Best Practices to Get the Most (and Lose the Least) From 3rd Party Delivery


The following is a categorical outline expressing the top Problems expressed by restaurateurs against 3PD followed by potential Solutions.


Problem: For many, a 30-35% cut in an already razor thin margin along with the historical ban by 3PD platforms inhibiting your freedom to raise prices on their platform are THE non-starters.

Solution: The 3PD platforms have given up the fight to keep your dine-in prices aligned with your delivery. (Why a company whose primary income stream is commission based would NOT want higher ticket averages is a head scratcher).

Best Practice: Curate your menu factoring travel, packaging, and kitchen impact followed by a new pricing model that absorbs a portion of the 3PD commission and accounts for the packaging costs. When calculating how much of the commission to offset be sure to remain (somewhat) competitive and consider the FOH labor savings of such a BOH centric effort.

Order Security

Problem: The second oft stated frustration or expressed concern from diners is the uncertainty of how secure/protected from the driver their order is.

Solution: Whether-or-not the concern is unfounded, order security is simple; seal the bag. If you’re using paper bags, fold the top and staple it or seal it closed with a logo’d sticker. If you’re using plastic bags, double tie the handles. Some operators slap a sticker across the seal of each boxed item.

Best Practice: A LOT of your success depends on the driver and their willingness or sense of urgency accepting the order. Exercise simple expressions of hospitality all-the-while safeguarding a couple vulnerability points such as offering a small to-go cup of fries or a soft drink for the driver.

Your Brand & Diner Expectations

Problem: A valid concern that, for some, top their list of “Why I’d rather eat hot glass than do 3PD” is that no matter the care and attention you place on each order from conception to execution, you’re handing it off to a random stranger and trusting your efforts survive the experience. Add to that the public’s apparent common-sense blind spot that issues related to delivery is more on the platform, its driver, and the diner specifically than it is on you.

Solution: Truth be told, I don’t have a solution for this one (id you do PLEASE let me know yesterday) but I believe there is a rather simple method you could employ that will go a long way towards minimizing it; include a message in the bag. Here’s an example:

We do everything in our power to ensure your order is as fresh, hot & ready at the time reported by your 3rd Party Delivery Platform as we will when you next come see us in person… While they’re not always able to control traffic and other circumstances that may cause delays that affect the quality of our cuisine, we remain committed to exceeding your expectations. Please let us know if you’ve experienced any delivery related issues.

Best Practice: While the bag is your best and most immediate delivery method, it’s not your only venue for communication. Use the other channels at your disposal; social media, email lists, and even signage. I’d keep it concise, free of complaining, and with a sweet sense of hospitality baked in.

Take it to another level by preparing and including reheating or refreshing instructions appropriate to the dishes ordered.

Pro Tips

Utensils, Napkins, & Condiments: Do you have a drawer in your kitchen that has a confounding number of plastic utensils or chopsticks (even if you can’t recall ever having ordered Asian food?) If you answered yes, you’re in-line with the majority. Stop unconsciously stuffing every order with handfuls of napkins, unrequested condiments, and whole sets of single use flatware. Instead add them as “Free Ad Ons”. You’ll save quite a bit over time, earn some cred from waste conscious diners, and appear slightly more generous by offering free accompaniments.

Pictures: When/if a 3PD platform offers you the option to include pictures, take it! They don’t have to be food photography quality (and cost) but be sure that they meet the following criteria: Well lit, in focus, with a non-distracting background, includes a reference prop to gauge scale, and has all the main ingredients on display and properly presented.

Dietary Spectrum: Just like a single vegan person in a 6 top will likely influence the group’s restaurant selection, that person may still hold sway to a 3PD order. Be sure to include some appetizing options for vegans, vegetarians, keto, gluten or dairy free, etc.

If you really wish to win over hearts and minds, call out common allergies and the options to avoid such ingredients.

Andy Cook is Harbor Foodservice’s Complimentary Restaurant Solutions Consultant. He can be reached at