With customers craving for convenience, you have the potential to grow your revenue stream by adding or enhancing delivery services. Delivery is particularly popular with millennials; 61 percent indicate the availability of takeout and delivery options is an important factor in choosing a tableservice restaurant, according to the Association’s 2015 Restaurant Industry Forecast.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of millennials said they would order delivery from a tableservice restaurant if available, compared to 56 percent of all adults, the Forecast shows. At limited service restaurants, the demand for delivery is even higher. Eight in 10 millennials (ages 18-34) said they likely would use delivery, compared with 60 percent of all adults.

Heat up your delivery sales with these eight tips:

  1. Partner up. Sites like GrubHub, EatStreet and Caviar act as virtual food courts, letting customers browse through restaurant offerings and order online. The sites provide the ordering infrastructure and expose you to potential customers, who often are ready to place an order. Restaurants typically pay a 10 percent to 20 percent commission. “We only make a dime when the restaurant makes a dollar,” says Abby Hunt, a GrubHub spokesperson.

    Be clear about what each partner brings to the table. For example, GrubHub serves primarily as an ordering portal; in many markets, you’ll still need to handle the delivery through your staff or by hiring a delivery service. GrubHub offers delivery in select markets.
  1. Make an app for that. Mobile and online ordering are replacing phone orders, offering convenience to customers and restaurant operators. Customers can place orders whenever they have a moment, and because they input the orders themselves, accuracy is improved. As for the restaurant, operations aren’t disrupted by phone calls, and an app never forgets to upsell.

    “If you want to see delivery sales jump up right away, add ordering to your website,” says Marcus Higgins, vice president of sales for EatStreet, which offers an ordering widget that restaurants can add to their websites. Restaurants pay a commission for orders placed through the widget. Offer a mobile-optimized version of your site, Higgins urges; more than half the company’s delivery orders are placed through mobile devices.
  1. Deliver on your promise. When Chicago’s Wow Bao introduced delivery in 2009, company president Geoff Alexander would place orders himself to see how the Asian fare arrived. “Customers sitting at home expect the same service as those who dine in,” he says. “They want the food delivered timely and to arrive in quality condition.” Shrink wrap soup containers to avoid spills; 86 the ice to prevent watery beverages; and include utensils and straws, he advises. “Without a fork, a customer’s whole dining experience could be ruined,” he notes. Consider using packaging with clear lids to increase order accuracy, recommends GrubHub’s Abby Hunt. Remove items from your delivery menu if they don’t transport well, she says.
  1. Communicate. Give an estimated time of arrival. Provide updates if delays arise. “Customers want transparency,” Hunt says. “Where’s my food?” ranks as a top call to GrubHub customer care. Some GrubHub restaurants offer a“ Track Your Grub” option that alerts customers when their orders go out the door and lets customers pinpoint the package’s location.
  1. Use pedal power. Wow Bao enlists a bicycle messaging service to navigate the gridlocked streets of Chicago. “Bicycles can fight the traffic, and they can park anywhere,” says Alexander. In more residential areas and in poor weather conditions, Wow Bao uses car delivery. 
  1. Be your own billboard. Use your delivery infrastructure to market your brand. For example, Wow Bao’s catering orders are transported in a bike trailer branded with the restaurant’s logo.
  1. Get a “group mentality.” Pump up your profits by facilitating group orders. EatStreet added a “group ordering” option this year after focus groups identified a large demand. A group leader starts the online order and notifies other participants to add their items, with each member discretely entering their own credit card information.
  1. Reward loyalty. Give customers an incentive to order again. EatStreet encourages its restaurant partners to participate in a loyalty program, where customers earn one point for every dollar spent. The points translate to rewards, like a free item or a discount. Marketing emails notify customers when they’re close to receiving a reward and remind them when it’s time to redeem rewards. “Building a delivery business is not about getting a customer to place one order, but about getting them to come back,” says EatStreet’s Higgins.