About a year ago, many caterers were concerned about third party delivery services like Seamless, Favor and UberEATS. Some were worried that another slew of competitors had arrived to try to occupy even more of the fragmented food delivery business landscape. Our members wanted me to write about this subject and offer defensive solutions that we could each apply to fight this technology-based wave of new industry players.
I, however, wasn’t impressed with these startups. They looked like poorly trained middlemen to me, and my main message was that as soon as a restaurant or caterer put their food into the hands of a third party delivery service, all control was lost.
From an Uber Driver
In my article posted here, I shared this quote from an Uber delivery guy:
“I have done delivery stuff and the problems one encounters in delivery are greater than human transport. Uber is just going too fast. They should keep doing what they have proved they can do—legitimate gypsy cab business. I will not walk up several flights of stairs to deliver some lazy ass a meal and listen to his complaints about not getting the sauce he wanted. F this. They are getting stupid if they think this will work. Oh well let them f up what they have done….”
I certainly would not be comfortable letting someone like this guy delivery my food.
Uber also actually had a service called UBER Instant delivery. They would buy food from restaurants and/or commissaries, meet drivers at a pre-determined location around 10:00 a.m., and hand food to drivers who would put the goods in those rectangular insulated delivery bags. The drivers would hit downtown areas, wait until someone ordered the dish they were given, drive to the customer’s location and deliver the food from their vehicle as anyone who ordered had to come down and meet the car.
Caterers were worried that some of their ten-person box lunch orders, for example, might occasionally fall victim to Uber Instant delivery. I, on the other hand, was waiting for Uber to be cited by local health departments for selling food without a license, since, in some cases, there was only an Uber sticker on each food bowl or tray as if a centralized, inspected and licensed Uber facility had prepared the food, and I knew that just wasn’t the case.
In September, this was the news:
Yes, Uber still delivers food, but customers now face at least a 30 – 60-minute wait time, and delivery times are not guaranteed.
Uber gave up trying to be instant and abandoned that part of their business with no warning. The only way many Uber customers found this out was because their phone app mysteriously didn’t offer instant food anymore. No emails or texts were sent, and no explanations were offered except in the belated press release linked above. I wonder how their drivers were told about this.
Just Wait and Keep Going
While at times you may be mentally sidetracked by new competitors, the best thing to do is to make sure that you are delivering, tasty, correctly priced, and nicely presented food on-time. If you pay attention to your own operation and take care of your customers, food delivery middlemen will have a difficult time taking business from you. Remember, you have a deep commitment to your customers, employees and businesses. I doubt that that Uber, Favor and the rest share those same values.
Have a great catering week and let us know what you think about third-party delivery services. We’d love to have a conversation!