Why menu management can make or break your fast casual's third-party delivery launch
By Don Guarnieri, director of special projects, Omnivore
Fast casual chains across the country have opted to add third-party delivery to their operations. In fact, NPD recently reported a 20 percent increase in delivery sales in April of 2018. While adding the option of delivery allows for the opportunity to reach a new and broader customer base, the implementation does not always go off without a hitch. When a fast casual operator implements delivery, whether through UberEats, Postmates, GrubHub, other online aggregators or decides to build their own, they will likely partner with more than one vendor in order to accommodate as many customers as possible. And, more than one third-party delivery partner means more than one menu to manage. Menu management is becoming a major issue in third-party delivery for fast casual restaurants and here's why:
Consistency and accuracy of orders
If you were to visit your favorite restaurant on GrubHub to place an order for that evening, you should be able to visit that same restaurant on UberEats and place that same order. This is not always the case. When menus are poorly managed, the restaurant may have inconsistent menu options and out of date prices across the board. Technology exists that allow fast casual operators to input their menu items and ensure that they are streamlined across the board for consistency across all of the third-party delivery vendors. Without this management, the restaurant is missing out on revenue opportunities due to out of date prices and the customer will look to other restaurants with more dependable menus.
Streamlined communication with restaurant staff
What a customer sees on a third-party delivery app is not necessarily what the restaurant calls that same item in Point of Sale (POS) system. The menu items in the POS are meant to streamline service and allow for faster production, and it is up to the server to make the translation between the customer and back of house. In fast casual restaurants, this becomes even more important because there are so many modifications to the menu. When a customer orders something on a third-party delivery service, the menu has to contain the modifiers for all of the additions and substitutions and translate it correctly to the back of house through the POS system. If these items are communicated inconsistently through different third-party delivery apps, it can mean chaos in the kitchen. There is an added layer of management necessary to make this translation seamless.
Substitutions and live menu tracking
Unlike QSR restaurants, fast casual orders are designed around “build your own.” Substitutions and additions to any given menu item are integral to the fast casual ordering experience. Managing the menu becomes even more important when the orders get trickier. Take a poke fast casual restaurant for example, where most of the orders are built around fresh fish and vegetables, that are often locally sourced. If UberEats is showing that a certain fish is available when the restaurant has already run out, this becomes an issue down the line when the order gets processed. The customer has placed the order expecting it will arrive at their door in 20 to 40 minutes, but instead they receive a notification after they've already placed their order that the item is no longer available. To avoid this, fast casual restaurants that offer fresh items like poke bowls will give an option to the customer to opt for the merchant recommendation if a certain item is sold out. This is a growing trend with fast casual restaurants that operate on fresh food and where consumers are open to trying substitutions and new things. This option allows for the restaurant to fulfill the guests order no matter what.