Respect and Dignity is Essential for Delivery Providers

delivery app workers bike urban area changing providers
Delivery app workers bike urban area changing
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I need to pat myself on the back for this.

Over 25 years ago when we started manufacturing bags for pizza shops, I recognized, in time, that in-restaurant dining would lose market share to the ultimate convenience of home delivery.

The arguments by restaurant owners were always the same; delivery food would cannibalize my customer base, it is too time-consuming, the juice is not worth the squeeze.

All this narrative was “what makes the daisies grow”. 

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A very good friend of mine, a prescient no-nonsense, executive at Gordon Food Service, Paul Nyland said in understated midwestern straight language: “You can never build a restaurant to hold as many customers as there are out there.”

He couldn’t understand why with its potential that delivery was not being embraced by successful operators. The US had lagged far behind other countries that deliver food. 

As we now know, the advent of GrubHub, Uber Eats and Door Dash combined with something called the Pandemic to make convenience a priority.

Most importantly, it brought my vision to fruition with what you could describe now as the “Golden Age” of delivery

I remember reading in the Wall Street Journal long ago that at 4 p.m. most women did not know what they were going to make for dinner.

Today that is of course either the husband or wife! Most of us have received a call that goes like this: “Hi, how is your day going? (not the real reason for the call). What would you like for dinner?” This is code.

What is really being asked is: would you like to go out, pick up food on the way home, or call for food? The message is: I am working and do not have the energy to shop, prep and cook dinner.

The last option is the most logical. 

The old aphorism: “What does a significant other make for supper? Reservations.”

The key to this code is convenience. In two-income households it is not reasonable to shop, prep and cook when great food can be delivered.

This is the foundation for the continued trend to greater reliance on delivery as a key element in a food provider’s baseline (profit plan). 

There are a number of published reports, that document that restaurants that opt to deliver food, have seen revenue increase 30%.

What’s really significant is how much of that new revenue stream finds its way to the bottom line. 

delivery providers courier service third party
Delivery providers courier service third party

Because there’s no capital investment required. The operator doesn’t need a new kitchen, or additional staff, or new space.

A delivery program is a no brainer that makes total business sense. Of course, there are challenges and pitfalls, however the benefits and profits far outweigh other considerations. 

The trend is clear so now let’s look at the challenges to making it work for your restaurant. As I see it, like all business ventures, the challenge is the people.

We are facing a labor shortage. Hiring signs are all over. Who wants to earn a living faced with dangerous weather conditions, delivery to households that are ill? The challenges to building a delivery staff are many.

To my mind, the problem is clear, lack of accountability. Simply put, delivery persons are not licensed or in most cases not bonded or insured.

A good percentage are illegal immigrants. Most employers are grateful to find a delivery person that is breathing. This is shortsighted, but there are solutions. 

Here’s my thoughts on how to make this work for your restaurant.

Pay more, currently delivery providers earn only $11.00 – $12.40 per hour, including tips! There is a movement to organize delivery providers that is growing significantly and will be a factor to be considered.

The organization is, however, disorganized and filled with rifts. Keep an eye on the changing rules that are allowing new immigrants to the U.S. the right to work.

My second suggestion is that we get delivery drivers who are currently using E-bikes are unlicensed and unregulated back on regular bikes. 

These E-bikes are not bikes but heavy vehicles. In NYC there have been over 200 deaths. Navigating food delivery safely will be challenging, unquestionably, it is, however, the key to future profit. It cannot be underestimated.

We first will have to master its challenges.

In the meantime, if you have drivers using E-bikes take the time to get educated on the pitfalls.

Clearly, lithium batteries if mishandled can be dangerous. (A free guidance document is available at www.supplierspartnership.org.)

Accidents involving E-bikes are also on the rise, and there is a greater probability of serious injury as compared with traditional bikes. Training can reduce risk, using low gear to start.

Inexperience with rules of the road such as making sudden lane changes, excessive speed, and the danger of opening doors by motorists, are just a few of the hazards. 

Most E-bike injuries are preventable and require training (preferably in an open area) checking brakes, using low gear to start, installing a BMS – (battery management system) to prevent battery fires, being alert to traffic conditions, avoid using headphones which cancel warnings, horns, etc., and being aware of road conditions, other riders and pedestrians—in short, using the same precautions as driving a car.

If there is an accident, specialized E-bike attorneys are available (of course).

Finally, as an industry, it is time to show the most basic of respects to our drivers.

Which means, of course if you deliver for us, you can use our restaurant’s rest room. Delivery providers, drivers, deserve real respect.

For example, they are prohibited from using restaurant bathrooms! Frankly, I’m glad to see Uber, DoorDash, and others involved in pushing to provide this essential service.

As an industry, let’s act immediately and do what is right.

There are many questions regarding the impact of how the nation’s delivery drivers will band together to push for their rights. California Lyft and Uber lift oppose the organization of delivery drivers.

Ironically, they argue that if delivery drivers form unions for better work conditions and living wages, the brunt of these costs will be paid for by consumers.

As independent contractors, drivers are not protected by federal laws and can be subject to employer retaliation. 

Efforts to unionize such as Los Deliveristas Unido Internacional Alliance (LDUIA) have been hampered by a number of internal rifts.

In 2021 LDUIA surveyed 500 app-based food workers in NYC and published “Essential and Unprotected.”

The average pay with tips was $12.40! (NYC minimum wage is $15 per hour).

Los Deliveristas report says deliverers worked six or seven day a week, provide their own bikes, charging and maintenance and delivery bags.

The irony is that many delivery drivers prefer the freedom of being independent contractors!

The delivery segment is still finding itself, but the long-term rewards will be well worth getting it right as an operator.

There is no magic bullet.

All parties, app providers, unions, and government will have to iron out the deep fissures in what is now an essential part of the food industry.

Resolution won’t be fast or pretty. Delivery is essential. Be proactive. Be prudent. Be informed. 

There will be new and exciting chapters of the new food delivery segment, stay on time as this development unfolds.

Your feedback is welcome in the comments below or email me at sandy@carryhot.com

You can be proactive by asking the tough questions.

We are happy to provide a resource of guidelines using our CarryHOT Deliver Master Guide. It is a small investment of time to read these “tips” and avoid pitfalls that you can use to provide better, safer food delivery. 

Finally, I’m convinced that home cooking is being relegated to special event status. In effect, cooking in on its way like owning a boat or golf to becoming a hobby.

The delivery trend is on the front burner. And if you have not already, add delivery to the tools that will expand your business, make it more stable, as well as more profitable. Best wishes for safer, smart food delivery.

  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • Atosa USA
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Imperial Dade
  • McKee Foodservice
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • Easy Ice
  • BelGioioso Burrata
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • RATIONAL USA
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • Day & Nite
Sandy Plotkin
Sandy Plotkin is the President and CEO of CarryHot USA. He has built the Manhattan company into the world’s leading manufacturer of insulated food delivery bags. He built a highly successful career in the garment industry, when a cold pizza would change his life. Plotkin saw the opportunity to save the world from cold pizza and soggy fries and with that CarryHot USA was born. The company’s bags are the industry standard for many of the nation’s leading pizza and quick serve chains. They have also become a staple in school systems across the country. He authored “Delivery Master USA™” in 1997. It remains the industry standard for operators seeking to create or update their delivery strategy. He can be contacted via email at sandy@carryhot.com
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