8 delivery questions answered

Nov 28, 2023

The team at ChowNow partners with more than 20,000 restaurants and is staffed with over 500 years of combined in-restaurant experience. Safe to say – we are familiar with the evolving challenges of our restaurant partners and the growing conversation around delivery.

Typically, our restaurant partners want to know the impact of delivery, but also share a set of common concerns:

  1. Diner experience – hospitality means delivering the best experience for your diners, and we have a high bar for our role in that journey. Delivery can sound like a sacrifice to that goal, between courier delays, sheer distance, and being out of control of the end presentation of the order. We’ve seen a drastic uptick in take-out and delivery due in large part to the impact of COVID-19, but that hasn’t entirely changed the narrative. There are still people who are against delivery in their restaurant for fear it puts the diner experience at risk.
  2. Cost of delivery – back in the day, if you wanted to offer delivery you needed to eat the cost of in-house staffing to ensure availability. This added overhead came at the risk of losing money. Then, the 3rd party marketplaces came along forcing a surge in the delivery market with costs that didn’t make sense for restaurants. How can you operate with 20-30% commission per order and extra “marketing” fees to attract new diners, when the industry already has razor thin profit margins? Hold tight, I’ll circle back to how ChowNow helps!
  3. I think I’m fine without it – restaurant tech has exploded with so many diverse offerings (POS tech, inventory management, staffing software, and SO much more) – we have now reached a point of fatigue. Each new operational tool adds complexity to a business that was nuanced to start with. So I often hear ‘my online ordering is FINE, we don’t need one more thing to worry about’. It makes sense and I wouldn’t ask any restaurant partner to take on more than they could handle, but there are trade offs to consider.

Despite these reservations, today’s off-premise dining landscape requires more and more restaurants to entertain offering some form of delivery. 

Delivery is an opportunity to nurture a relationship with your diners through an additional ordering channel. It also allows a restaurant to be nimble and future-proof your business. Am I saying that tweezer plated pan seared fish in a generic container is a good dining experience? No, but restaurants are showcasing creative solutions like offering off menu delivery only exclusives – maybe you add the juiciest burgers exclusively on Monday night via delivery.

Our expert Restaurant Success Team is always here to share ideas and develop a plan uniquely fit for your restaurant. In the meantime, I wanted to debunk some common myths about delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions about delivery

1. Delivery is a headache – why would I add it?

Delivery can require extra logistical steps, presenting a risk of a horror story with a diner’s bad experience. But these risks are the cost of doing business in 2023 when your local competition has some form of delivery. Each incremental order is also an opportunity to build brand loyalty with diners that become your regulars. The team at ChowNow is here to help set you up for success and ensure you onboard seamlessly! We can work to understand the intricacies of your business and create a personalized plan to grow your delivery offering.

2. Flat-rate vs. commission based delivery – why care?

You must care! When you have a flat fee per order you can plan ahead and set a minimum delivery order to ensure you protect your hard earned profits. Commissions, on the other hand, can ruin your profit margin, it hurts when you are hit with a $10 fee on a single order ($40 order * 25% commission). Curious how this translates to your business? Check out our delivery commissions calculator.

Plus, think of the 3rd party model this way – you put in operational expertise to build a thriving delivery business but are held hostage to the percent you owe the 3rd party for each additional order. This forces diners to build loyalty with the 3rd Party on the heels of your success, and removes the control you have over your profit margins. One year, the 3rd Party informs you they are increasing the commission you owe and all of sudden your pricing doesn’t work for you!

With ChowNow you pay just $3.99/order (the just right delivery fee), no matter the ticket size! In return, our Flex Delivery taps into one of the largest pools of couriers to select the most reliable, best-fit delivery provider for each order.

3. What about subscription ‘passes’ offered by 3rd party marketplaces? They are free delivery, right?

Subscription passes have become really popular in the past year. This model charges diners an upfront subscription cost in exchange for ‘free’ or low cost delivery, funded by high order commissions. If you have found a way to save on delivery costs for some of your orders – I’m happy for you. But remember, not every diner has a subscription, which means you and your diners are still paying high fees on a significant portion of your orders. Even worse, you are isolating diners without ‘passes’ all together. All in all, the cost of that delivery builds loyalty for that Marketplace and NOT your business.

4. I worry if I’ll have time to troubleshoot issues and prioritize the guest experience – How are my diners and staff supported?

At ChowNow our support team is driven by a human-first philosophy and operates 24/7 answering questions wherever you ask them– phone, chat, or text (888-707-2469). We understand how to deliver hospitality and work with you and your diners directly to triage any issues that arise – ensuring your diners get their food.

Something will go wrong eventually and oftentimes it’s not your fault – a diner enters the wrong address or a courier forgets to grab that second bag. ChowNow’s award-winning Support team answers the phone within 3 minutes, on average, resulting in diners going from hangry to happy due to the quality of experience driven by our team.

5. How much time do I have to put into managing delivery?

It depends on your business, but if you are already managing take-out and online ordering the resourcing cost to add delivery is low. You’ll need to do some upfront training, consider your packaging, etc. but with ChowNow Pro your team likely won’t notice any additional day-to-day burden of offering an additional ordering channel. Restaurants tell us all the time how easy it is to integrate ChowNow Pro into their current operation. Our ordering suite of tools meets you where you are, enabling your team to manage ChowNow simultaneously with their typical responsibilities. ChowNow Pro is flexible and easy to use, you can ramp up (or down) your delivery based on your business needs, as well as accommodate a range of operational set ups.

6. I already have delivery. Why do I need one more delivery provider (like ChowNow)?

ChowNow solves delivery differently with Flex Delivery, offering you a smarter and more profitable mechanism to increase orders. ChowNow powers both pickup and delivery on your website, and 20+ high-traffic sites across the web– with the Order Better Network. This approach is why our restaurant partners see 2x more orders when they add delivery to their current set up. Our smarter dispatch gets the best coverage and fastest response times for a minimal flat fee of $3.99 per order.

We know that meeting your diners where they are is critical – diners won’t take the extra steps to hunt for food delivery. Our wide network of ordering channels paired with flexible take-out options can optimize your online ordering to ensure you aren’t turning away delivery orders.

7. ChowNow has an 8-mile delivery range – Does range matter?

It depends on where you are located! In some cities like Seattle 8 miles may as well be a different country. Diners in Bellevue have never heard of you, your food would be cold on arrival, and you’d be adding up fees for crossing the toll bridge. But for most restaurants I encourage them to use the full range to maximize your eligible diners. Plus other restaurant owners tell me most other delivery offerings cap out at a 5-mile range, that equals to less orders from less diners.

8. ChowNow has multiple delivery providers, how does that affect me?

You might remember when large delivery providers have had outages in the past – it results in angry restaurants and diners. The last thing any restaurant wants is to be fighting against negative Yelp reviews when the issue is out of your hands. We set out to solve for outages and courier shortages and as a result created a smarter delivery offering for you and your diners – Flex Delivery. We use a smart dispatching algorithm to determine the best delivery provider for each order, prioritizing reliability, diner/restaurant satisfaction, range, and more. Day to day you won’t see much of a difference, because it’s simply working as it should, in the background of your business, resulting in less canceled orders, and more happy diners.

…I hope that helps give you a little context into the many conversations I’ve had with restaurants like yours over the past several years.

The takeaway

Ultimately, I believe offering delivery is a powerful growth lever for restaurants looking to maximize their online ordering, and is something diners value. I also am proud that ChowNow allows restaurants to move away from costly 3rd party marketplaces and build their loyal diner base. These days, restaurants are a brand and the more you control how diners engage with your brand, the more likely you will be to have success in becoming a local institution.

If you’re currently one of our amazing restaurant partners, reach out to the team – we’d love to help you optimize your online ordering! If you haven’t partnered with ChowNow yet – let’s get started! We’re here to help independent restaurants thrive, and delivery is a big part of that.