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Sep 16, 2020

Improving restaurant profits with direct mail and saving your bottom line by moving off of delivery Apps

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on individuals and businesses alike. And while many are struggling to find a niche in this new normal, there’s one industry that’s thriving -- the restaurant takeout industry.

While it’s true that in-person dining has taken a backseat in recent months (and understandably so), takeout and delivery from restaurants have been among the select few services that have become even more popular. In fact, people are spending 30 percent more on takeout food and drink during the pandemic than they did before March 2020.(

And yet, it’s not a perfect solution. Delivery apps have increased in popularity since the pandemic set in, but restaurants aren’t seeing all of the money they expected. In fact, in many cases, restaurants that are seemingly thriving are getting just pennies on the dollar from these apps. It’s a difficult situation for a restaurant to be in, to say the least.

Fortunately, there’s a way out for restaurants. A way to stay in the minds of their consumers, without signing over a significant cut of their revenue over to the delivery apps.

The Problem with Delivery Apps

In theory, delivery apps like Grubhub, Postmates, Seamless and Uber Eats represent a great deal for both customers and restaurants. Hungry consumers can get their food quickly and easily. They don’t have to leave their homes, and because the ordering is done through the app, they don’t even have to make a phone call. Restaurants still have the ability to spread their reach and attract new business without having to employ a full-time delivery person or provide delivery services of their own. On paper, it’s a win-win.

However, in reality, it’s not quite that simple. These delivery apps do provide convenience, but they also come with a healthy share of fees that aren’t quite apparent at first sight.

When a customer wants to place an order on an app, they’re presented with a menu containing items that are likely to be slightly marked up from their usual prices. It’s only a few dollars extra, the customer figures. It’s no big deal. Then, the customer moves through the buying process, and discovers that they have to pay not only a flat delivery fee, but a service fee that varies depending on the restaurant. On top of that, the customer is encouraged to leave a healthy tip that entices a driver to pick up the job. All in all, using a delivery app can add quite a bit of money -- sometimes $20 or more -- to the cost of the food.

Up until March 2020, these fees were a relatively minor annoyance. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, delivery app fees became a virtual necessity. Consumers stayed home, whether via executive order or out of concern for their own safety. The combination of the ease of these apps, in addition to the fact that not all restaurants offer delivery services of their own, made delivery apps a hot commodity as the situation got worse.

Restaurants, therefore, felt compelled to follow along with consumer demand. A restaurant that was not featured on these delivery apps was one that was forgotten about by consumers. Therefore, restaurants made sure they were part of the most popular apps on the market.

If customers were shocked by the fees they ended up paying for food delivery, they’ve got nothing on the restaurants themselves. A tool that was supposed to help restaurants stay in business has instead pushed many of these restaurants to the brink.

A viral post in May 2020 shed light on a topic that most customers never thought about, and one that some restaurants were blissfully unaware of. The post showed the Grubhub invoice for a Chicago pizzeria. The pizzeria had rung up more than $1,000 in sales, but ended up receiving less than $400 from Grubhub. The remaining $600 went entirely towards fees charged by Grubhub.

Now, not every restaurant pays 60 percent of its profits towards delivery apps. But the apps sure do take their cut. Just as customers pay delivery and service fees to these apps, restaurants must also pay a commission fee of their own. In essence, the app gets paid twice, while the restaurant gets a reduced amount. Additionally, the apps themselves strongly encourage restaurants to participate in promotions that would place the restaurant at the top of the listings for a particular style of food, or to eliminate delivery fees for customers. These promotions also cut into the restaurant’s revenue. No matter how you slice it, restaurants aren’t getting nearly enough money from these apps, which purport to keep restaurants in business during these challenging times.

Unfortunately, because of the circumstances in which we now live, many restaurants feel it’s necessary to be on these apps, even if the apps are taking way more than their fair share. After all, some revenue is better than no revenue. But there’s another lifeline for restaurants out there.

Enter Direct Mail

Direct mail, while still popular, has the stigma of an older form of marketing. It’s something most of us grew up with, and it’s the virtual opposite of the digital marketing that’s become so prevalent in today’s society. And that’s exactly why you should consider using direct mail.

First, consider the delivery app landscape. Even if your restaurant is included in a delivery app, you’re competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of local establishments. And if you don’t play the game and sign over a healthy chunk of your profits in the name of in-app promotions, odds are good that you won’t get noticed anyway. So why even try?

Instead, you’re much better served investing that money into direct mail. When an individual consumer receives your direct mail postcard, you’re engaging that customer in one-on-one discourse. You’re no longer one swipe away from being forgotten. Now, you have a unique chance to make an impression on that consumer, in a way that’s not possible on a delivery app.

What’s more, direct mail has a higher response rate than anything in the digital realm. Instead of merely hoping someone will notice you on an app, you now have the ability to go out and get the sales you want. Direct mail’s response rate is as high as nine percent, which is exponentially higher than that of email or social media marketing. And it’s miles higher than any promotion in a delivery app.

Through direct mail, you have the chance to cut through the digital clutter and appeal to customers in a traditional, yet effective manner. Best of all, when you do make a sale, you’ll get one hundred percent of the profits -- which is exactly what you deserve.

Direct Mail Options

One of the best parts about modern direct mail is that it’s not exactly as old-fashioned as it seems. You can use your existing digital marketing strategies to dictate who receives your direct mail pieces. Or, you can simply just blast your local area with promotional postcards.

Sending a postcard to everyone in a given area is as simple as going to and using our Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) option. With EDDM, simply enter your desired zip code and choose the mail routes you want. We’ll print out postcards, made to your exact specifications, and have them delivered to every residence on that route.

If you want to fine-tune your approach, you can use Targeted Direct Mail to use a demographic-based distribution. However, for a local restaurant, an EDDM approach is likely to work best.

The benefits of using EDDM instead of delivery apps are extensive. With delivery apps, you don’t know what you’re going to end up with at the end of the month until you get it -- and you may find that number to be far less than you anticipated. With EDDM through, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you’re using a more effective and cost-effective method of promoting your services. You can then use that cost savings towards bolstering your business in this difficult time or offering services that your customers demand. Let us show you how to increase your bottom line, and help you see your business through this tough time by using EDDM from


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