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Ditching the Marketplace: Getting Diners to Use Your Restaurant Ordering System

November 11th, 2020

woman picking up food from local restaurant

For restaurant owners, using third-party delivery apps like DoorDash, UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates can seem like a necessary evil. These middleman platforms with millions of users lure restaurateurs with promises of big sales and countless new customers. Even those with their own restaurant ordering system may list their restaurant on one or more delivery apps to tap into large user bases and strong brand recognition.

But with commissions taking between 15 and 40 percent of every order, these apps make it extremely difficult for restaurants to turn a profit. And because they are popular among diners, they’re not easy to walk away from. In this blog, we’ll share strategies that will help you educate your customers on harmful commissions and incentivize them to order directly from you. 

“There’s no easy way out of those relationships because New Yorkers see these companies as their number one platform for ordering online. They’re not really thinking through to see if really it’s a good company.” – Mathieu Palombino of Motorino

5 tips for getting diners to order directly from your restaurant

1. Engage customers intent on supporting local restaurants.

Image of Motorino's website and the pop up they use to encourage web visitors to order directly via their website

Motorino, a multi-location pizzeria, uses a pop-up on its website to educate visitors about the impact of third-party marketplaces’ commissions.

Customers want to support local businesses, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In a recent survey by ZypMedia, 53 percent of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a local business during the COVID-19 crisis. Most important to these consumers were supporting the local community and the local economy. What’s more, 40 percent of consumers said they ordered more frequently from local independent restaurants than national chains during the stay at home orders, according to Oracle.

When customers order from third-party delivery apps, they may not be aware that you’re not receiving the full profits. Use every opportunity to let your customers know that ordering directly from your restaurant is most profitable for you. Encourage direct orders using your social media channels. Try adding a pop-up to your website explaining why using your restaurant ordering system is so important. When you get an order, send them a heartfelt thank you. Not only will they appreciate the note, they’ll be able to spread the word to others in the community.

Tip: Get your diners to order better.

2.  Convert new customers from third-party food delivery apps.

An image of a printed card from The Bergen ask new customers from third-party apps to use their website when placing orders.

The Bergen in Brooklyn, New York uses a printed card to ask new customers from third-party apps to use their website when placing orders.

When you get a new customer from a third-party marketplace, add a note to their to-go bag before it goes out for delivery. Let these customers know that next time they place an order, they should use your website or mobile app if you have one. In the note, thank them for their order and share why this is better for your business. Explain that ordering directly from your restaurant ordering system often means more affordable prices for them, too.

Grubhub prices are often higher for diners because many restaurants will try to offset the cost of commissions with higher menu prices. You may be able to offer more favorable prices to diners who order directly from you. Plus, they’ll avoid extra service fees. In fact, diners often pay up to 42 percent more when using restaurant delivery apps than when ordering for takeout or dine-in, according to The NPD Group. Importantly, you’ll avoid paying commissions on orders from your loyal customers. 

A Deeper Look: Why Prices on Grubhub Just Skyrocketed

3. Funnel your web visits to your restaurant ordering system.

A screenshot of Tacos Tu Madre's website featuring a single call-to-action on the top right hand corner.

Tacos Tu Madre has a single, brightly colored call to action button on the top of their website that links directly to their restaurant ordering system.

Make sure to remove links to third-party marketplaces from your website. Instead, focus on a single call to action. A call to action on a website is the button that tells your web visitors what to do next. It should be in a prominent position on the page – usually in the top right hand corner. For your restaurant, it should be a link to your online ordering system. When someone visits your website, the last thing you should do is send them to a website that will charge you a commission.

The benefit of being listed in a marketplace is to catch the attention of an undecided and hungry diner. A visitor to your website is someone who already knows they’re interested in your food. Listing all the third-party apps on your website leaves too much up to chance. When you do this, your diners are most likely to choose the ordering channel they’re most familiar with. Instead, capitalize on your web traffic, and turn those visits into orders from your very own restaurant ordering system.

More Insight: Maximize Your Revenue by Improving Your Restaurant’s Digital Strategies

4. Use a promo code to incentivize direct orders.

a phone screen displaying a promotion with a discount code

A quick way to drive orders to your restaurant ordering system is to offer a discount code. Half of women and 44 percent of men said they would try a new restaurant if they had a coupon, according to Publishers Clearing House. Make sure to post your discount code on your social media page, in an email, and on your website.

An added bonus? When someone orders via your own restaurant ordering system, you’ll have access to their order history and email address. This makes it easier for you to market to them again.

Take It Further: Why Your Restaurant Needs to Take Advantage of Customer Data

5. Start a restaurant loyalty program. 

A description of a restaurant loyalty program

A loyalty program incentivizes your regular customers to use your restaurant ordering system, which helps you increase both repeat orders and profits. When starting a loyalty program, try a membership model, in which your customers pay up front for discounts on their next orders. They’ll be motivated to order from you, and you’ll boost your cash flow when they sign up. 

A recent survey showed that 55 percent of New Yorkers would be interested in paying for a subscription to their favorite neighborhood restaurants. Eight percent of respondents said they would be interested in doing so to receive free food or drink or discounts. One in 20 respondents said they’d be interested in doing so simply to keep the restaurant afloat.

ChowNow restaurant partners that are opted in to Loyal Local, our add-on loyalty program, see their members order 2.5 times more often and spend 18 percent more per order than non-members. 

Introducing: Loyal Local, ChowNow’s Free Loyalty Program for Restaurants

In a Sage Intacct survey, 54 percent of restaurants said they were using a third-party delivery service, up from 45 percent prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has made takeout and delivery a crucial component of restaurant operations.

ChowNow offers restaurants their own branded online ordering system to take commission-free orders for both takeout and delivery. When offering delivery, it’s critical you’re choosing a reliable and profitable partner. Need help evaluating the right partner for you? Download our guide, The 4-Step Checklist for Profitable Restaurant Delivery.


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