Jan 18, 2023
 min read

Do More With Less Series: Restaurant Delivery

This article outlines:

Why restaurants must offer delivery to stay competitive

The challenges facing restaurants that want to offer and expand delivery

Seven ways to meet delivery demand even when you’re short-staffed

Many restaurant brands have found themselves in a predicament when it comes to delivery.


Fifty-four percent of adults now consider purchasing takeout or delivery food essential to the way they live, with delivery accounting for approximately 9% of total U.S. restaurant sales. Furthermore, IMARC Group expects the global online food delivery market to reach $223.7 billion by 2027, exhibiting at a growth rate of 11.44% over the next five years.


And yet, the industry is still down 750,000 jobs—roughly 6% of its workforce—from pre-pandemic levels as of May.

How do you satisfy growing consumer demand for delivery when you’re short-staffed?

Stiff competition for workers and a tight budget may seem insurmountable, but you’d be surprised what even the most resource-strapped brand can achieve with the right tech stack and some strategic planning.

Restaurants of all service models can take steps to streamline operations and reduce stress for staff, all while providing guests with the convenient delivery experience they crave.


Start with these seven tactics:

1. Pare down your delivery menu 

Offer a limited or less complex delivery menu using guest feedback and order history as your guide. Identify opportunities to simplify recipes using fewer ingredients and carefully consider how well the food will travel. Regularly test different delivery menu items to ensure guests are getting the best off-premise dining experience possible.

2. Create separate areas for delivery prep and handoff

When a restaurant is short-staffed, the potential for confusion and mistakes goes way up. You can help create a smooth process for staff, delivery couriers, and guests by assigning separate areas for delivery prep and handoff with prominent, straightforward signage.

3. Designate a team member to oversee delivery orders

If your restaurant is receiving 30+ delivery orders per day, name a Delivery Specialist to oversee each part of the order lifecycle: receiving orders, preparing food for handoff, checking for accuracy, passing food from kitchen to courier, and providing communication and support for delivery issues. Alternatively, if the order volume isn’t high enough to demand a full-time role, make it the responsibility of one of your team members to ensure delivery orders are not overlooked at the beginning of their shift.

4. Integrate all online orders with the POS

Consolidate all online orders—direct, third-party, delivery, and pickup—into one dashboard through a single digital commerce engine so that your staff doesn’t have to juggle multiple tablets or manually input transactions into the POS. You’ll spend less time training, improve order accuracy, boost guest satisfaction, and reduce employee stress.

5. Prep what you can beforehand

Think about what can be done during the pre-shift prep period to speed up the delivery process. Have restaurant staff members fill sauce containers, pre-package sides, fold to-go boxes, and other related tasks to boost efficiency and decrease anxiety during peak-volume times.

6. Control delivery order volume with throttling

To control the volume of delivery orders that restaurant locations receive within a particular time frame, brands can take advantage of order throttling strategies. By setting a maximum number of make-time minutes or orders-per-window that can be accepted during a certain time slot, you can ensure that delivery orders get fulfilled in a timely manner and staff aren’t overwhelmed.

7. Leverage an integrated delivery network

Managing a courier fleet in-house can be stressful and expensive. By tapping into an integrated delivery network, restaurants can offer direct delivery without the hassle or commissions. Here’s how it works: Delivery orders placed on your restaurant website or app are automatically paired with third-party couriers so guests get a seamless experience, while you control the order data, guest relationship, and revenue.

To find out how Olo can help launch or strengthen your delivery program, contact us today.

Photo Credit: Rodnae Productions from Pexels

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