By Tina Giordanella, Contributing Writer
As with anything, there are always various factors in considering having your own online ordering system for restaurants. COVID-19 hasn’t just changed the way we live; it’s forever changed the way that many of us will do business. Numerous government-mandated business closures across the country have been detrimental to so many companies, from major airlines to small retailers. The restaurant industry is arguably the most financially devastated sector of all, with countless bars and eateries being forced to reduce their hours, lay off employees, limit their services to pickup and delivery only, or close their doors for good. To some extent, online ordering systems have been somewhat of a saving grace for a lot of local restaurant owners, because they allow these businesses to continue operations, even if it’s on a limited basis.
However, as it’s been recently revealed, many of the existing major restaurant ordering and food delivery apps take more than a little of their fair share off the top for each order, leaving local restaurant owners still in the red.
If you’re a restaurant owner and are finding yourself in a similar situation amidst this global health crisis, here are five reasons why your restaurant needs its own online ordering system.
Reason #1: Third-Party Delivery Services Eat up Profits
Third-party food delivery apps may have started off with good intentions to help local restaurants expand their businesses by fulfilling orders online in a timely and reliable fashion. But somewhere down the line, they started taking advantage of their growing popularity and the demand for their delivery services by charging customers and business owners what many see as unnecessarily high processing fees, while also taking a large portion of restaurant order profits.
The expansive growth of food delivery apps like Uber Eats and SkipTheDishes has not only led to a massive influx and oversaturation in the industry, but it’s also increased the risk of potential corruption and lack of proper oversight and no accountability. Far too often, customers have launched complaints against these services that their food arrived cold, extremely late, or that it had been tampered with by the delivery driver.
This seeming lack of oversight and accountability for these third-party restaurant delivery companies doesn’t just leave a bad taste in customers’ mouths; it also negatively impacts the reputations of the local restaurants they represent.
But due to the government-mandated shutdown or restricted operations of non-essential businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants that don’t have a well-established online presence or website have been forced to collaborate with the very third-party food delivery apps that are also eating up 33% of their profits off the top.
Fan of Local aims to provide an alternative by helping restaurants and other local businesses create robust online ordering platforms that directly connect customers to the businesses they want to support by cutting out the “middleman.”
Reason #2: Retain Your Own Employees
By creating and managing your own online ordering system, you can rest assured that even in times of major health and economic crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, you won’t have to lay off as many of your employees. Instead, you can retain your existing employees and keep them on the payroll by slightly restructuring your business model to suit your current needs.
Rather than contracting out to a pool of independent delivery personnel or paying an outrageous processing/order fulfillment fee, you can make a few necessary adjustments, like offering up delivery positions to your existing waitstaff. That way, you can ensure consistent food and service quality at all times, because you can train your own staff and directly manage their hygiene practices and commitment to your restaurant’s food and service standards. All without losing a large portion of your profits to a third-party ordering service such as Uber Eats, SkipTheDishes, or DoorDash, to name a few.
Additionally, some of your employees won’t have to worry about being indefinitely laid off, whether they qualify for EI, CERB, or how they’re going to pay their bills or put food on their own tables. Strictly from the business owner perspective, keeping employees on also preserves the investment you’ve made in your existing staff, such as recruitment and training.
Reason #3: Keep Your Business Dealings Local
The ability to support local communities is a great source of pride for the majority of small business owners, particularly restaurateurs. From hiring local employees to ensuring that all ingredients and products are locally sourced, maintaining these connections and transactions helps to strengthen the local economy and keep it going, even during the hard times.
The money and resources you spend supporting local farmers and suppliers will be directly put back into the local economy, rather than lining the pocket of a well-to-do business executive in another country. On top of that, other local businesses and community members will be more inclined to continue to order from and recommend your restaurant to others.
Eventually, perhaps you can even expand your offerings to your own branded food delivery app, which can help you keep better track of and maintain control over orders and deliveries to maintain top-notch service quality.
Reason #4: Improve Order Accuracy
One major advantage of establishing your own online ordering system for your restaurant is that you’ll ultimately have greater control over order fulfillment and service quality.
You can also establish strong customer connections by allowing them to review your restaurant and responding directly to those comments.
Since this method also allows you to retain more of your own employees, they also have more of a vested interest in the success and growth of the business. Therefore, your employees will also have a greater incentive to ensure customer satisfaction and that all orders are accurately put together and delivered or ready for pickup within a reasonable timeframe.
While some restaurants that normally do just dine-in and/or walk-in services are attempting to stay afloat by doing delivery, they are finding this new reality difficult to manage. Many of these restaurants that don’t have their own web ordering system and that aren’t using a food delivery app are just taking orders via phone or straight email. Potential customers are finding it hard to reach some restaurants by phone. And straight-up email ordering, without a web-based selectable menu, can lead to miscommunication and unnecessary back and forth.
A customized online ordering platform allows customers to view your complete menu, select the items they want at the click of a mouse or by using their touch screen, and make necessary order adjustments based on food preferences and allergies. The order then goes directly to your business email and you can print out orders or display them as needed. It’s all very clear and easy to use on both ends. Like having your very own SkipTheDishes, without having to pay a third party to manage it for you.
Reason #5: Ensure the Safety of Your Staff & Customers
By implementing your online ordering system and using your own staff for restaurant deliveries, you maintain control over an element of staff and customer safety on which the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight: hygiene.
If you’re using your own staff members for delivery, you can run them through rigorous health and safety training, including how to maintain proper social distancing while delivering and how to live up to strict hygiene standards, such as rules for touchless delivery, proper handwashing, and the appropriate use of masks, gloves, and sanitizer. You can also manage their adherence to these guidelines on a daily basis.
If you’re using a third-party service, you cannot control who is picking up and delivering the food and what measures they’re using to keep themselves or the customers safe.
In the food delivery business, all of this is now necessary for several reasons:
- To remain a responsible and safe business
- To protect all of your employees and customers from transmittable illness
- To uphold your restaurant’s reputation in the neighbourhood
- To retain a loyal customer base
- To be able to stay in business in any economic environment, including future epidemics or pandemics
If you’re interested in establishing your own online ordering system, but aren’t sure where to start or are lacking the funds due to COVID-19 difficulties, Fan of Local is here to help. Our ClickDuo web development team is committed to creating free basic ordering websites for local businesses that are trying to stay afloat as they navigate their way through these unprecedented COVID-19 times. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your restaurant or other business flourish today and in the future.