How The Work From Home Increase Has Affected Restaurants | Rise in Delivery

// By Malika Wichner // , Aug 21, 2023

Topics: Restaurant Operations

Even though the lockdowns have ended, the number of workers that have maintained a full work-from-home(WFH) schedule remains at an all-time high. This has changed the restaurant climate significantly. From a rise in delivery to changing dining habits, the pandemic has caused undeniable changes in the service industry. In order to maintain a successful business you have to be able to pivot your business models to reflect economic and societal changes. Over 50% of adults say takeout and delivery services are essential at this point. Here, we're going to help explain how the WFH culture directly affects your service business. 

Dinner Spike Starts Earlier Than Ever


For a long time dinner reservations used to be at capacity between 8 PM and 9 PM. Now, do the increase in work-from-home and the overall change in the average person's daily schedule. Because of this, studies are showing that guests are choosing to make dinner reservations as early as 4 PM with 7 PM being the average most popular time. 


What this means to restaurant owners and managers is that you should be planning your day accordingly. If you typically staff a bit lighter during lunch time then you may want to take a look at when your dinner shift employees start to make sure you're prepared for the dinner rush. The last thing you want is to keep guests waiting too long and either lower their experience rating or force them to choose to dine elsewhere. 


If you are a business that is only open for dinner, then take a closer look at your local environment and consider opening a bit earlier than usual to ensure you maximize your profit potential. 


High Demand for Delivery

One of the major ways the increase in people working from home has impacted restaurants is that the demand for delivery services has skyrocketed. This has made third-party apps like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats as popular as ever. Restaurants that don't offer any delivery options, rather through a third-party app or night, for customers are going to be at a disadvantage.  


It is worth mentioning, however, that restaurants looking to offer takeout or begin delivering meals will likely face issues along the way if the process is new for them. For example, working with a third-party application can be costly and comes with logistical issues like how to receive the orders or how to package the orders. 


This means if you're not offering carryout or delivery options your restaurant might be missing out on staying relevant and making profits.


Ordering Takeout For Lunch jumped 37% in 2020 and is still going strong. 


In-House Restaurant Delivery vs Third-Party Delivery Apps

Should you have an in-house delivery service or should you go through a third-party app? That is the big question when offering delivery options are your restaurant. 


In-House Delivery

One of the main pros of creating an in-house delivery service for your restaurant is that it takes away the idea that the customer may think of the delivery service before your business. Meaning, customers will have to intentionally choose to order from you instead of mindlessly scrolling through tons of food options and landing on you. This can help create more return business and overall brand loyalty and visibility.

On average, maintaining your own delivery team is typically cheaper than using the services of third-party apps. So, you will also boost your revenue since you're collecting 100% of the profits from each meal served.


In addition, using your own delivery team gives your staff complete control over the consumer's dining experience. From ordering and meal preparation to delivery and payment. 


But, while there are several benefits to creating and maintaining your own delivery team, this option may not be practical or even feasible for every restaurant. The time and/or money to create, train, and execute a delivery service may not be an option for several reasons. And if you don't have a successfully trained team this may do more hurt than anything to your profits. If you run a smaller business, then you most likely don't want to spend the extra money on in-house delivery staff. Also, a third-party company with a low commission might be best to help spread awareness of your restaurant and attract new business. 


For more information about marketing your delivery options click here.


Third-Party Delivery

Basically a third-party food delivery company partners with restaurants to provide food to customers. You're only responsible for receiving the order, executing it correctly, and packaging it to be delivered. The third party also displays your menu so guests can easily find and browse it. Payment is also collected through the app. 


There are several advantages to using a third-party app. Not only will it help increase your brand's visibility and boost sales, these app companies allow you to minimize losing customers due to long wait times associated with phone orders. Choosing a third party is also a smart choice for managers and owners who don't want the responsibility of hiring and training an in-house delivery team.

However, there are important liability issues to consider when choosing to use a third-party service. Things like driver accidents, theft, food arriving in bad condition, and other issues can happen and are outside your control. 


We go more into increasing overall to-go order sales here.


Popular Third-Party Delivery Companies

  • DoorDash, which offers delivery tracking, easy reordering, the ability to schedule deliveries in advance, convenient online payment, and no order minimums.
  • Grubhub, which allows users to read menus, order, and pay via online platforms like Apple Pay and PayPal.
  • Postmates, a delivery service where the customer's order is called into restaurants by Postmates employees and then picked up and delivered. Postmates calls itself "The Uber for Stuff" and provides real-time tracking and deliveries from virtually every restaurant to almost any setting.
  • Uber Eats, an online ordering and delivery platform where users can view menus, have their location detected by GPS, order food, and pay online.
  • Caviar, which allows users to browse photos of restaurant menus and track their order in transit via real-time GPS.
  • Yelp Eat24, a service that faxes each customer's order to the restaurant of your choice within seconds. The app verifies that the establishment has receives the order and then picks up and delivers the food to you.

According to Zion & Zion, Grubhub is the most popular delivery app with about 37.8% of the market share. 


WFH Food DeliveryHow to Start Offering Delivery at Your Restaurant

If you don't currently offer delivery services but would like to start, here are a few tips to keep in mind: 


 1. Find a Designated Space for Delivery
It's a good idea to create a space just for delivery drivers to pick up orders. This was you're helping them bypass interrupting the line of waiting customers while also increasing efficiency. Double down and also make this space for customers that are picking up their own carry-out orders.

To be even more efficient, if there is space within your building, have a dedicated space for employees to package delivery and take-out orders only. 

2. Update Your Technology
Online ordering platforms make it simple and easy for potential customers to browse your menu, place orders, and pay digitally. This process has almost eliminated the need for people to take orders by phone. Mobile ordering apps have made it extremely convenient for customers to place orders no matter where they are. By updating your ordering technology, you can streamline your delivery service and attract new customers. Do your research to figure out which third-party apps work with your budget or look into the cost of operating delivery directly. 

3. Train Your Staff
If you choose to create your own delivery options, you must take the time to make a specific training program just for your delivery staff. You'll want to teach your delivery drivers how to use you're choice of delivery bags, how to load food and drink orders in their vehicle, and how to pass orders to customers safely.

If you use a third-party delivery service then you'll eliminate the need to train and/or hire your own drivers. However, don't forget you'll still need an in-house team that's responsible for packaging orders and getting them ready for pickup. It's recommended to designate a few team members just to handling with take-out orders. This staff must be trained to do things like check orders for accuracy, package them correctly and safely for transport, and include any necessary condiments or cutlery.  

4. Create a Delivery Menu
It's understandable that, depending on the type of restaurant you are and what food your offer, not everything on your full menu is good for takeout. This is why you should consider making a separate delivery menu to help simplify prep and packaging. Start by choosing from some of your most popular menu items but avoid foods that may not travel well in your carry-out containers.


You should also try asking your staff which meals and sides they think would be good additions to your delivery menu.


Click here to learn more about how to increase alcohol sales during to-go orders plus popular to-go cocktails.


5. Stock Delivery Supplies
These orders have to go out in something. So you're going to need to stock up on take-out containers, utensils, napkins, lids, cups, condiments, and potentially insulated food delivery bags. You do not want your staff to run out of these items and be unable to complete orders. this will cause you to have to refund the order and leave the customer with a lasting bad impression on your business. 


Don't forget to think about sustainable packaging!New call-to-action


Malika Wichner

About the author, Malika Wichner

Malika is the Marketing Content Manager for Backbar. Prior to creating content to link industry professionals to Backbar she worked as a bartender and server in Chicago. She enjoys red wine or an IPA with a good book in her free time.

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