Use the Statewide 15% Commission Cap on 3rd Party Delivery to Grow Your Direct Takeout Business

Graphic commission cap

While scattered reports of certain 3rd Party Delivery (3PD) services NOT honoring WA’s 15% cap on commissions have come to our attention (this article expands on that and more #questionable 3PD practices), this is still a GREAT opportunity to use the service to grow direct takeout diners.


Issue: We received multiple reports from restaurateurs that UBER isn’t recognizing WA’s 15% commission mandate.

Advice: We advise that you keep records of ALL your 3PD transactions from November 25, 2020 in preparation of potential legal action.


Issue: Some 3PD companies have been spotted “re-bagging” orders from your bags into theirs and removing the promotional materials provided by restaurants.

Advice: Talk to your drivers and/or your providers and INSIST that this practice ends on the grounds that this is a blatant violation of Health Codes. Meanwhile, securely tape or staple your promotional materials directly to a box and/or disguise them in an envelope.

On November 25th, 2020, Washington became the first State in America to proclaim a 15% cap on delivery commission. While this doesn’t address all the problem areas of 3PD that have turned restaurateurs off to the idea, with the average commission rate reduced by 20% (give or take) this window of opportunity has tamped down one of the biggest; affordability.

Cool. Now how do we leverage this toward a lasting advantage?

By using 3rd Party Delivery (3PD) orders as a marketing channel for your direct takeout program.

“In the Bag” Messaging, Marketing, & Other Opportunities

In contrast to email marketing and mass mailers, who’s open rates are (generously) 20-30%, 100% of 3PD bags are accepted into your customers personal spaces and opened. What we place in the bag along with their orders can make a huge difference.


One silver lining of the Covid era has been an elevated “Industry Empathy”. With our industry having shouldered frontline/essential worker status, the public at large has become more aware of the nuances and challenges we navigate than ever before. Win hearts, minds, and loyalty by including a message that informs and inspires. Here are a couple of examples you’re welcome to copy or use as a template to infuse your own voice into:

Example 1

We look forward to seeing you soon and thank you for your continued support of RESTAURANT and the other locally owned and operated restaurants like ours.

You have a positive impact on our community every time you choose to order from RESTAURANT. We’re going to miss serving you in the comfort of our dining room. Until then we want you to know that when you order directly from us, 100% of your hard-earned dollars will go directly to the restaurant and staff.

What you may not know is that 3rd Party Delivery companies take a generous percentage commission from each order. When you order directly from us, we invest those savings in what matter most to us; quality ingredients, our family of employees, and enriching this community.

Example 2

We’re committed to ensuring your order is hot & ready at the time reported by your 3rd Party Delivery Platform… While they’re not always able to control traffic and other circumstances that may cause delays that effect the quality of our cuisine, we’d like to extend our commitment by including “Refreshment” instructions for your meal.


This can run a gamut of possibilities that one article couldn’t possibly encapsulate. Frame your marketing collateral to your goals. Here are some successful examples to spark your creativity:

  • Include an initial direct takeout order promotion: A discount on their first takeout order, free appetizer or dessert… Dealers choice.
  • Add a personal touch: Take a page out of the Happy Meal model and include little toys or a small tub of playdough to orders that include kid meals or include recipes for signature dishes or sauces you’re known for.
  • Incentivize more frequent takeout orders: Start a raffle with a few tiered prizes and include a ticket with every order or use this as an opportunity to move non-entrée items by offering tickets for every dessert or appetizer.
  • Invite them to join: an email list, SMS, social media page, or loyalty program so that you can continue to engage with them.

The possibilities are innumerable, and the best plans are the ones that suit you and your diners in the most appropriate manner. You’re not out on your own, we’ve got your back; let’s connect directly to strategize and implement an effective plan:

Contact Andy Cook, Harbor Foodservice’s Complimentary Restaurant Solutions Consultant by email: