Franchise Growth Trend Hunting: On-Demand Food

Pretty much every Franchise Coach has heard this from their franchisees: one of the biggest trends for customers of franchise locations is on-demand food or off-premise. But, as discussed in an earlier post, there are two options when it comes to delivery for the franchisor as an organization, and the franchisees themselves.

  1. Creating ordering capabilities in-house
  2. Using a third-party service or food delivery service app

Today, we are going to look in-depth at the third-party services, and explore key considerations for restaurants in franchising working with these services. There are many new considerations to understand when looking at this trend, and what matters in terms of supporting your franchisees with this transition.

What is a Food Delivery Service App?

Whether it is the ubiquitous GrubHub or UberEATS, high-end Caviar or 45-minutes or less hub, DoorDash, a food delivery service app is more like having a virtual foodcourt in your pocket. There are a lot of these apps right now in a “land-grab” for space, which are both regional and national. If the customer does not have a specific restaurant in mind, they can simply scroll through the app and browse by city, address, cuisine or menu. Do you have a very specific craving for Korean Pork Bone Soup, “Fall Off the Bone” Texas ribs? Well, with a food delivery service app, you can even search by menu item.

If your franchisees are considering signing up for one or many of these services, you will want to take a few things into consideration.

Market Dynamics

As your Marketing Director will tell you, different areas have different advertising dynamics. For Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on Google for example, the franchisee in Brooklyn, New York will have a different experience than the one in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Why? Because there is more competition in Brooklyn for just about… everything, driving the cost of advertising up.

The same dynamic is at play in Food Delivery Service Apps. There are some cities that will rely on the most popular apps-only, such as GrubHub or UberEATS. There are other cities where there is such a proliferation of apps, that franchisees need to have several iPads to keep up.

Take Mighty Quinns BBQ based in New York for example. In order to keep up with the different apps they manage their different ordering system using several iPads for each delivery service. For Christos Gourmos, co-founder of the company, he says that the back-end would be the biggest headache – as in – it is not about bringing in the customers, it is about defining who is paying.

The opposite is true for markets where there is no proliferation of apps. For some Australian businesses for example, the 35% premium just one app charges means that the cost of entry is too high.

Finances and Fees

Food Delivery Service Apps offer a challenge for franchisors, because of the added fees can put a lot of pressure on the franchise model. For example, while the apps can offer up to 35% onto the price of a meal, a franchise like Dominos can charge their franchisees just 1% for their delivery service. This is why so many brand aggregators and large franchisors are either building this capability in-house, or are partnering or taking ownership in some of these outfits. For franchisors without this option, here are some things to consider. Note, that all quotes are different according to the application and the region, so the percentages are just for illustration.

  • Non-Sponsored Post Commission: A “non-sponsored” listing, means you will simply be listed on the site, with no special treatment in terms of priorities. In some markets, it can be 15% for this cost.
  • Sponsored Post Commission: A “sponsored” post means that your offering will move up in the rankings, and can cost about 20%.
  • Delivery: While it is possible to use these applications without using delivery, there is an added 10% for the delivery for those who need it.

In franchising, we are able to take advantage of economies of scale – and creating the ability for franchisees to do their own delivery is a great start in terms of helping them take control of the costs. Another strategy restaurants use is to have one price on the apps, and another price in the restaurant or on their own website.

Marketing

Similar to the “daily deals” website such as Groupon, the risk of food delivery apps is that the customer may move the relationship from the restaurant to the application. The flexibility the consumer gets with the app can be at the expense of the franchisee. As a result, you want that food and packaging to “hook” the consumer so the next time they order they will go directly to the restaurant. Also, the data behind the consumer behavior is lost to the app, meaning some of your market intelligence abilities will be limited.

Operations

While most experts see consolidation and specialization in the future, the reality today is that there are a lot of these apps out there. As a result, taking orders from multiple apps will create duplicate data entry, which creates opportunities for human error. Also – the disconnected systems creates some administrative challenges – ones that can create a subversion of royalty fees.

Another new trend noted by McDonalds is that on-demand has created new occasions for eating. They have found that late-night eating is a new “thing” that would not be covered by a standard restaurant operating hours.

One interesting form of consolidation for brand aggregators to consider is the trend of Ghost Kitchens also known as “Virtual Kitchens”. This is where there are several brands under one roof, and it is delivery only. These kitchens are growing in popularity across North America and the UK creating a need for highly versatile chefs, but removing the need for “front of the house” staff.

The Future?

Restaurants are not going away… but they are changing. One way to navigate change is by having flexible technology that goes with it. At FranchiseBlast, our brand promise is “You set the course, we’ll help you get there. Let’s enjoy the journey.” Our flexible system can move and grow with you, whether you are a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant or a ghost kitchen. Request a demo to get started.