When you add delivery service to your restaurant business, you've added a new level of complexity to manage. The right technology can help you keep control of your delivery operation - and make it more profitable. While ordinary restaurant point-of-sale systems fall short in this area, most specialized point-of-sale systems have made delivery management a priority. Here's what to look for when evaluating the delivery features in a point-of-sale system.
1. Easy phone order process
Phone orders should be fast, giving your staff the flexibilty to easily serve the customer. Look for integrated caller ID to bring up customer records quickly. The customer database should be simple to add to and give you quick access to customer history. A one-touch re-order of the customers' recent orders is a real time saver. Look for customizable notes and alerts per customer, which help improve service. Since customers call from home, work and mobile, check how the system manages multiple phone numbers and prevents duplicate records. Quick and secure credit card payments over the phone are also essential. Encrypted pin-pad entry devices secure the credit card data as it is typed. Since customers change their mind a lot, check how easy it is to change an order once its placed, including changing the credit card payment total.
Advanced features include the ability to manage "quoted time," with the system providing suggested defaults and the ability to manage specific customer requests. What happens if a customer calls at 5 and wants their order at 7? How about if they want to place an order for the next day? Also look for special tools to help you manage business accounts, hotels, tax exempt customers, charity affiliates and house accounts.
2. Online orders
Many customers don't want to pick up the phone these days - they prefer to order online or with a mobile app. Make sure that the solutions you choose are compatible, so online orders flow seamlessing into your point-of-sale system without any intervention on your part. Find out how payments are integrated - so if a customer pays online, can they modify their order or add a tip at the store?
3. Delivery area management
Operators define their delivery area carefully to maintain the ability to deliver quality food profitably. For multi-store operators, setting appropriate store boundaries is essential. Your delivery software should help maintain the delivery area boundary with a pre-loaded street database that contains all the valid address ranges in your defined area. You can also use this tool to set different delivery fees within different zones. Using the street database will also speed up data entry and cut down on typos in your customer addresses. Find out how this street list is maintained. If you need to add entries or make an exception, what is the process?
4. Dispatch process
Keeping orders moving out the door swiftly is essential to your success. The dispatch software should help this by prioritizing orders and grouping tickets that could be delivered together. It will alert you to orders that are running late and give you useful tools, such as maps and driving directions, traffic alerts and reminders for key items or messages on the ticket (like "Don't forget plates!"). The dispatch system manages drivers as well, enforcing your business rules and preventing "cherry picking" of the best deliveries. Look for useful tools such as automatic ticket reprints (so your customer gets a clean copy), driver run tickets (with a quick summary of each order on the run) and alerts for drivers who are overdue to return.
5. Driver management
You're putting a lot in the hands of your drivers, who are expected not only to deliver the food to the customer, but the payment back to you. Your delivery POS system will help you keep track of exactly what drivers owe for each order, calculating driver fees, recording tips and requiring appropriate cash drops. Look for a driver close system that is easy to use and clearly provides the information you need at the end of the night. Mileage tracking is useful to satisfy IRS reporting requirements (if you don't want to pay payroll tax on those driver fees) and coupon tracking helps prevent fraud. Systems can also help you track driver's insurance and license expirations.
A good system will make even more of a difference if it provides great information. Look for delivery-focused reports which analyze driver performance (How fast do they deliver?) and cashier ticket averages (are they upselling the 2-liters?). Another essential report will detail late deliveries, so you can respond to customers when you may have missed the mark on their order.
7. Database marketing
One of the great pay offs of adding delivery is that now you know your customers personally. You've got their address and phone number and specific order history - and that is super valuable for marketing purposes. Look for delivery software that will also help you collect e-mail addresses (some systems include a rewards-type e-mail club to build customer loyalty; some offer to send an email confirmation of the order as an incentive to provide the info). Then put that data to use - with a system that helps you easily sort customers by order history, spending levels, or specific preferences.
If you are counting on delivery to make up a profitable portion of your business, make sure you're taking advantage of the tech tools on the market that can help. With the right delivery software in place, you'll be able to streamline orders, keep track of deliveries and report on your success.
Ive been passionate about pizza technology since my start in 1994. Since then Ive worked in marketing and development for several pizza tech firms, founded FireFly Technologies, and now work as Marketing Director at Granbury Restaurant Solutions.