Thinking whether to add a delivery service to your business? Then listen to what these five shop owners have to say first
Frank Suhadolnik, Houghton Chippy, Darlington, County Durham
Platform using: Just Eat
How long for: Three years.
Deliveries per week: About 50 with it topping out at 60 on some days.
What are the pros of using Just Eat? It provides you with a fairly reliable baseline of revenue, albeit it an expensive baseline of revenue! Just Eat will pay for your drivers, but your own efforts should make you a profit.
What are the cons? Just Eat is a great partner, but there are more cons than pros! You just have to make sure you’re not over-reliant on them because if you are, you’ll go out of business. Plus, a Just Eat customer is a Just Eat customer, so you don’t have access to their email address, for example. That is owned by Just Eat and they will market to your customers.
Commission rate: 14% plus VAT, so it works out around 20%. Just Eat states that we have to charge on their platform exactly what we are charging our in-store and own delivery customers. So if you have a customer on your own platform and you’re charging them £1 for something, Just Eat will charge £1 but take 20p of it. So for every £1 you’re taking on your own platform, you’re making 35p-40p. On Just Eat you’re lucky to make 15p by the time you’ve delivered it. So you’ve got to factor that into your pricing.
Top tip: Understand what your costs are and understand your pricing. If you take £1,000 through your till, it’s £1,000 in real terms, through Just Eat it’s £800, and you’ve had to employ people to get the food from pan to van to door. So it’s a lot of investment in time, effort and infrastructure. Be sure it’s worth it and that you can handle an increase in orders, especially on a busy Friday night.
James Ritchie, Simpsons Fish & Chips, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Platform using: Deliveroo
How long for: About three years.
Deliveries per week: Between 100-120 deliveries a week. The pattern of trade levels are the same as the shop, so on a Friday we might do 40 deliveries, but on a Monday we might do 10. It’s very much a secondary aspect of our business but we feel it’s necessary to keep up with changing customer trends and people want convenience now.
What are the pros of using Deliveroo? Reaching people who can’t or don’t want to leave the house.
What are the cons? A lack of control over how long it takes for the food to arrive and how careful the rider has been.
Commission rate: 33%, which is about the same difference between our takeaway/eat in prices. Customers pay our restaurant menu prices, we couldn’t do it if we used takeaway prices.
Top tip: Make sure it’s profitable for you. Look at all the options to see if you’d rather employ your own delivery team or not. Use all the platforms a couple of times as a customer to see if you are happy with the service provided.
Donald Langford, Meriden Fish Bar, Watford, Hertfordshire
Platform using: FOODit from JJ Foodservice
How long for: About a year. We’ve been offering deliveries a lot longer, but customers were only able to order over the phone.
Deliveries per week: Around 75 deliveries a week, a quarter of which come through FOODit, and the rest over the phone. Friday evenings are by far the busiest night of the week, followed by Saturdays. We find that summer is always a bit quieter, especially on very warm days.
What are the pros of using FOODit? We find that there are a lot of benefits from using FOODit, one major one being that it’s easy to use. We love that we can make amends ourselves and it’s allowed us to reach a new audience; it’s surprising how many customers prefer to order online.
You can opt to receive text or email alerts every time you receive a new order, which came in handy a few months ago when our tablet broke. We also had an issue with our card machine a few Fridays ago, which would normally have meant we wouldn’t be able to take card payments over the phone for deliveries and we’d have lost a few orders, however, we were able to offer the online service for those customers to use instead.
What are the cons? So far we haven’t experienced any downsides of FOODit. We had a few teething problems in the beginning, as with any new system, but the FOODit team were really helpful getting them sorted. For now, we are happy just having another way for our customers to order. For us the next step is to understand the capabilities the software has to move us forward, such as discounts, being able to contact repeat customers etc.
Commission rate: 10%, which we absorb.
Top tip: Do it! We were lucky that we won FoodIt’s competition last year to have the website built for us completely free. We had been approached several times before by other companies but the start-up rates and commission were just extortionate.
We had been doing the same thing for so long, we just didn’t know what the best option for us would be. Having a website seemed like it would be more hassle than it was worth and end up costing us too much, but it’s been a fantastic opportunity. The last year has been our busiest and introducing the option to order online has definitely contributed towards to that.
Vas Nikoladis, Carvers, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire
Platform: We don’t use a platform, we just take orders over the phone.
How long for: About four years now.
Deliveries per week: Between 80 and 90 and that’s just from 4.30pm until we close at 9pm and we employ about five drivers.
What are the pros of doing it yourself? We’re in control of everything, we employ the drivers although they take care of all their own insurance etc, so we can say to the customers how long a delivery is going to be. If we’re running a bit late, we can call them before they ring us.
What are the cons? Not really, once in a blue moon we get a hoax call so we make a note of the number in case it happens again.
Commission rate: Nothing, which is another pro! We have a delivery charge of £1.50 or £3.00 if the customer is over five miles away. We also have a minimum order of £8 but if an order comes to £6-£7 I tend not to worry about it.
Top tip: Try it. We just take phone orders and leaflet the areas around us to promote it. We get a lot of people saying to us that they haven’t heard of a fish and chip shop doing delivery. We’ve been in the business for 40 years and my dad says he wishes we had done it earlier. It definitely brings in a lot more profit especially when there’s adverse weather. We get a lot of elderly customers who don’t want to leave the house - or who can’t - using it.
Hassan Ergjsi, Hobson’s Fish & Chips, West London
Platform: Uber Eats
How long for: About two years.
Deliveries per week: 50-70.
What are the pros of using Uber Eats? We don’t have to employ drivers, they come and collect the food and deliver it for us. Plus, Uber Eats will deliver 2-3 miles in any direction from our restaurant whereas others operate a grid system and your delivery area depends on where you are in that grid.
What are the cons? We’ve found that customers that used to use us directly now use Uber Eats, so we’ve ended up paying them to take food to someone’s door who was initially coming to us. It’s also increased costs so I’ve had to charge more, but the way I see it is if the customer is happy to pay it, then fine. We also have to wait two weeks before the money from UberEats is in our account.
Commission rate: 25% so we build that into our Uber Eats prices. A piece of cod with them is £10.95 whereas in the takeaway it’s £7.40. About 70% of my trade is eat-in, so doing delivery is a little bonus for me. It means I’m getting rid of fish and I’ve not got chips sitting there. If I was doing 70% Uber and 30% eat-in I wouldn’t survive.
Top tip: Build in all your costs to make sure it’s viable. One small branded box and one small branded paper bag are costing us 35p at the moment, so if you’re sending that out you’ve got to factor it in. For a long time I didn’t pass that on, but you should. And if you’re doing well already, I would question if you need it. Especially if you’ve got your own delivery as a customer will see you on an app like Uber Eats and they are more likely to order from there so you’ve lost them to Uber Eats now. And remember, while it might look amazing because you’ve increased turnover, always look at your profit because very easily it could be a lot less than a few years ago.