Restaurants build their own delivery staffs as pandemic starves dining rooms
In-house food delivery arms surge, leveling competition against third-party delivery players
While restaurants operate at a smaller dining capacity and food delivery picks up amid novel coronavirus-induced shutdowns, many fast-casual dining spaces are fortifying their own delivery services.
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Several restaurant chains are finding a huge boost in their hiring pool for delivery service, providing a competitive relief within the contracted labor workforce of third-party players, as the U.S. labor market continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Wing Zone, a wing franchise with 90 locations worldwide, has met a more plentiful supply of delivery service drivers and hired more than 200 new drivers on the domestic front.
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“We were struggling to staff restaurants with drivers prior to COVID-19,” Wing Zone co-founder and CEO Matt Friedman told FOX Business. “A lot of ride shares like Uber and Lyft took a lot of the drivers. Third-parties had been booming and the general restaurant space was in a labor shortage.”
Wing Zone’s hybrid delivery model, a combination of direct delivery and takeout as well as third-party services, has kept the franchise afloat by maximizing sales and generating more business in less-permeated cities. However, its direct-delivery arm has surged as more people search for jobs or a means to secure income stability in uncertain times, especially in contrast to the invariable gig economy.
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“When you are working for Wing Zone, you’re there at 10 a.m. and off by 6 p.m.,” Friedman added. “You’re paid an hourly wage and you’re part of a team. It is a very different experience for the employee working for a restaurant brand rather than working for a third-party.”
In addition, freelance delivery drivers do not have the same corporate protection that a smaller, brick-and-mortar-based business can provide.
The boom of in-house delivery has enabled restaurants to compete again with the aggregate food delivery services that finesse hefty delivery fees, according to Nader Masadeh, the CEO of Buffalo Wings & Rings.
“We are trying to push our customers to order on our platform online so we can choose the delivery service partner,” Masadeh told FOX Business.
Toppers Pizza, a pizza franchise with 65 locations across the country, has similarly been riding the wave of a positive business cycle with the influx of people looking for delivery jobs.
“We are going to be able to build that Toppers army that we have always built this business on,” Toppers founder and President Scott Gittrich told FOX Business. “And we are able to run our restaurants in a more favorable way now than it has been for the past years with so much competition.”
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The Wisconsin-based pizza company has seen a higher retention rate compared with its previous years, in-line with its historically low-turnover, long-tenure dynamic.
Buffalo Wings & Rings, a 57-unit sports bar chain, did not have its own delivery service prior to the outbreak of the virus, but several of its franchisees launched a home-grown delivery service in order to avoid third party delivery fees and to give employees another means of income rather than laying them off. The move to direct delivery fast-tracked logistics including the launch of its software, insurance, liability forms, among others.
“We feel like we're in control of our business with our people in the way that we haven't for probably three years,” Gittrich told FOX Business.
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