In the past few years, third-party delivery platforms (Also referred to as food-delivery service apps) like Uber Eats, DoorDash, GrubHub, and Skip have been a crucial tool for many restaurants as more and more people are opting for the convenience of ordering food online vs in-house dining. This customer transition toward takeout/to-go orders and using third-party delivery services is only expected to continue, as Grand View Research determined the global food delivery market is projected to grow from an expected $215 billion this year to $389 billion in 2028.
While the concern from many restaurant operators still exists that these extra orders gained simply increase overall restaurant revenue while having little impact on actual new revenue growth due to delivery app fees, when executed strategically, third-party delivery has been a successful (and profitable) tool for many modern restaurants.
Below is a brief list of tips on how to increase your restaurant delivery sales and profits:
1. Improve Your Restaurants Food Photography
A study conducted by Meero, a company that helps restaurants hire local professional food photographers found that using “Photo-based menus on online food ordering platforms increases a restaurants conversion rate by 25% compared to text menus”.
When potential customers are browsing your online menu, your restaurant can’t rely on recommendations from your staff to guide their decision and upsell orders - But using creative high-resolution images from a professional food photographer helps keep visitors on your online menu longer, enticing them to stick around and complete their order as they can almost smell the food they are seeing through their screen. If you don’t have the budget for a professional food photographer, here are some tips on to improve your restaurants food photography skills and complete the task yourself.
To further improve your online menu, It is also smart to put a brief description of the dishes mentioning some of the ingredients (helps those with food allergies) and flavors. Combined with attractive imagery, this can really help your restaurants increase its order conversion rate and upsell your signature items.
2. Promote your Food Delivery to Dine-In Customers
According to Lending Tree, 45% of all Americans used online food delivery in the past year with an average delivery spend of $2K per year. Your restaurant's most loyal customers use on-demand food delivery - make sure that they know your offer to-go and third-party delivery so you don’t miss out on their business.
There are several simple ways to subtly run a food delivery promo to your existing customers including:
- QR Code Flyers - When your server brings your guest their receipt, have them hand out a small QR code-based flyer with simple instructions on how to order from your website.
- Restaurant Email Marketing - Even if only sent monthly, sending emails to your current and new customers with personalized offers and deals has proven to be a successful, but low-cost technique for many restaurants. For tips on how to build your restaurant's email list, check out this article from Grubhub.
- Tabletop signage - If you already have restaurant tabletop sign holders, try rotating in messaging to promote your food delivery business. Including a special deal like 10% off their first online order with you via a coupon code can help you increase orders and track the return on your efforts.
3. Add a Virtual Restaurant Concept
Want to extend your kitchen’s delivery hours after-hours without confusing your in-house guests? Located in a college town and want to promote your famous chicken wings during game days? Creating a virtual brand helps you accomplish these items and so much more.
Using the same kitchen you can launch a virtual kitchen brand (also known as a ghost kitchen) to boost sales during slow dine-in hours. Some of the benefits of focusing your online efforts on promoting this secondary brand include the ability to limit menu items to those that maximize profits and transport well, run specials you may not want to include to in-house diners, and the ability to offer off-brand items that may not fit your primary brand's menu.
According to an article by Restaurant Dive, “41% of independent restaurants currently operate at least one virtual brand to leverage persistent customer delivery growth” and “on average, independent restaurants that utilize virtual brands offer five unique virtual concepts”.
Many restaurants that are hesitant on opening up a virtual brand are concerned with their ability to effectively manage multiple brands given their limited resources available. But with tools like ItsaCheckmate, they can sync all of their digital menus and online orders directly into their POS / Kitchen Printer, essentially automating the management of their entire delivery business regardless of the number of brands they operate.
4. Provide Exclusive Offers to Increase Delivery Orders
Customers love offers, period. Ordering platforms like Doordash recognize this and have special programs set up to help you increase your visibility on Doordash using promotions. If you’re not sure which promotions to try for your takeout and delivery business, here are a couple of common promotional offers to increase your restaurant delivery sales:
- Percentage discount: 15% off for an order of $50 or more
- Free delivery: $0 delivery fee on orders of $30 or more
- Make sure the order minimum is priced high enough to account for the delivery app fees
- Free or discounted item: Order two entrees and get a free appetizer
- Limit free appetizer choices to improve profits
Experiment with a few discount types until you find out what works best for you. Wondering how you can afford to offer food promotions on top of the delivery fees taken out by third-party delivery companies? Check out this article from Back of House that discusses raising pricing on delivery menus vs your in-house menu to offset these costs.
5. Online and Social Media Marketing for Restaurants
For restaurants, social media marketing can play a crucial role. The right mix of social media strategies can help your business to reach out to your target audience with a smaller budget than what is often required with traditional media advertising.
From simple programs to advanced techniques like enticing your competitor's customers to you by geo-targeting visitors that walk into their restaurants during times known to have long wait times with your ads. Learn more about restaurant geo-marketing in this article by Fast Casual.
Platforms like Facebook allow you to easily narrow down your audience by proximity to your restaurant's location, age, preferences, and more. Here are a couple of restaurant social media post ideas to try:
- Create holiday and event based campaigns.
- Have live music on Fridays? Try setting up a campaign that runs every Thursday - Friday to target local foodies with an interest in live music.
- Run a sports bar? Around game days, try targetting foodies who have interests in ESPN, Fox Sports Radio, and your local professional football Team.
- Target your own audience.
- Looking to build loyal customers. Target those already interested in your restaurant with promotions like Happy Hours to increase repeat in-house visits and orders.
If you don’t want to learn a new advertising program or simply don’t have the time to manage your restaurant's social media strategy, try hiring a social media agency or freelancer who can assist you in developing your campaigns. Once your messaging and campaigns are established, you can always take these campaigns on yourself over time to lower your costs.
For more information on restaurant social media marketing, check out this helpful guide from Toast POS. In addition to social media, also remember to include Restaurant Direct, the no setup or service fee platform for SMB Restaurants that works with Order with Google. Restaurant Direct turns “food delivery near me” searches made on Google directly into tickets in your kitchen via a seamless customer experience.
6. Simplify Delivery Operations
A common challenge operators face when trying to scale their online delivery is retaining a consistent delivery experience over time. Some of the most common problems to overcome are:
- Orders on delivery tablets are oftentimes inconsistently accepted and transferred into a restaurant's POS for processing. This leads to drivers arriving before the food order is ready - which if done regularly can lower your restaurant's standings in the delivery apps, thus resulting in reduced order volume over time.
- Manual order entry errors often occur on modifiers selected like swapping onion rings for fries or not including tomatoes in a sandwich. When customers receive an incorrect order, it leads to customer complaints, lower repeat orders, and potential revenue loss in order to make it right for them.
- Utilizing multiple delivery apps often increases total online ordering volume as your restaurant will show up in front of additional customers - but inconsistent management of multiple menus across each of your delivery service partners often results in menu errors and increases labor costs. Something as common and simple as updating menu items on multiple platforms due to availability of a particular item becomes a time-intensive distraction to busy staff members.
Utilizing technology though can solve all of these problems - restaurant POS integration tools like ItsaCheckmate automatically accept online orders on your staff's behalf and sync them into your POS system so the order arrives at your kitchen printer (in your standard format) without any need for manual intervention. This eliminates the need for delivery tablets and eliminates manual order entry errors.
Expanding to multiple delivery platforms is easy with an enhanced menu management tool that enables you to update items, descriptions, photos, modifiers, pricing, availability, prep-time, delivery fees, & more in your POS. Any changes made in your POS will be automatically synced with all of your selected platforms.
Online Ordering POS Integration & Menu Management Software
ItsaCheckmate helps restaurant operators address many of the points listed above and allows restaurants of all sizes to integrate their third-party orders directly into their POS system. On average, new customers increase their online ordering volume by 39% within just 60 days.
Our easy-to-use tool simplifies online menu management and integrates 100+ ordering platforms including UberEats, DoorDash, GrubHub, Slice, Waitr, ChowNow, and EZCater directly into your POS.