Four Questions to Ask When Evaluating Third-Party Delivery Services

According to a recent study, 44 percent of Americans use food delivery services, and the entire country spends over $100 billion on food delivery in a year. Offering delivery can, without a doubt, lead to more sales for your restaurant. 

For restaurants who are not able to employ their own delivery drivers, third-party delivery services like Grubhub, Uber Eats and EatStreet handle the delivery. Customers log into the service’s app, select food options from nearby restaurants and submit an online payment. The food is then delivered by drivers hired by the service. 

When evaluating third-party delivery partners, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the potential risks that each one carries so you can appropriately protect your business. Before signing a contract with a third-party delivery service, ask the following questions. 

Question #1: Who’s liable if the driver is in a car accident?

When a driver is in an accident while delivering food from your restaurant, who is liable? Depending on the third-party delivery service, the responsible party can vary. Many services do not provide liability for drivers, as their contracts specifically state they are only providing the software that connects the restaurant to the delivery driver. In that case, there may not be any insurance outside the driver’s personal auto insurance. The driver may have a low personal limit or might have their coverage denied because food delivery is considered a commercial exposure. In these situations, the victim may turn to the restaurant to cover the costs of the accident. 

If you’re contracting with a third-party delivery service, let your insurance agent know. Your agent can review the contract to determine what types of insurance you may need to protect your restaurant. Additionally, your restaurant’s auto policy should be reviewed to see whether third-party delivery service is a covered exposure. If it’s not covered, your agent can help you find a policy that will provide the necessary coverage. 

Question #2: What kind of screening do you perform for potential drivers?

When you’re working with a third-party delivery service, you can’t control who the service hires as drivers. Because of this, it’s important to learn about the company’s hiring standards to ensure it’s not hiring drivers you wouldn’t be comfortable working with. Ask how the service screens its potential drivers. Does it check motor vehicle records, perform a background check or ask about previous driving experience? If the service’s practices are lax, you may want to consider a different option to minimize the chance of an incident with a delivery driver. 

Question #3: Who is responsible for order errors?

Generally, customers using third-party delivery services are ordering their food through an online platform. When an error with the order occurs, how is that handled? Does the service allow customers to submit complaints, or are customers encouraged to reach out directly to the restaurant? Find out what kind of resources are available should your restaurant receive complaints about the delivery service so you’re able to quickly address these complaints and provide as best a customer service experience as possible. 

Question #4: What kind of order tracking does the service offer?

Related to order errors, using a tracking technology can help determine where a poor customer experience may have gone wrong. A tracking technology that documents when the food order switched hands from the restaurant to the delivery person to the customer is especially helpful in situations dealing with foodborne illness or complaints over food quality. For example, you may discover that while your restaurant provided quick service, the delivery person took an unreasonably long time to deliver a customer’s order, and that’s why it arrived cold. 

On your end, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your food arrives fresh and undamaged. Invest in high-quality to-go containers that will help ensure the food is kept at the proper temperature. Add tamper-evident stickers or labels to deter delivery drivers from opening a container to peek inside or steal a French fry (28 percent of delivery drivers have admitted to stealing food from a customer’s order!). Package sauces and dressings separately to avoid messy and soggy food, and wrap containers with liquids like soup in a plastic bag to prevent spills. 

Working with a third-party delivery service can lead to more business for your restaurant, but it does carry risk to your reputation — and your bottom line. Before signing a contract with a delivery service, be sure you’re informed about the potential risks to your business and talk to your insurance agent to learn how you can prepare your business for any potential pitfalls.