about how our solutions can keep you afloat through the pandemic and help you thrive afterward, request a demo today. And for more tips on getting your business through these changing times, check out our free Restaurant Survival Guide e-book.