and other things you do that make drivers avoid you...
I know. Who cares, right? Why should you care if a driver is annoyed? They’re just a driver after all. If they don’t like it screw em!
As a former restaurant owner, I’m gunna let you fellow owners and managers in on a little secret. Most drivers are of the same mindset. And the ones that are really good don’t want to waste their time going to a pick-up that’s going to be rife with problems.
Pro tip: Not turning on your tablet or failing to notify the delivery companies that you're contracted with that you closed early or you aren’t open for breakfast one day qualify as problems.
And problems will beget more problems. And your relationships with those companies will start to deteriorate when you have few - to no drivers coming to pick up your orders. Nobody wants that. We all want harmony, and if not, then go ahead and de-platform your shop. We’ll all be better for it.
Drivers Are Self Employed
The reality is this. Your driver is a contracted worker. They too, are self-employed. They only get paid if they're on the road. Waiting around your restaurant (as nice as it may be) does not qualify as being on the road, thusly they aren’t making money.
For the longest time I would walk into a restaurant and see large groups of drivers waiting for orders. That’s not the case any longer. I routinely see drivers walking out of restaurants empty handed. If you are one of those restaurants that does this, STOP.
I’ll insert one of the truest quotes ever that we’ve all heard our mothers say at least half a million times. "You’re only hurting yourself." These gigs keep records, sort of a Santas List. You don’t want to be on the naughty list anymore than a driver does. Because, if you continue in your evil ways they will de-platform you.
They’re Drivers, Not Waiters
This is a key operational issue. The problem is lack of drivers. There are only so many to go around. And many are working with two or more gigs at the same time. Did you ever see the commercial of the cafe line moving smoothly because all the patrons are paying by tapping their card? Then someone stops the line dead by paying with cash. Don’t be that person.
When you don’t have it together and a driver has to wait or cancel the order it backs up the system by taking the driver out of rotation. And that doesn’t happen once a day. It happens thousands of times a day in every market.
You may think that you’re doing everything right. Many restaurant owners and managers think they know delivery, but they really don’t. Consider the contrast of waiting on tables in 1,000 square feet of controlled environment vs a driver whose “tables” are spread out over 150 'anything can happen' miles a day. Think, getting a customer the wrong drink and correcting it by traveling 300 feet vs 12 miles. A little perspective is warranted.
Check Yo Energy
It’s true more than not that the most problematic restaurants have more going on below the surface that spill over into their operations. The drivers aren’t stupid. They can tell when a place is poorly run and they start avoiding it.
This restaurant owner decided to vent his frustrations in his pickup instructions.This is the equivalent of a coach telling the team how worthless they are and then wondering why they keep losing.
Note to owners… The driver is the face of your restaurant. Dominos called this the 5 minute customer experience. They said you had 5 minutes to wow the customer. That is 3 minutes on the phone and 2 minutes at the door. The internet has changed that scenario to 2 minutes at the door and Covid reduced it down to zero in some cases.
Consider this when sending generalized notes to drivers that may have never stepped in your store before. What kind of expectation is this driver going to have? Some drivers will look at this offensive note and decide they aren’t interested in this kind of energy and pass on it.
This is an exception. Most restaurant owners don’t leave profanity laced tirades. Sometimes it’s just passive -aggressive behavior they display toward drivers that's a big turnoff. Remember, the driver has complete autonomy while working these gigs. It’s up to them whether they pass on an order or take it. They want the least friction, trouble, or hassle possible. They want to go to nice places with friendly people.
I know drivers who won’t pick-up from some restaurants because they have terrible parking lots that are unpaved or full of potholes. The same is true of customers who have awful driveways. An unsafe location is another big no. The more pleasant you make it for the driver, the better your chances of drivers coming to get your pick-up.
Of course, there are things beyond your control like tipping and payouts. These can increase or decrease the likelihood the driver shows up. But no driver is going to go to a shop where they have consistent issues.
Don’t be that place that has bad culture. There are some places we go to that we wouldn’t recommend an enemy work at (yes, managers will tell us to send folks their way). Some chains’ bad culture is so systemic that I won’t go to any of their stores. Some places are welcoming and I make less in a payout, but the store is so efficient that I know I’m going to be in an out in nothing flat.
There are many reasons a driver won’t pick-up from your place. These are some. A few worthy mentions are - being inconsistent with hours or policies, not having proper lighting at night, poor packaging, lousy customer base, driver being treated like an employee, etc. Hell, some drivers refuse to pick-up at restaurants with combo deals because they don’t like carrying drinks.
You can avoid being thought of as a problematic place by adopting a few of these guidelines to make your restaurant a desirable place to do business. Welcome the driver in - but not for a 20 minute stay.
Be consistent with pick-up routines. Drivers hate change because it adds degrees of difficulty to their job. And realize that this is a time based business. Respect the drivers time and know they are juggling owners like the one with the note, as well as irate customers.
Acting in good faith and respecting their time ensures the driver is representing, NOT regressing, your business.