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A Step-By-Step Guide to Adding Delivery

December 4, 2018

If done properly, delivery can pay off big for a restaurant.
In order to capitalize on this new revenue stream, restaurants should have a well thought out delivery strategy.

In a world where consumers are increasingly turning to an on-demand lifestyle, restaurants are seeing a rise in demand for food delivery. Strategy firm Pentallect published a 2018 study that found the third-party delivery industry is slated to grow 13.5 percent annually, compared to the predicted 3 percent growth rate for the restaurant industry overall.

The growth in demand for delivery will also bring an increase of sales throughout the restaurant industry. By 2020, Morgan Stanley predicted the food delivery industry could account for 11 percent of all restaurant sales, or a $32 billon opportunity.

The convenience of delivery isn’t always convenient for a restaurant. New technology, training, and an overall change in restaurant operations might cause you a few headaches, but if done properly, delivery can pay off big.

For restaurants who already offer take-out options, going the extra step to offer delivery could lead to an increase in sales and repeat customer traffic. Olo, an online and mobile ordering platform, looked at its data and “found that brands that enable delivery through Olo’s Dispatch product have roughly 50 percent higher subtotals compared with in-store pickup order subtotals. [It] also found that guests who ordered delivery are more likely to be repeat guests, compared with non-delivery guests,”according to a Olo’s “Want to Scale Delivery?” report.

Incorporating delivery into a restaurant doesn’t happen overnight. In order to capitalize on this new revenue stream, restaurants should have a well thought out strategy to avoid confusion for both employees and consumers. Olo’s “Want to Scale Delivery?” report carefully outlines how to prepare and execute delivery at a restaurant.

Here are some helpful tips to incorporate delivery into your restaurant:

Properly set up a delivery space

Delivery will take up space in the restaurant. In order for the restaurant to properly service the dining room and delivery orders, operators should designate a specific area where delivery prep and packaging should take place.

Make sure your technology is up to date

Integrating an ordering platform to an existing POS system is just one way restaurants can receive delivery orders. If that’s not an option for the delivery service or the third-party delivery service currently in place, make sure there’s a designated area for that technology, whether it’s a tablet or printer, to exist and communicate with the kitchen.

The back of the house might not be the best option for receiving orders. One brand found it was unable to receive orders because the tablet station was in an internet “dead zone,” according to the Olo report. It’s smart to test equipment in different areas to make sure this hiccup doesn’t happen in your establishment.  

Designate an employee dedicated to delivery

An increase in delivery orders can affect efficiency throughout a restaurant. If the front-of-house staff starts to feel bogged down by delivery orders, it might make sense to designate an employee with delivery tasks. Olo found that “once your restaurant is processing 30 or more delivery orders per day you can justify dedicating an employee to this role.”


This employee can take care of receiving orders, expediting food, preparing to-go bags, and check the orders before handing off the food to the courier. Each delivery should include marketing material, like menus and coupons, extra napkins and utensils, and extra dish specific condiments. The “Delivery Specialist” should make sure each of these items are in the bag before it leaves the restaurant.

A “Delivery Specialist” can also fill sauce containers, fold to-go boxes, and set up the delivery station before the delivery rush comes, so they don’t get backed up as more orders come in. This designated employee should have their hands on the entire delivery process and this extends to supporting the courier when they’re out for delivery.

Invest in the right packaging

The extra money that goes into proper delivery packaging will help with the overall customer experience. If a customer receives their food and it’s still warm and hasn’t mixed together into a mess, they’re more likely to order again from your restaurant. Olo suggests investing in packaging that is sturdy and flat-bottomed, insulated and ventilated (no more soggy fries), and transparent. According to the report, “clear packaging allows drivers to check orders at-a-glance before leaving the store and completing the delivery.” With these packaging features, delivery orders will fit better in a bag and are less likely to break or come apart in on the car ride.

Treat the couriers like a guest

Without couriers, delivery wouldn’t be possible. These employees need extra support to make sure they are able to get the correct deliveries to customers on time. Whether delivery is an in-house task or provided through a third-party, the courier should be able to easily and quickly find orders. If you’re experiencing a higher volume of delivery orders, it might be convenient to designate shelving specifically for delivery orders. This way the couriers can pick up the orders as soon as they enter the restaurant.

The courier should also have an employee they can reach out to if they run into an issue while out on a delivery. And this communication also goes for a courier and a customer. If a courier is running behind or runs into an issue on the road, they should be able to update the customer of their arrival time.

To cut down on confusion, Olo also recommends arranging the orders in a way that couriers can easily find them. Orders can be organized by chronologically by pickup time, numerically by order number, or alphabetically by guest name. This system will allow couriers to pick up the right orders each time. The less time the courier spends in the restaurant, the more time they can spend delivering food.

According to Olo, some brands offer rewards for loyal couriers. Couriers who have surpassed a number of successful deliveries can be rewarded in gift cards or coupons for free food. Other brands simply offer a free drink or side while a courier is waiting for food or is done with a shift. By incentivizing couriers to fulfill deliveries in a more efficient manner, the overall experience is better for the consumer and the restaurant.