Always in the shadow of family favorite the drive-thru, delivery never really found its footing in quick-service. But today the concept is all grown up, its operations perfected, and consumers are clamoring for it more than ever. So much so that 66 percent of quick-service operators who responded to a National Restaurant Association survey believe delivery will become more popular within the year. For skeptics like Little Caesars, however, delivery has already lost its luster; it’s back to customers picking up their own food. We break down the prices, advantages, and challenges of implementing a delivery operation at your store.
Only one year into the launch of its delivery operation, Quiznos has already rolled out the option at half of its locations. That’s a feat that “took the pizza guys decades,” says the brand’s Senior Vice President of Delivery and Catering, Rebecca Steinfort. She says the key is being able to leverage the franchisees’ investments better than their delivery predecessors.
National pizza chain Little Ceasars decided a decade ago to end its delivery operation at all company stores. President of the company David Scrivano says the delivery option began interfering with the company’s business model and affected the quality of the chain’s food.
Restaurants on the Run (ROTR) has a fleet of more than 400 drivers in cities sprinkled from Las Vegas to the Pacific Ocean. The expanding company runs a corporate delivery service that allows customers to sign up for orders from their favorite restaurants. ROTR’s contracted drivers deliver the orders to the customer and even act as caterers for large orders.
Steinfort “Not only are consumers comfortable with delivery now, they almost expect it. It’s a huge trend. People are very busy these days, and they want the convenience that delivery brings. The customers are already there, and pizza chains have already developed the operational capabilities.”
Scrivano “At Little Caesars, pizzas are ready to pick up when they come through the door. Customers drive right home and they get the freshest best-tasting product. There are lots of choices to go pick up your food and come home. I think it’s a more traditional way of getting your dinner or lunch.”
Childers “We have a group ordering feature where basically an admin can send out an e-mail to whoever they invite to place their single order then we aggregate them into one order. We have those people that order for two or three people, and then we have those people that put in an order for 150 people every day.”
Steinfort “The first step is getting out there and making sure your customers know that you deliver. It’s a pretty new concept to have a sub chain deliver on a national scale. Quiznos is really breaking new ground here. No. 2 is operational excellence—getting the food there on time, making sure it’s the right temperature, and really satisfying customer needs.”
Scrivano “There’s no question that focusing on the carry-out section of the market has helped us. It saves us the expenses of paying gas and paying mileage to drivers and additional wages. Certainly there are insurance costs and potential liability costs as well. It lowers the overhead and improves the cost structure that we pass along to our customers.”
Childers “We handle the call for the restaurant, so they don’t have to worry about taking the order. We take the order through our Web site or call center and put it through our system. We work the restaurants’ own menus and get everything perfect. We fax it over to the restaurant and give them a pickup time. The only thing the restaurant has to do is make the food, and we’re there to pick it up and deliver it.”
Steinfort “We have the Internet, and people are used to buying things through the Internet. That’s not something the pizza guys could have taken advantage of 20 years ago, but that’s very easy for Quiznos to ramp up and leap frog the pizza guys within a quick timeframe.”
Scrivano “In 2007 we built more stores in the U.S. than any other pizza chain. I think we’re one of many choices that a customer has when they’re driving home from work or coming back from a soccer game or returning from school. We compete with all fast-food restaurants that are out there and offer food for pick up. We don’t necessarily compete with pizza delivery guys.”
Childers “We’re usually a different kind of customer than fast food. We do drop-off catering and have it a little nicer so they can serve clients and meetings. We’re more in that game.”