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Hands-free hospitality: How to make no-contact delivery part of your business model

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No-contact delivery visual guide  (PDF)

The coronavirus and the stay-at-home orders that are confining Washingtonians to their homes means that customer service now must become as impersonal as possible. 

This is the key of no-contact delivery. 

No-contact delivery is currently the default for deliveries done by DoorDash, and it’s been picked up by DominosPostmates and Papa John’s among other delivery services. The principle has been simple to adopt for larger chains, but you don’t need to be a huge franchise to make this work for you.  

Note: no-contact delivery is by no means the only method that has been effective for members during this time. There are many solutions, including curbside service and drive-thru, that remain viable under the current legal and health situation. Don’t stop doing what’s working well for you. 

Questions to ask when setting up no-contact delivery: 

  • How do I take orders? Whether you’re experienced in delivering your food product to customers or you are taking your first steps into the delivery world, how you take orders is important. There’s a lot of digital apps, third-party services and online systems. If you want to go digital, you may want to reach out to your point-of-sale system providers and see what syncs well with the technology you’re already using. Or, consider simply putting your phone number out there — telephone has no hidden fees or middlemen, and may remain a highly popular method of contact for customers who may be unwilling to risk exposure to pick up dinner. 
  • How do I reach customers? A billboard advertisement probably isn’t going to get much traction over the next few months, so make sure you consider how customers are engaging with your business. Customers will be going out less, which means the media they are consuming is going to be more focused. Social media is going to be critical to promoting yourself at times like this, and you may want to get creative with how you get your messaging out there. You want to communicate to customers that it is safe to order delivery food. You can reassure your customers by demonstrating your dedication to sanitation through social media (or digital advertising?).  
  • How do I minimize human/food contact? The key of no-contact delivery is in the lack of contact with human beings.   You should be considering how to package and prepare food so that it can be delivered easily, safely and that it’s apparent there’s been no tampering with it. Consider placing a sticker that has to be broken to seal a container — anything that can prove that the package was not disturbed in any way during a delivery can invoke a sense of security in your customer, and encourage repeat business. 
  • How can I maintain quality? Don’t allow a potentially new challenge like delivery to damage the quality of your food. Invest in tools that can help – insulated delivery bags are a key piece of equipment that can help keep food warm and can be used as a platform to help facilitate no-contact delivery at doorsteps. Look to quality materials to transport food in, and consider the new challenges of shifting contents and spilled sauces. Be able to address those challenges. 
  • What’s your price point? Many are facing layoffs. Your customer base has a lot of stress and concern at this time and cash flows are going to be tightly reigned in should this event continue. Having a competitive price for delivery is going to be critical. With front-of-house service no longer being possible, consider what savings this brings to your operation and how those savings can streamline and help reduce costs to delivery. 
  • How clean are your vehicles? In a delivery environment, your delivery vehicles will be an extension of your business. They should be kept as clean  as possible. Consider the state of delivery vehicles if you are partnering with third-party service – UberEats has announced it is providing disinfectants and cleaning supplies to their drivers. GrubHub said on its website it encourages the use of an insulated delivery bag, which is routinely disinfected. If you are establishing your own delivery services, make sure you are living up to or exceeding these standards. 

So what is no-contact delivery? 

Essentially, the system for no-contact delivery is: 

  • Take the order from the customer — collect payment in advance over the phone or through an app. Include driver tip at this time. Ensure your system has a way of taking special notes from customers. Let them tell you how they would prefer to receive their food when at all possible 
  • Prepare food in a clean, safe kitchen – employees must adhere to sick policies and stay home if ill. 
  • Box food in secure packaging – ensure a team member is checking orders for accuracy, quality and communicated allergies  
  • All employees who handle food, from prep to delivery, exercise perfect hand washing habits and hygiene. 
  • The deliverer knocks on the door, leaves food at the doorstep, in a manner that doesn’t contaminate or disrupt the package, and moves away to a safe distance.  
  • Your customer answers the door and takes the food. Distance of six feet is maintained between customer and deliverer, who confirms order is received before departing. 
  • Your customer enjoys a safe, delicious meal! 

No-contact delivery visual guide  (PDF)