Making the decision to offer pizza delivery is probably the smartest business moves a pizza parlor can make. We live in America, and that means having the option to bust out our phones, punch a few numbers and have a hot and fresh pizza delivered to our door in thirty minutes or less. This magical process may sound like a miracle, but it’s not all fun and games on the business end. In this post, we’ll touch on:
- Hiring and paying a delivery driver.
- Carrying auto insurance.
- Taking the delivery order.
- Handling customer complaints.
Hiring a Delivery Driver
Delivery drivers might as well be called restaurant ambassadors, because they should represent your business in a manner that best reflects upon you. In addition to knowing how to find the right people, there are a few additional things to look for in a pizza delivery driver.
Drivers that are rude or otherwise unpleasant to your delivery customers can sacrifice repeat business, so hire people that are friendly and can make a good impression in the 30 to 60 seconds that they will actually interact with the customer.
Clean Driving Record
Obviously, you want a driver that is safe. Most companies look for no moving violations in the last six or twelve months when screening candidates.
If the driver will be using his or her own vehicle, it is important that they carry insurance. If they get into an at-fault accident or fined for driving without insurance, it will reflect negatively on your establishment.
When delivering pizzas, two questions always come to mind: Whose car is being used, and who’s carrying the insurance. The short answers to these questions are, if it is a company-owned car, the pizzeria carries the insurance. If it is the driver’s car, then any accidents are covered by his or her insurance. However, with each option should be weighed carefully.
For Company Owned Cars
When the company owns the car, each potential driver needs to be on the policy, which can increase the liability cost as more drivers increase the risk. However, insurance companies tend to like company-owned cars being used for deliveries because they know exactly how many cars are on the road at any one time.
For Driver Owned Cars
If the delivery driver owns the car, most standard policies do not cover accidents if the vehicle is being used for business purposes, so the pizza shop owner must have hired auto or non-owned automobile coverage. This is a liability policy that covers accidents that occur when the employee is driving the car for delivery purposes. You will want to check with your insurance company, though, because a lot of insurers have “no pizza delivery” clauses, since it is considered high risk.
Most pizza delivery drivers are paid about a dollar below minimum wage but make tips. Depending on the area of the country and what neighborhood they deliver to, the hourly rate and tips can vary. Though they are very similar to servers, deliver drivers make more per hour than waiters and waitresses because oftentimes they have a car to maintain and perform other duties around the kitchen, like washing dishes. However, as with servers, any tips the driver makes should be reported as extra income on their tax return.
Any person that drives for a business and uses his or her own automobile should be compensated for the mileage. This compensation is used to cover the cost of gas and some vehicle maintenance. Beginning January 1, 2009, the standard mileage rate, issued by the IRS, is $0.55 per business mile driven. Most delivery drivers that cover a lot of miles will log their mileage and turn it into their employer, a lot like a time clock. Or, the mileage can be written off as a tax deduction at the end of the year.
A simpler method that pizza shops use, rather than logging driver miles, is to pay a flat rate per delivery. This rate usually ranges from $0.25 to $1.00 per delivery. The amount will vary depending on the delivery area. Obviously, the larger the delivery area, the more gas money the driver should receive.
Many pizzerias charge between $0.50 and $2 to deliver. With rising energy costs, this seems like a great way to supplement costs without raising menu prices across the board. However, if a large portion of the money is not going to your driver, they will suffer in overall tips. Most customers assume that the delivery charge is for the driver and subtract a dollar from their intended tip.
Generally speaking, taking delivery orders over the phone is not much different than for walk-in customers. The order is entered into a P.O.S. (point of sale) system, the pizza is made, and it is delivered, hopefully still fresh. P.O.S. systems will even record the customer’s address and phone number for easy retrieval on repeat business. But, since the food is being taken to a customer’s house, there are some additional things that the person taking the order needs to keep in mind:
Ask Customers to Turn on the Porch Light
Having the porch light on makes it easier to locate the house and adds to driver safety, so instruct your order takers to ask their customers to turn on the porch light.
Verify the Size of the Bill When Paying with Cash
For safety reasons, delivery drivers should not carry more than $20 worth of change on their person. If the order is over $20, ask cash paying customers what they will be paying with, so the driver brings along the correct change.
Call Back for Late Night Orders
Pizzerias see a lot of their business late at night, especially in college towns. However, nighttime also brings muggings and phony orders. Calling customers back for orders placed after 10:00 or 11:00 PM will assure that the order is legitimate. You can simply tell the customer that their order is going out to be delivered, if nobody answers the phone or the person on the other end has no idea what you are talking about, chances are very good that the order was a fake.
Write down Special Instructions for Hard-to-Find Places
Most people know if their house is difficult to find (whether it is lost in a suburban jungle or hidden on a wooded country road), so when they give special instructions, your order takers should write down those directions.
Additionally, the delivery driver should only take two or three orders out at most. Any more, and the last person on the list will receive a cold pizza too late. Also, the oldest order should always be delivered first.
Any restaurant has to handle a number of customer complaints. Most can easily be handled on the spot with a discounted or free menu item, but when a customer’s pizza is smashed or they did not receive their liter of cola, turning that customer around can be more difficult, because oftentimes they are on the phone yelling at whoever picks up. Here are a few simple steps to calm down an angry delivery customer:
Don’t Lose Your Cool
Customers tend to come off as more hostile over the phone, because it is easier to yell at someone if you are not face to face with them. Keep this in mind, because it is easy to let your own temper flare up, and when dealing with upset customers, cooler heads always prevail.
Use the Same Tactics You Would for in-House Customers
The customer obviously called up because they are dissatisfied and want you to make it right. Be attentive to their needs and do the same thing you would for an in-house customer. Offer to rectify the situation by either bringing out the correct menu item (if something was forgotten) or giving a free or discounted item. The free or discounted items can be given that day or the next time they order.
Send the Item out Immediately
If something was missed, then it should go to the customer’s house with the very next order (and be first on the delivery route). If no orders are ready or all the drivers are out, delivering it yourself will show the customer how much you care.