When the pandemic first hit the restaurant industry, two services came in to save the day: takeout and delivery.

But now that in-person dining has returned, restaurants are shifting their focus to dine-in services. While it’s true that customers want to get back into restaurants, this doesn’t mean that restaurateurs should take their foot off the gas when it comes to takeout and delivery. Research from AAL shows that almost 50% of Canadians intend to order food online at least once a week after the pandemic. Plus, Statistics Canada reports that 50.7% of bars and restaurants in Canada will likely adopt contactless delivery or pickup options on a permanent basis.

In-House vs. Third-Party Applications

Most restaurants employ the help of third-party applications to manage their takeout and delivery. The reason for this is simple: they are a tremendous marketing tool for your restaurant. You would be hard-pressed to find a better way to attract new customers that is both simple and allows you to be almost completely hands-off. 

That being said, there are certain qualities of third-party apps that make it challenging for restaurant owners to maintain them long term. Commission fees, for example, can make a restaurant’s already slim margins even thinner and challenge their ability to turn a profit.

Offering Your Own Takeout and Delivery

So the question is this: now that you’ve attracted loyal customers using third-party apps, is there a way to provide takeout and delivery without drawbacks? Of course there is! Simply put, you can offer your own takeout and delivery. This seems daunting, but it can be made simple if you find the right solution. 

Needless to say, there are some caveats you need to consider. Having to manage delivery drivers and an ordering platform are two obvious ones. However, on the other hand, there are many reasons why it would benefit your restaurant and customers, such as:

1. Create customer loyalty for yourself

When customers order food from third-party apps, they aren’t building loyalty to the individual restaurants. Instead, they’re building loyalty to the app. Think of it this way: on a third-party app, customers will generally pick the restaurant that gives them the best value regardless of who it is. In other words, it’s much less personal.

By offering your own takeout and delivery service, customers build loyalty to your restaurant and your restaurant only. You can increase this effect even more by offering exclusive online deals or establishing an in-house loyalty program. 

What’s more, customers are happy to support local businesses. According to a DoorDash food trends report, 80 percent of Canadians plan to do more to support local businesses in 2021. Similarly, an AAL report showed that more Canadians have used an online service direct from the restaurant than delivery apps (see the graph below).

2. Save on fees for both you and your guests

As many restaurateurs now know, third-party delivery apps charge anywhere from 15-30% per order for their services, a fair rate for new customer acquisition. Of course, third-party apps provide great value to restaurants by exposing them to a huge audience of potential customers. However, once you have paid the higher fee to acquired a new customer, you can save on this cost by providing your own takeout and delivery. Why pay the acquisition cost more than once when you don’t have to.

While it’s true that these services require additional investments to start, they more than make up for it with the extra revenue incurred from commission-free takeout and delivery orders. Say goodbye to operating at break-even or at a net loss, as many restaurants have had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic (based on research by Restaurants Canada).

The savings also work for your customers as well. With no extra fees, customers have more room to spend on food and tips, making it a win-win situation.

3. Maintain better control of the quality of food and service

One thing to note about third-party apps is that they do a lot of the work for you, i.e., advertising, menu creation, etc… Yet, because of this, the restaurant owner has much less control.

With your own takeout and delivery service, you can control many important aspects of the dining experience.

Some examples include:

  • Prices (zero commissions and lower service fees allow you to offer more competitive prices)
  • Menu look and feel (being able to dictate your own colour scheme, layouts, and design)
  • Food quality (you control exactly how fast food gets to your customer, meaning better, hotter food for your guests)
  • Branding (being able to display your restaurant’s logo on the packaging and delivery vehicle)
  • Service quality (having a say over who delivers the food and how professional they are)

For more on this, take a look at Omnichannel ordering: Why you should take (back) control of your dining experience.

4. Give customers an easier experience

It’s no surprise that people love convenience. In fact, a Food in Canada article reports that convenience is the most popular reason why Canadians order food online. When you offer your own takeout and delivery, you give your customers an easier, simpler service

With your own takeout and delivery service, customers can order without having to navigate the endless offerings of third-party apps. This means fewer ordering mistakes (which are costly and diminish the overall customer experience), more menu exploration for guests, and a lower probability of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of restaurants.

Even better, you can integrate your digital menu and delivery service directly with your social media and website. This lets customers order from your establishment without having to jump between apps and sometimes even devices. For more on this topic, check out our 5 tips for optimizing your social media to increase online ordering.

Getting Started with Your Own Takeout and Delivery

If you’re thinking about taking control of your restaurant’s takeout and delivery service, App8 can help. With our customizable solutions, we give you the tools you need to offer a seamless, omnichannel dining experience that you control, without the high fees.

Get started today: https://app8solutions.com/online-takeout-ordering/.