There’s no denying that the food delivery market is explosive right now. The pandemic has forced a large portion of the dining public to rely on delivery over the last nine months. Big names amongst service providers have been merging left and right, the latest example being Uber’s purchasing of Postmates back in July.

DoorDash, which also owns the high-end restaurant delivery platform Caviar, recently filed for an IPO. All that is to say that having great food from local restaurants delivered to your door is an expectation of most consumers, especially in dense urban and suburban areas.

While many restaurants opt to partner with a Delivery Service Provider (DSP) like DoorDash, these platforms have many downsides: cost, ethics, lack of control over the look and feel of the product, and lack of owning critical data about customers. Although it may be daunting to bring your delivery in-house, it can be an effective and highly profitable strategy if executed smartly.

At Bottle, we enable pre-orders so that businesses can efficiently group orders and create delivery economics that make sense. In this article, we’ll lay out a handful of key tips for managing your own delivery workforce and argue the importance of considering this strategy.

When to Bring Delivery In-House?

Ask yourself, “is it more profitable to outsource delivery or run my delivery operation myself?”

All it takes is a bit of simple math to answer. If you batch orders, own your customer, and are able to hire drivers at a fair but effective cost, then you might want to consider bringing deliveries in house.

When you’re ready to start managing your deliveries, follow the steps below to nail your process.

Finding Drivers

One of the biggest challenges to bringing delivery in-house is finding reliable drivers. As Glenn Solomon, my former operations manager at Southfork who now works at Lyft puts it, “Don’t just hire anyone. These drivers are the face of your business. Make sure you take the time to properly vet and interview each potential driver.”

It’s critical to spend time finding the best drivers and when you do, to invest in them and keep them happy. And like anything, if you want to find great drivers you need a defined and scalable hiring process.

Defining and Executing Your Hiring Process

  1. Write a strong job posting
    Recruiting good drivers starts with an effective job posting, which requires a compelling description that sets you apart from the large companies like Uber and DoorDash. Talk about what makes your company special, offer perks like free meals or product, and most importantly, pay fair and predictable wages. Our friends at Greenhouse have a great article about writing a compelling job description.
  2. Target specific prospects
    Then, post it. Big sites like Craigslist and Indeed are good places to start, but an even better strategy is to find niche listings like college job boards or even posting physical flyers at hotspot locations (like coffee houses, college campuses, etc). Be creative and thoughtful! You might find yourself wanting to do more with your hiring process, by reaching out to various communities to supply jobs via a training program. Where I live in Atlanta, there’s a company called Refugee Coffee Co., which hires and trains refugees to be part of their staff. I’ve always found success in hiring great people when I’ve taken time to invest in causes and communities in which I felt like a job at our company would be a win-win.
  3. Create a hurdle to screen out unqualified applicants
    You’ll want an easy way to sort out your initial group of applicants and creating hurdles in the application process is a great first step. Hurdles can include:

    > A simple form that asks the candidate some basic questions.

    > Include an explicit instruction in the job posting. (For example: ask candidates to write you an email with their resume and instruct them to put something like ‘Southfork Driver Position: Your Name’ in the subject line when applying for the job.)

    > Consider taking applications and inquiries over text by asking applicants to text you with specific keywords. This tests their ability to follow basic instructions (and is a good use case for Bottle!).
  4. Stay organized using an applicant tracking system
    A tracking system is a great way to organize inquiries and screen out applicants. Here are three options:
    > When I Work
    > Workstream
    > JazzHR (a little pricier, but works really well)
  5. Conduct interviews
    Most of the big companies don’t do this, but it’s an important step. Remember what we said about these drivers representing your company—it’s true. So, taking the time to spend 30 minutes on the phone with your pre-vetted candidates is important and has substantial ROI. I love the behavioral interviewing model, it’s a great way to understand a candidate and assess how they’ll respond to challenging situations. Here is an in depth guide on how to conduct behavioral interviews.
  6. Run a background check
    This is a key final step, as you don’t want to end up employing anyone who could be dangerous to your customers, your other staff, or your business.

Managing Drivers

Another useful tip from Glenn, the former ops manager, is that it’s much easier to relate to and motivate your drivers if you understand what they need to do on a daily basis. Get out there and see what it’s like to find a parking space on a busy street and how to navigate a 40-story office building. “Give them what they need to succeed and be safe,” he says.

Phone mounts cost under $5 but can greatly reduce the risk of an accident. If your drivers are delivering multiple meals at once, make sure they have an appropriate way to transport the food properly while keeping it warm or cold. The most important aspect of managing drivers is building relationships. By offering drivers steady work with a defined schedule, you have the opportunity to stand out from other delivery platforms. Use this is a key advantage to hire great people, and most importantly, treat them well.

As an added bonus, here are some software tools you might want to consider using:

  1. Routing
    a.) Routific
    b.) Onfleet
    c.) Capterra
  2. Wage Management and Scheduling
    a.) When I Work
    b.) Homebase