Recently, I interviewed Bill Siwicki, owner of Pizza Works, and Adam Shorter, owner of Cosmo's Pizza. We discussed their restaurant's delivery programs. Watch the webinar to find out how they are addressing COVID-19 and restaurant delivery:
Brad: Welcome to Rethinking Delivery: Solving the Biggest Challenges. A webinar presented by Pizza Marketplace, and sponsored by SpeedLine Solutions.
There's no question that delivery has become an even more important part of the equation for restaurant success since COVID-19 changed all of our lives. Some restaurants may be implementing delivery for the first time, and others are dealing with a huge increase in both takeout and delivery orders. Today I'm delighted to have two industry experts to provide some of their insights and share their best practices about delivery.
Bill Siwicki is the owner of Pizza Works and has over 32 years of experience. He's not stranger to the constant changes and challenges that the pizza industry faces daily.
He started his career and continues it with Pizza Works, located in Northeast Ohio established in 1976. Pizza Works operates two high volume units. He attributes his company's longevity to a great product, immense desire to give back and be a part of the community, and his constant improvement to technology. With new challenges that we've never encountered before, Pizza Works is well positioned to grow.
Wanting to share the successes, Bill has now formed Pizza Works franchise. Welcome Bill.
Adam Shorter also joins us. He's the owner of Cosmo’s Pizza.
Since 2001, Cosmo's Pizza has been slinging slices to Colorado's front range. Since then, this family owned and operated business has been operated by four brothers, won numerous awards for Best Slice, and pizza in the area. Currently Adam oversees all six locations from Denver to Fort Collins.
My name is Brad Brooks. I am with SpeedLine Solutions. We provide point of sale technology solutions to the restaurant industry, particularly where delivery, online ordering, and enterprise management are key components of success.
Bill, Adam, thank you for joining me today.
Bill: Thank you for having us.
Brad: Let's talk a little bit about marketing to begin with. Adam, let's start with you. What marketing tools do you find that are most effective for you in attracting customers, particularly delivery customers?
Adam: Predominantly we started out, we're in a college town here in Boulder, the biggest locations, so attracting the incoming freshmen is really big for us. Social media, coupon books, and also we do a slice deal at the beginning of the year to attract a lot of the freshmen.
Other things we do is we have a collectible cup that we give out in all the welcoming packages there at the University of Colorado. We also do the same thing up in Fort Collins at Colorado State, and just trying to track that. It's an interesting deal.
It seems like every four years we've got a turnover of students, and a brand new customer base. Those are a couple of the things that we do.
"It seems like every four years we've got a turnover of students, and a brand new customer base." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: Bill, you're up in northeast Ohio. You've been around since 1976. What are you doing in terms of marketing? I've got to think that you must know most of the customers in your area.
Bill: We do, yeah we're pretty established. Gaining new customers isn't nearly as important to us as maintaining the current customer base we have, so just making sure people don't forget about us.
We're constantly out into the community just trying to stay active. We do a ton with all of our schools. We sponsor anything we can. We're one of the major sponsors in schools. We still do a lot of guerrilla type of marketing, so there's a lot of door to door, just going to the neighborhoods and putting coupons in every door. We're going out and taking free lunches to businesses, fire departments.
It's just a matter for us, staying out there and staying relevant and trying to keep these new people from taking our market share.
"It's just a matter for us, staying out there and staying relevant and trying to keep these new people from taking our market share." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: Speaking of one operator, they said that one of the things they instruct their drivers to do is when they drop off a pizza, if they're not super busy that night, they'll go next door, or they'll go a couple doors down and drop off flyers at the surrounding customers in order to attract them, because they're potentially customers that have not had the pizza and if they have toppers on their cars and things like that it becomes something, "Oh I recognize that brand from going to my neighbor's four nights a week."
Bill: Yeah, sure.
Brad: Flyers and direct mail, Adam. You mentioned the piece that you're doing throughout the school year, after school has started. What do you do in terms of engaging those customers or potential new customers?
Adam: We try to get out and we have an email where anybody can email us, and try to do a lot of helping out different organizations. I mean we have a lot of student organizations that will request that we provide pizza for their outing. We have elementary schools, high schools, the college groups, we try to get in with the sports groups as well, sports teams and the directors of the athletic department, and try to do that. With us it's a lot of word of mouth.
Again, social media plays a big part, and the coupon books that we send out to all the dorms. That would be probably our hard mailings that we get out to our surrounding area and our delivery zones.
Brad: Bill you attribute the success of your brand to community involvement. Tell me a little bit of what you're doing there.
Bill: We try to have a really nice circular relationship with anything.
Be it maybe schools or youth organizations, we get them to buy all their concession needs from us. We provide pizza for local school districts, for their pizza lunch days. We make sure that we're giving back and we're one of the largest supporters that the schools can possibly have.
Right now we're in the middle of a $30,000 sponsorship for one of the schools over five years, but it's nice to see a little pizza shop, that name up on the board with your big car dealerships or something like that.
Brad: That's terrific. Let's talk about delivery and branding a little bit. Restaurants that are new to delivery could possibly be using packaging that is plain or completely unbranded.
Adam, tell us what your packaging, what have you done in order to, I guess emphasizes some of the brand values that you have and the quality of your product.
Adam: Well in every single pizza box that we have on the sides we have our web address, cosmospizza.com.
One of the things that I think sets us apart is right at the top of the box in big, bold letters it says, "Free delivery." We are one of the places, it's hard to find places that are doing free delivery out there right now, all the third parties, they have a fee associated with it. That's what I'm trying to plug is we still have free delivery, we have great pizza, and trying to make it as easy to order as possible.
Brad: Bill, are you doing anything on your packaging in order to educate your customers about new products, new offerings that you have, coupons, online ordering, things like that?
Bill: I mean yeah the pizza industry is already set up pretty well, because we've been doing this stuff for eons. Our boxes have been, for decades, have always had all the information on it, website, telephone numbers, stuff like that.
Every single month we definitely put box toppers in the boxes. Not a single box goes out that doesn't have something. It's got to have a menu, comeback coupons, it's got to have something. That's pretty standard practice, but every time.
"Our boxes have been, for decades, have always had all the information on it, website, telephone numbers, stuff like that." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: It's standard for pizza. It is not standard across all the rest of the industry. You would also be surprised, it's standard amongst successful pizzerias. It is not standard amongst pizzerias that are struggling or brand new and or trying to get their feet underneath them.
Bill: We actually have a program through Mail Shark, I'll give a pump, every single month it's the box stuff for the program. We send them in art work every month for the next month, and so every single month you get your piece coming.
Brad: Good. Masks, let's talk a little bit about that. I've got a little story. It is a pie shop, it's a bakery and it's all savory pies here and town, and they have custom branded masks that say, "Shut your pie hole." Have either of you tried anything like that?
Adam: I've done some custom branded masks through, the neck gators through 4Imprint, and it's got a Cosmo's Pizza logo there on it. Gave those out to each of the employees, a set of three or four so that they can rotate them and they can wash them after each single use. It's worked very well. It seems like it's been pretty good received.
Brad: Let's talk about the packaging itself for a moment here. Bill with your packaging, and when I'm talking about things like driver bags, for example, or drink carriers that help to ensure that the product gets to the customer the way that you wanted it to, with that great experience.
What have you done in order to ensure that food stays hot, cold food stays cold?
Bill: I feel like, given for the pizza industry, this is pretty standard practice. We've had hot bags forever.
Something that we definitely started a few years back though, which is kind of nice, is we carry Hershey's brand ice cream. Now our drivers have little coolers, just over the bag coolers so they can put their drinks in there and the ice cream and everything in there. That's been a little extra added bonus, a nice little perk for the customer.
Brad: That's nice, that's nice. Adam what are you doing on that front?
Adam: Again, the pizza bags are really important, and rotating those out as they start to get beat up a little bit.
Cold drinks, again it's training. Making sure that our delivery drivers, or those that are assisting them, aren't filling up the sodas until a minute or so, or two minutes before they're ready to leave, that way they don't get watered down, the ice.
That's really what we're doing. We're trying to do a good job of that. Again, packaging, talking about packaging, we do a 24 inch pizza that we deliver, and with a veggie supreme, I know it's huge, with a veggie supreme there's a lot of moisture in it, and so we spend a little extra on our boxes just to make sure that they're stable, with the pizza savers that we put on those boxes. We definitely don't skimp when it comes to a box, to make sure it gets there how it left the oven, you know.
"We definitely don't skimp when it comes to a box, to make sure it gets there how it left the oven, you know." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: Sorry go ahead Bill.
Bill: No a point Adam makes, packaging, the boxes, they are a very expensive part of the cost. You really have to figure that into the cost of your product if you want to keep a good, quality product going out to your customer.
Brad: Yeah. You mentioned something, Adam very quickly, you mentioned drinks shouldn't be filled up just before they go out. Do you offer fountain drinks at your location?
Adam: Yeah we do fountain drinks. We've never done the bottled drinks, but it's fountain, free refills if you're dining in with us, casual concept.
Again, and I guess going back to the marketing piece, we have a 32 ounce cup and it's a really, really nice cup, it's a collectors cup, we have two sizes of cup, one's a paper cup and one's a nicer cup, and it's not a cup that people throw away.
They try to collect, they save them, we change the artwork so every time they open up their cabinet, they're seeing Cosmo's Pizza and it's just a constant reminder to those people. We've got college students that move all over the country and they still email us from time to time, "Hey I need to get some more Cosmo's cups. Can you send me five or 10, just because I've worn these out."
Brad: Do you have special drink trays or carriers for your drivers, to ensure that those don't spill?
Adam: Somewhat. They fit really nicely into the Coca Cola two liters containers that get mailed to us, so you can put eight of them right there. Each delivery driver has one of those sitting in their passenger seat or on the floor. It works really well.
Brad: That's funny that you mention that.
Bill: Adam, hold onto some of that stuff. You're going to want to save that stuff for posterity some day, so keep as much stuff as you can.
Brad: That's funny. Let's talk a little bit about COVID here. I mean it's changed all of our lives so significantly in the restaurant industry. Bill, what have you done in order to adapt your service to deal with COVID?
Bill: This was a pretty big challenge. One of the things that helped us out quite a bit is we used what's called Jolt. It's an online management app that we use for our employees, so we do all our employee scheduling through there and everything like that. We use their list.
One of the nice things we do is we have a pre-check in list, so they have to check in before their shift starts, ask all the mandatory questions, take their temperature, stuff like that.
The masks have been a challenge. People don't want to wear them. We've tried to do our best, but it's not uncommon to walk into the back of the house and see somebody with a mask down and not on. That's still a challenge, to kind of get on that but they're doing pretty good. We're pretty happy with the staff. It gets hot in these kitchens so it's tough.
Brad: Yeah. Adam, how about you? What are you seeing?
Adam: Well we've definitely changed. I've decided not to do the dine in, make it fast casual, and we do some patio seating in our different locations.
You can come and you can grab a slice. You have to have your mask on, and then you can go sit on the patio. Just to try to continue to keep things safe.
The masks are definitely a challenge, they get hot. I mean it's a tough deal. Trying to create as many breaks for the employees and the staff as possible.
One of the things I do is, and I'm sure a lot of places do this, it's only one staff member on break at a time, and so if they decide they want to go grab a bite to eat, they can eat in the dining room, take their mask off, go outside and just rotate them out so again, when they do have their mask off they're more than six feet apart.
It's been a challenge. Just like anything, you've got to adapt, improvise, and overcome. If you're going to stay relevant you've got to continue to do that, and evaluate every day with how things are going, and being able to change. I know everybody, particularly early on, all this information coming out every single day, it was like you were pivoting every day and getting flooded with information from the staff, the employees, and their concerns.
"I know everybody, particularly early on, all this information coming out every single day, it was like you were pivoting every day and getting flooded with information from the staff, the employees, and their concerns." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: Go ahead Bill.
Bill: Just a point on Adam there. A lot of it that's helped is just the human nature aspect of it.
All of our employees they're humans, they're teenagers, they're our life blood, so really trying to have a little bit more understanding on how they feel, and even emotionally and physically through the whole ordeal.
Something as simple as, in past summers you walk into your kitchen you're like, "Why is the air conditioning cranked down so low?" Now you're maybe a little bit more apt to be like, "All right, just let it go. These guys are hot, they're working hard. It's extreme conditions."
"All of our employees they're humans, they're teenagers, they're our life blood, so really trying to have a little bit more understanding on how they feel, and even emotionally and physically through the whole ordeal." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: I don't want to take this to a political area but I do want to ask a question.
There's been complaints that some of the government assistance that has been provided to employees has acted as a disincentive for hiring and retaining employees. Have either of you experienced any of that in your stores? Bill?
Adam: I personally haven't experienced a ton of that. Maybe one or two people early on.
I know I got, and I'm sure everybody did, the unemployment papers that came through, probably multiplied by 1,000 for me. I mean typically in a general month I may get one or two where during those heavy months I was getting, I don't know, 15 or 20 a week. That was difficult.
A lot of them are still staff and teammates that were with us. We had to trim back some of our hours and they were just trying to compensate for lost pay. Again, just what Bill and you guys were talking about, it's listening to your staff, talking to them.
I mean we do slices and there's a couple locations that we just pulled slices for about a month, two months until they felt good, comfortable to do that. I was fine with that because trying to force somebody to do something that they're not willing to do, it's not a smart move, particularly when you're not there and you expect them to run that location as if they're the owner.
That's what I like to instill upon them. "If you guys make a decision, go with it. If you can justify it then how can I fault you?" Because I don't want people overthinking stuff, or not reacting because they're thinking of what I'm going to think, what I'm going to say.
We're going to do a quick poll here. The question is, well we're going to talk about third-party delivery in a moment here, but do you use third-party delivery?
I'm just going to open up the poll here. I've launched the polling. You should be able to see it on your screen, and you can go ahead and answer that. We'll leave it open for a moment or so so people can respond.
We've got lots of responses coming in. Let us know where you fall on this, whether or not you use third-party delivery. Got lots of responses that have come in here. I'll close it off in a second and I'll share these results here in just a moment.
Adam and Bill, can you still see the screen where it says poll on the screen, or are we onto another screen here? This is the first time I've used the polling so I'm just checking.
Adam: I saw in, I minimized mine.
Brad: Okay good enough. I'm in the polling here. We'll share those results in a moment here, as we continue.
Bill and Adam I talked to you briefly about this beforehand. Adam you decided not to do any third-party delivery. Tell us a little bit about what went into that decision for you.
Adam: We've been around since 2001. I know it's not as long as Bill, but we've had delivery, in-house delivery, ever since then. When this came around, and the technology, we definitely investigated it, looked into it, and decided that at that point it just wasn't for us.
I know that they've come a long way, even since it began. We're talking a little bit about you guys with the tablets and whatnot, and how POS systems have integrated it.
It's just something that I never wanted to do. I want to have a little bit more control over where our pizzas go, how they go out.
Again I mentioned we have a 24 inch pizza. Not every DoorDash, Uber Eats driver carries around a 24 inch pizza bag.
I don't know how far out those things go. I limit our delivery to about 8 minutes delivery time maximum from each of our locations, where I'm not sure that they care about that.
Not to mention the fees that came along with it. I felt the fees, I'd like to keep a little bit more of those profits for us, and staff and our organization.
"I want to have a little bit more control over where our pizzas go, how they go out." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: That makes sense. Bill, now you've made a different decision.You've gone with Grubhub as one of the providers for you for third-party delivery. What's that experience been like for you?
Bill: We did. We were probably one of the first ones in our area that tried it out.
It was really tough the first nine months, and it's probably been in our area about two years now. The first nine months, service was just horrible, horrible, horrible. They'd show up 45 minutes late to get their pizza.
I told Adam earlier I think he dodged a bullet there because it's all about service. We definitely encourage our customers to not use the third-party.
We still have it. We wanted to use our service, but one of the reasons why we did do it is we do have a lot of customers in our outlying area that are really big fans, and they just want the product, so it kind of appeases them a little bit. Adam is right, sometimes they go really far. I mean they'll take pizza deliveries 20, 25-30 minutes away.
Brad: Loss of quality certainly is a huge one there. You're using SpeedLine, and you mentioned beforehand when we were chatting that you have this integrated with your SpeedLine system. Orders come in to Grubhub, they go through a company called Chowly that automatically inputs the order into SpeedLine. Does that order look exactly like as if you entered it yourself, or are there major differences?
Bill: It's identical. There's some more jargon on the ticket, but it doesn't affect us. The make tickets in the quality station, still the juice is there, and we get everything we need off of it.
Brad: Thanks. There's restaurants out there that are dealing with six, seven, eight tablets that they're trying to manage, so using a service like Chowly, integrated with point of sale, is a huge piece to look for.
Bill: If you're going to do third-party, it's worth it. I mean it's not much money, it's only about $30 per location. It's worth that hassle of not having your employees, the human error, the not screwing up and putting an order in.
Brad: There's human error. There's also the labor costs. I was speaking with a group. We estimated that their cost per store was about $24,000 a year just to have people enter in orders because they're receiving so many third-party ones. For them, the cost saving was immediate.
Bill: Yeah and picking up that tablet and putting it into your POS, it's not as easy as answering the phone. There's more labor into it. You're grabbing it, you're unplugging it, you're taking it over the phone. It's not user friendly.
Brad: Right. Poll results. About 65% of the attendees have used, or are using third-party. 35% are not. It's not scientific by any stretch, but in that minute and a half we had it open about 40 people responded, so that's pretty interesting.
Hiring and retention. Let's talk about what qualities you look for in a driver. Adam, why don't you talk about that first?
Adam: A sense of urgency I think is a quality that you'd want in any employee, particularly a delivery driver.
Obviously when they go out they are representing your brand, your company, so cleanliness, the hygiene and whatnot. Again that goes for each and every single employee that walks through our door. I know I've had some employees where they come in, I can smell them from across the counter, and I say, "Have a nice day. I appreciate you coming in," and never talk to that person again.
Brick and mortar is great, but people make the place, and Cosmo's Pizza is all about the people, and just finding the right people and creating the right culture and word of mouth.
When you have benefits for all of our staff, everybody that works for us, we talked yesterday, we do ski passes that we give out here in Colorado which is really great, and not all these high school/college students can afford ski passes, and that's something that means a lot to them.
Hiring is really asking any questions. I can't get that across to our management enough. It is really good to understand these people, get to know them, ask open ended questions, not yes and no, and just see how they react. If you get a person with a good attitude, good work ethic, a little bit of, obviously attention to detail, but a sense of urgency, I mean those people are invaluable.
Brad: Bill for your drivers, when you are hiring them, how do you pay them? Do you pay them per mile, do you pay them per delivery? How do you break that down for your drivers?
Bill: They get paid an hourly rate plus their tips and $1.00 per delivery that they take.
Brad: Okay. Adam you mentioned that you don't have a delivery fee, so how do you compensate your drivers?
Adam: We also do an hourly rate. They get to keep all of their tip money, 100% of their tip money. I find that because we have free delivery and not the delivery fee, that a lot of people tend to tip a little bit more because they don't assume that that delivery fee is going to the driver. I get a lot of drivers that like that.
I know there's a ton of different ways to cut it. I know that the big corporations do it a different way. It seems like everybody's got a little different way to do it but yeah, the hourly fee, they get to keep 100% of their tip money, and it seems to work out pretty well for us.
Brad: Bill, where do you advertise in order to find employees in general, but specifically drivers?
Bill: We start first off with our staff, most of our hires come from within, so they're referred from current staff. Obviously we have to take care of our staff. Hiring delivery drivers, as anyone can find out, is pretty tough.
Our drivers usually own their cars, and so people have this stigma that driving their own car, they don't want to do it.
We also advertise, when we do advertise we go through social media, and we advertise. It's a high rate. Our drivers make $14-20 an hour. I think that's hard to believe for a lot of people, but they really do make that much. The biggest thing we probably do is make sure that we keep the drivers.
Once they're there, they're usually referred by another employee, they're making really good money. We treat them well and make sure they stay. We don't have to advertise a ton.
"Hiring delivery drivers, as anyone can find out, is pretty tough." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: That's good.
It's interesting as you have been talking, for both of you, there's a real sense of culture that you've instilled and that you talk about.
You talk about the community involvement. I can see all of those things coming together in terms of going and looking and finding employees, and making that a much easier process than if you had to have a cold start where people didn't know. They maybe only knew you for your pizza, not for your community involvement, not for how you think and care about your employees.
As I have hired teams, both in the restaurant industry as well as in technology, I've hired teams in sales, there's some common traits that I look for amongst employees that I'm hiring that are going to be dealing with the public or dealing with a customer for example.
One of the things, I always tell them, "I want you to be yourself." I like great personalities, and I try to tell them, "I don't want you to talk like me. I want you to talk like you. Just be yourself through all of this.
I give them standards that I want them to achieve, but I also want them to shine. How do you train people to do that? Adam, let's start with you in terms of creating a sense of, I would say, I fire within to serve the customers as opposed to, "Here's a list of things I want you to say to every customer."
Adam: Right. I think it goes back to when you're hiring. When you're hiring you're looking for certain characteristics in people, whether they're talkative or not talkative, and I agree with you 100%.
Don't give them a list. Please and thank you's go a long way. I say that over and over again, as much as we can do that. I think a big part of it is simply hiring good people and you get them in there, you kind of evaluate them, I feel like every day is an interview, is the way I tell the staff, is that every day is an interview, and every day you go in there and you're trying to be your best possible self.
As a manager, or as a GM or even the owner, you've got to evaluate your staff, everybody can't do everything. Trying to put those people in the best possible position to be successful. If you've got someone who's an introvert but does a great job watching the pizzas and cutting slices, do that, don't put them at the cashier position.
If you've got somebody who's very talkative, and you'll have them, and very personable, put those people out front and try to do that as much as possible, and really again, everybody can't do everything. Evaluate your people, evaluate your staff and put them with their skill sets in the best position to be successful.
At Cosmo's we got people who work up front at the register, the slices, we got cooks, we got ovens people, we got delivery drivers. If you're working the ovens, you don't really have to talk to anybody. If you're quiet and you're kind of focused and you put that person in that position, they're going to be successful.
That's what we try to do. We have a lot of people in our staff that again, focus on putting them where they can be successful.
"Evaluate your people, evaluate your staff and put them with their skill sets in the best position to be successful." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: Bill for training, what would you do, so you hire a new driver, let me ask a separate question first. Do you see a big difference between the quality of people that you have as drivers and the way that they're trained, and what you see coming in from third-party delivery drivers?
Bill: Oh yeah, most definitely. I'm thinking the third-party, I think as long as you have a pulse, a pulse and a car, you probably have a job.
Our drivers, just like any other employee, what we're looking for is to see if they're going to fit in our culture, see if they're going to fit in the kitchen. It's tight. The staff gets along really, really well. They have a team. Last thing we need to do is get somebody in there who's going to disrupt that flow. We're really looking, for the most part, to see if people are going to fit into that team. With us, are you outgoing and open, do you like to have fun?
One of our operating credos is, "Work hard and have fun." I mean I've been doing it for 30 some years and I need to have fun if I'm going to go into work because if I don't, I'm going to dread it, it's going to be horrible. As long as they're working hard, they can have some fun. We're looking for people to kind of fit that.
Brad: I think there's a tendency to think that delivery is so simple, just give your driver a bag, set them loose. I suspect that neither of you do that with your organizations. Bill let's start with you on this. How do you train employees?
Bill: The actual delivery part of it, taking the pizza to the house, no that actually is pretty easy. We used to do, I see in your list there, we used to do ride alongs, and we'd kind of sit there with the car, "Go up, give them their pizza." It was that simple.
Nowadays it's even easier with everybody paying online, paying ahead of time. These drivers are just walking up to the door, a lot of times just leaving it on the doorstep. That part of it is pretty easy. Then we have our kitchen training. There's a whole process they go through. They've got to train in all different stations. They have a training mentor that goes with them from day one, yeah.
"They have a training mentor that goes with them from day one." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: Adam, you were nodding when he was talking about ride alongs. How do you train?
Adam: We do ride alongs on slow days. I mean we’re in two college towns and the summer is going to be pretty slow.
If they get off to a faster period start, once the students come back, which is going to happen here next week, so we'll do some ride alongs, we'll do that, and again, the mentoring. We certainly do that. Every time that we bring a new hire on, they're an extra on the staff.
One of the things that we do, and I tell them, "Hey for the first two or three shifts that you are working, we're not going to tip you out on the in house tips. This is a training period." I think the people who are there really appreciate that, the staff that's currently there really appreciates that because they don't want to always feel like their tips are being pulled from to help you train a new employee. They really embrace that because they know they're going to help them down the line, as mentors or whatnot.
Brad: For optimizing delivery, Adam you had a very interesting thing. I was thinking terms of mileage but you used minutes, eight minutes in order to deliver. Is that how you determine your delivery zones, just basically doing a circumference or an approximate circumference for an eight minute drive in order to ensure fresh product?
Adam: Well any time I go out and I drive different times in the day, particularly when I'm scouting out new locations, how long does it take me to get, what areas am I trying to hit.
Yeah, it's not a circumference. I mean our delivery areas, and you can do that through the SpeedLine app there, your system. Again, I really try to keep it at eight, maybe 10 minute range tops.
Again, I feel like product is a lot better when it gets there. Obviously the fresher it is, the best. I think our product right out of the oven, when you're able to eat, do slices, and when it comes right out of the oven you're able to eat it right then, yeah you may burn your mouth but it's a lot better right there than 15-20 minutes down the road, or heck even a half hour down the road.
Yeah really trying to keep it tight. A lot of our drivers, again, to be in and out, maybe take two or three if they're clustered, so they can be successful, again, and keep up the quality and the standard of our product.
"A lot of our drivers, again, to be in and out, maybe take two or three if they're clustered, so they can be successful, again, and keep up the quality and the standard of our product." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: Bill for your deliveries do you have delivery zones where you charge different rates, do you have a flat rate? How do you price that?
Bill: We don't. We have one zone. It's a flat rate for the locations. We are very similar to Adam. Our theory has always been if we can keep our area smaller, and get to those customers fast and back, we'll let the other guys worry about the customer that's 10, 15, 20 minutes away.
Likewise, it's a very odd territory. We just drive and it's very strange. It's not this big circle where it doesn't make sense. We've gone out and looked and said, "Okay what's this intersection like? There's a train track that's going to derail the delivery." We try to keep all those in mind when we make our delivery areas.
"We've gone out and looked and said, "Okay what's this intersection like? There's a train track that's going to derail the delivery." We try to keep all those in mind when we make our delivery areas." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: If you're an outsider to the industry, you might think tools like navigation on your phone are really important to drivers, but as I've talked to drivers more and more, they tell me they know the area so well they don't even use the navigation on their phone. Is that your experience as well?
Bill: With us it's partially true, but the advent of GPS has been amazing. I mean I remember always when you'd have the maps on the back of the coolers and stuff like that, different zones.
What's still nice about the mapping is that it takes you right to their door. You're not strolling down the street trying to find an address on someone's house that you can't see the numbers. The mapping, it's quite helpful.
Brad: It's helpful I think for the last block. Not the last mile, the last block.
Bill: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Brad: Yeah. That's on as well.
I want to do another poll here. The question is, do you provide vehicles or do your employees provide their own vehicles? We'll just launch that. We'll leave it open for a couple moments here. We'll let people respond to that.
While we're opening up the poll here, Bill, how do you handle deliveries? They use their own vehicle is what you said earlier.
Bill: Yeah they do, they use their own vehicle. We have done extensive research. It just comes down to economics. It doesn't make sense to own vehicles, for us to own company owned vehicles. The money isn't there.
Brad: Adam, you're in the same boat, correct? Go ahead.
Adam: We have a couple company owned vehicles, and predominantly we require the delivery driver has their own cars. I do have a couple ones that we use for large catering orders, just to help someone out.
Inevitably somebody's car is going to break down, and they're going to ask to borrow our company car, which we will do. We kind of charge a little fee, it's like $10 to use our car, something like that. Make sure that it comes back with the same amount of gas that it left with, you know those types of things.
Yeah predominantly it's your own car, you're using your own vehicle.
"We have a couple company owned vehicles, and predominantly we require the delivery driver has their own cars." - Adam Shorter, Pizza Works
Brad: Bill do you have any toppers or magnetic signs or anything that you put on the vehicle in order to let people know this is a delivery coming from your pizzeria?
Bill: Yeah we use LED toppers on the car. They have a nice, soft magnet that doesn't scratch the top of the car. Years back these magnets would just scratch the heck out of the top of people's cars, but nowadays they're pretty nice.
Brad: Adam, do you have standards? You mentioned your standards in terms of the employee when they come in, and having proper hygiene and so forth. What do you have in terms of requirements for the vehicle? Do you expect it to be clean and washed?
You live in areas where there's snow. You're going to have salt all over cars in the winter. I can imagine it gets kind of nasty.
Adam: You know Colorado doesn't use a whole lot of salt. They throw sand down, and it makes it-
Brad: I don't know if that's better or worse.
Adam: When I lived back east the roads seemed to be a lot better. The sun comes out and you have a snowy day here on the front range for a day or two and the sun comes out and melts it all away.
As far as requirements for the car, we do a walk around and make sure the car is in working order, headlights, taillights are all working, nothing seems, proper tread and whatnot. That's all part of our insurance that we have to do, and maintain, which is another fun thing to do, pulling up MVR reports on your delivery drivers, which third-party you don't have to worry about.
We have had, again we have large pizzas and sometimes when you have that smaller car, you're going to miss out on a bigger order, larger catering order because you simply can't handle it, the size. As far as requirements, we don't necessarily have that with our drivers.
Bill: We do a check every six months like clockwork on their insurance to make sure they have their insurance up to date, their license, make sure they stay under two points. Same way, their actual vehicle, no we don't actually check it.
Brad: I've got a question for you Bill. It sounds like you're doing a little bit half in half, part in shop, part third-party. How do your in-house delivery drivers like that, that they're kind of losing out on potential deliveries to a third-party?
Bill: I don't think they seem to view it that way, at least I don't get that impression in the store. Those orders that come through, they're just used to it. I don't know. I just don't think they view it that way.
Brad: Sharing the poll results really quickly here. There's 96%, or 24 out of the 25 people that responded there say that their employees provide their own vehicles, so that's interesting.
Let's jump to our last topic today. We'll talk a little bit about moments of truth. McKenzie, they did a study 20 years ago talking about the experience of those moments of truth. This is when there's a moment in the transaction when you're either resolving an issue or you're just doing a particularly good job of selling it, where the value of the product you're selling actually goes up or down depending on the service you're receiving.
We talked a little bit about this before. Let's talk about errors. All of us have dealt with inaccurate orders, as a customer and as a person selling products. In store it's really easy to deal with, but when you're eight minutes away from the store, what are your drivers empowered to do if there's an issue that they discover at the doorstep? Adam, I'll look to you.
Adam: Our drivers are empowered to do whatever is necessary to resolve it.
I know one of the toughest things is to get the drivers to remember to take, whatever it is, drinks or a side of this, or ranch, anything except for the pizza. They always remember the pizza but sometimes they'll forget those things.
They have the power to offer discounts, or to call it back. Inevitably at the end of the day if the customer really wants that, then it's their responsibility to come back, grab it, and take it back to the customer, which never really goes, I mean it goes okay, but the delivery driver is wasting time on the road.
Whatever they can do to help out the customer, make the customer happy, they have the right to do with us.
"Our drivers are empowered to do whatever is necessary to resolve [the problem]." - Adam Shorter, Cosmo's Pizza
Brad: What do you deal with special requests, when a person calls in with a special request, either in terms of delivery or in terms of preparation?
Bill, that's one of those things that you're going to deal with at the point of order, but when you have the special request as Adam said, and you have a customer who is unhappy with the way they've received something, your driver, do they just call back to the store immediately, or do they handle it themselves?
Bill: Most times with us, our experience is the driver doesn't really even get presented with it. If it's a special request or something like that the customer is usually taking their pizza or whatever it is, they're going in the house, and they don't even realize it until the driver’s already well been on their way.
That's when they're calling the store. That's just our experience. We don't get a whole lot of face to face complaints or concerns right to the driver themselves.
Actually, we don't get that many of them on the phone or to us anymore either. It seems like it goes straight to social media now, which is a whole other challenging talk.
Brad: Of course. There will be a future webinar. We'll talk about how to deal with social media. We'll all learn something.
We're going to open it up to questions here. We've got a number of questions that have come in, which is always wonderful. I'll rattle through a few of these.
Silvia has got a question. "How do you encourage customers to use your system of delivery?" I think what they're referring to there is opposed to the third-party one.
For you Bill, what are you doing in order to bring those customers and turn them from a Postmates customer or a DoorDash, or a Grubhub customer, and turn them into one of your customers?
Bill: We have a couple different parts that we go on that. One would be our advertising, when we're constantly pushing people to our website, pushing them to order through us.
We never advertise that we do third-party. We've never advertised one time that we do Grubhub.
If a customer finds us on Grubhub and orders from us, that's great, but we're never going to push anybody towards that. That's number one.
Number two, if somebody is calling into the store and they have questions about delivery or something like that, we're encouraging them to try to take their deliveries with us, or to go online to our website.
Basically we don't talk about the third-party to our customers at all. We try to avoid that. We keep the Grubhub and we let the customers use it if they find them on Grubhub, that's great. We'll make them a great pizza, but we just push people away from it.
"Basically we don't talk about the third-party to our customers at all. We try to avoid that. We keep the Grubhub and we let the customers use it if they find them on Grubhub, that's great. We'll make them a great pizza, but we just push people away from it." - Bill Siwicki, Pizza Works
Brad: A question about chargeback claims comes from Ed. "Have you seen credit card chargeback claims go up or down when you're using a third-party?" This is for you Bill.
Bill: No. The way the third-party works is we're paid directly from Grubhub. This is one of the things where you wonder how a third-party makes any money, because if the order is screwed up, the driver takes too long, something like that, let's say the driver takes too long. Grubhub will refund the customer but they still pay us. Grubhub is our customer.
I know you want to say the end customer is ours, the person that placed the order for the pizza, but Grubhub is our customer. We get paid by Grubhub regardless of what happens. No chargebacks ever. We just get the money dumped in our account like it's a credit card every day.
Brad: Adam, when you say hourly wage for drivers, is it a full minimum wage or is it a special rate? What are the regulations there in Colorado?
Adam: It's up to us, and certain shops where we have delivery drivers particularly that work during the day, we pay them a minimum wage because they end up helping out with more of the in house stuff, the little bit of prep that we do.
The majority of our drivers get paid slightly below minimum wage. Minimum wage out here, I mean it's different pertaining to the county but overall here in Colorado is $12.00 an hour. About a buck or so less. I know, it's crazy, right? That's what they do.
What we do, yeah we report their tips, and pay that as a percentage of their income. If they don't meet the minimum wage requirement, then we pay up to that minimum wage for them.
Again, I think that's one location that we have and it's predominantly day drivers where they'll take, to be a driver and they'll take four or five deliveries, something like that.
Brad: Bill, maybe you can share with us the average transaction amount, just to infer the cost associated with delivery. The second part of that question is “how many transactions does each driver complete on average during a shift in the evening?”
Bill: Anywhere from 15-20, they're able to get out. We don't let them take more than three at a time. We just minimum of that. Yeah, 15-20 is about the max that they're going to get out.
Brad: The average transaction size, you're in that $20-30 range, or are you a little higher?
Bill: No they're probably about $24 for our average sale for delivery. They're probably averaging about $5 per delivery in tips, plus their dollar per delivery that they're taking, and we pay minimum wage, which in Ohio is considerably lower than Colorado, I think $7.
Brad: Adam is that consistent with what you're seeing as well?
Adam: Obviously just like anything it depends on what day you're talking about. A Monday is going to be different than a Friday, and a day is going to be different than a night. Right now what we see particularly pre-COVID, and even during COVID right now is our day deliveries tend to be less in number but higher in volume.
We do a lot more catering type orders during the day than we do in the evenings.
Then our evening numbers tend to be, I mean our average delivery in the evenings is probably between $30-34 range. Drivers will take anywhere, again Monday through Friday we're talking the lows, they'll probably take 15 deliveries, and the highs, I mean I've seen guys on certain nights be up in the mid 40s, yeah. Some of those, we're running a lot of drivers. We'll have anywhere from five to nine drivers on some of those nights where we're really just cranking it.
Brad: Okay. Dave has got a question, and I'll direct this to you Bill. “What software do you use to manage logistics and managing drivers? Is it in-house, or off the shelf.”
Bill: In-house, SpeedLine.
Brad: You're using SpeedLine in house as well Adam?
Adam: Yeah. SpeedLine does a great job.
Bill: Yeah some of the new features I love, and we haven't used it yet, it'll email a customer and email the directions to the delivery driver as soon as they dispatch out. Adam, do you use that?
Adam: I've used that in the past and what I find is that sometimes, on our very busy nights, that customer will get their email and they may be, like what you're saying, that third person in line, and they end up calling back and being like, "Hey I just got your email. Why aren't you here within five minutes?"
Everybody always thinks that they're the first person in that dispatch. Again, it works awesome. I think it's a great thing. The customers love it. It only bites us on that busy night where it's the third person in that line.
Brad: Do you use the features, either one of you, for establishing when a driver will be back? You assign the deliveries to them, it optimizes the route and then it will tell you approximately what time that driver will be back so you can plan future deliveries. Are you leveraging that in store?
Adam: I do, in a couple of different ways honestly. The days maybe we'll have one or two delivery drivers on, and if they have to go further away and coming back and we hit a delivery while they're gone, we try to time up the best time of when they're going to be back to throw that pizza in there, eight minute cook or whatnot, to get it out basically right when they're coming in.
We'll delay it, depending on what that is. Likewise I know there's plenty of times where we'll be busy in the evenings and we'll have a swing driver on, somebody who's in shop if we need them, they can drive, and if the next driver back isn't supposed to be back in that time and all of the sudden it hits yellow, and the dots turn white you're good, when it turns yellow get out the door, and red it's probably going to be late.
If it turns yellow and we have a swing driver on and that next driver is not supposed to be back because of dispatch time within that time, we'll send that swing driver out. We really try to use that to the best of our ability, as well as having that map that you guys have, that I think is great.
We have that in such a place, on actually a pretty large TV where our managers, our cooks can see that, and maybe even jump orders ahead or behind to cluster some of the deliveries that go out together.
Brad: Terrific. That's great. Last question here. I'll direct this to you Bill. You talked about your research that you did when you were determining whether or not you were going to have vehicles that you own or vehicles that are owned by the employee.
In terms of insurance for your drivers, what do you require, and is there additional liability insurance that you need to carry because you have delivery drivers?
Bill: Yeah we have to carry our own liability insurance, specifically just for delivery. The driver themselves has to carry their own insurance.
Our insurance, if they get in an accident that's still going to be on them. Our insurance most likely is not going to cover that. Our insurance is just there by some off chance that someone wants to go up the ladder and start suing people.
The state of Ohio, we definitely still have to have it. The last year and a half they really cracked down on what the insurance requirements were for the drivers.
That made it a little bit harder for us to keep drivers, because their insurance went up quite a bit. We make every driver sign off that they've told their insurance company that they're delivering, because they like to skirt around that type of stuff too. We do everything we can to minimize our risk when it comes to the delivery.
Brad: Very good, thank you. I want to thank everybody for all the great questions. I'm sorry that we didn't have a chance to get to all of them, that's often what happens. Bill Siwicki from Pizza Works, and Adam Shorter from Cosmo's Pizza, I want to thank both of you for sharing your insights on this industry. It's been a challenging time and I appreciate you taking this hour out in order to help the rest of the industry. Thank you for doing that. Thank you to Pizza Marketplace as well for coordinating this event. It's been very informative. Thank you.
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Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2020 @ 13:08 PM.
Updated on November 10, 2020 @ 8:27 PM PST.
Brad is the Sales & Marketing Director at SpeedLine Solutions and is always looking for an opportunity to tell people about his Viking heritage. Rather than relying on his warrior genes, Brad instead chooses to depend upon his 20 years of experience in the restaurant technology industry to help him lead the sales and marketing teams to victory.