More and more restaurants are relying on alternative sources of income to help them weather the current economic storm. Many sit-down restaurants are turning to delivery as a way to boost their sales. If you had told any restaurateur 10 years ago that they would be relying on the delivery of casual and fine dining entrees to grow sales, you would probably have been laughed at.
Oh, how quickly things change. A December 2008 National Restaurant Association survey revealed that 50% of consumers would patronize a restaurant more frequently if it had delivery and/or take out options. 4 out of 10 casual dining restaurants and a full third of fine dining establishments think delivery is going to become a huge trend in their niche. Those are some pretty impressive numbers.
Consumers have embraced the prospect of a delivered meal from their favorite restaurant for several reasons. Most importantly it saves them the two things they are short on: time and money. The time factor is obvious, but what may not be as apparent is how restaurants can be perceived as offering a deal on entrees delivered to the door. There’s no way it’s arriving for a better price than served in the restaurant.
But when you factor in all the costs most consumers encounter just to get to your front door, it starts to make sense. Between gas, baby or dog sitting, and parking, consumers are starting to realize that paying a little more at their front door is actually a deal.
Another important factor has made working out the logistics of delivering food for a traditional sit-down restaurant much, much easier: the internet. Already two websites, Delivery.com and GrubHub, will take and process orders as well as pick up and deliver the food, making it easy for operators to add service without having to hire or train staff.
As I have discussed in a past post, online ordering is a seemingly inevitable trend in the food service industry. As consumer expectations trend towards food service that doesn’t necessarily involve your dining room, restaurants are going to be forced to develop new ways to deliver their menu. The good news is that these new trends shouldn’t require lots of new investment from restaurants. Whether you decide to use a third party or simply hire and train your staff to handle outside orders and delivery, this is a trend that will help you diversify sales revenue without having to spend a lot of money.