The relationship between restaurants and delivery drivers, or Dashers, is one of the biggest factors that contributes to a positive customer experience. That’s why it’s important to set up systems and processes that minimize miscommunications and increase accuracy during the Dasher pickup process.
To help your business ensure a seamless Dasher pickup for every delivery order, we gathered tips from restaurants including Yolk in Chicago, Naan & Kabob in Toronto, and Hruska’s Kolaches in Salt Lake City. We also talked to real-world Dasher Leo Ney in Houston, who has completed more than 13,000 pickups in his six years on the DoorDash platform. Keep reading to learn how they’ve incorporated strategies to create an amazing delivery experience for their customers.
1. Designate a dedicated pickup spot
Creating a designated pickup area with clearly marked signage helps Dashers know where to go when they enter your business for the first time. This speeds up the pickup process and helps prevent Dashers from waiting in the same area as your dine-in customers. Designated pickup spots are especially important when you’ve got a high volume of delivery orders. And instead of placing your to-go orders on a shelf or table, Leo suggests using a hot tray or other warming equipment so the orders stay hot while they wait to be picked up.
If you don’t currently have a pickup area, consider it an opportunity to optimize the flow of your restaurant. For Hruska’s Kolaches, they discovered creative ways to utilize their 1,000-square-foot space.
“We installed shelves for both Dasher and customer pickup, and rearranged our shops to help with the flow. But oddly enough, it made us realize we have a lot more space than we thought. It gave us a chance to rethink our layout and make the day-to-day flow a lot easier.
And if you’re opening a new location, you can even build pickup spots into the floor plan to incorporate delivery best practices into the store itself. This will keep people organized, minimize crowding, and help your staff, Dashers, and customers easily navigate the flow.
2. Ask Dashers to identify themselves
With so many people in and out of your restaurant, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. That’s why it’s important to have delivery drivers identify themselves as they walk in. For example, instead of having a Dasher say, “I’m picking up for John,” ask them their name, the order they’re picking up, and which platform they’re delivering for — especially if your restaurant is using multiple platforms.
As a Dasher, you can help restaurant staff identify that you are a Dasher by wearing DoorDash swag such as t-shirts, caps, or lanyards, by carrying your own DoorDash-branded tote bag into the store, or by showing the staff your Dasher app to help restaurants identify you and the order. Of course what you wear is always up to you, and you can check out all of the available swag at the DoorDash Store.
3. Have a staff member double check the order
While it may seem most efficient to place delivery orders on a shelf for Dashers to pick up on their own, that self-service process may cause more problems down the line. While Dashers may review the items themselves, many restaurants have learned that it’s best to have their host or another staff member double check every order before it goes out for delivery.
It’s also a good practice to have a staff member ask to see the order on the Dasher’s phone to confirm the order ID and customer’s name and make sure they have all the right items. “Ideally the restaurant would have a staff member check my phone to make sure I’ve got the right order,” said Leo.
4. Create systems to avoid missing items
A key pain point that many restaurants face is forgetting an item in the rush to get the delivery order to the customer. Often, the missing item is a bottled or canned beverage from the refrigerator, specialty drinks like cocktails and coffees that are prepared at the last minute so they’re fresh, or even retail items like hot sauces and salsas. “One of our most consistently missed items was drinks, so we created a process to fix this issue,” said Gianluca Pesce, Director of Marketing & Communications at Yolk.
Yolk’s process is to have their host use a highlighter to flag any beverages on the actual customer receipt that get attached to the order — not the kitchen ticket. This helps their staff easily see that they need to grab the drink before the order is taken for delivery. They also trained their hosts to ask the Dasher if any drinks are included in the order.
“We didn’t want to make things like espresso drinks right when the orders came in, since they lose quality while waiting for pickup. Highlighting the beverage on the receipt has really helped our staff remember to grab them and decrease the amount of missing drinks.”
Restaurants should know that Dashers also have access to an itemized list for each order — after swiping to indicate their arrival at the restaurant, the DoorDash app will display all the items to help Dashers work with your staff to do a final check. This is especially important if there’s a language barrier; both merchants and Dashers can triple-check the order on the app.
“Restaurants make the food but they get busy and may not remember to hand you the drink — so it’s up to the Dasher to check on it too. Dashers just need to take that step to read the details and make sure nothing is missing. It protects both the driver and the restaurant, and keeps the customer happy.”
5. Rate your Dashers in the Merchant Portal
As a merchant, you can rate your Dasher and your overall delivery experience by going to the Merchant Portal and selecting the Orders tab. Here, you can find the order and select a Dasher rating as Poor, Good, or Great.
DoorDash also helps you curate your own fleet by choosing Dashers you do not want to work with. If you experience an extreme case of unprofessionalism, you can ban that Dasher from your store. After you submit a “Poor” rating, you have an option to choose “Do not offer this Dasher future deliveries” which will prevent the Dasher from completing future deliveries at any of your locations.
6. Set realistic prep times
DoorDash partners have the option to adjust the prep time for an order based on how busy their kitchen is. This will delay the Dasher pickup time and let the customer know that the delivery will be later than expected. When an order comes in on your DoorDash tablet, you can either confirm the suggested prep time or manually enter a new time.
You can also set your Kitchen Status to Busy, which allows you to add a specified amount of additional prep time (and longer delivery ETAs) for every DoorDash order that comes in.
These features help your restaurant better align Dasher pickup times with your kitchen capabilities, as well as give more accurate delivery times to your customers.
7. Monitor trends in the Merchant Portal
While you’re in the Merchant Portal, you can browse through detailed analytics on your menu performance, operations, and customer feedback. In particular, the Operations Quality tab helps you track key metrics such as missing items, Dasher wait time, order accuracy, and customer ratings. The Merchant Portal will analyze these metrics and help you identify your restaurant’s strengths and areas for improvement. Armed with this data, you can then make the necessary adjustments to improve your operations.
8. Hold regular check-ins with your DoorDash account manager
If you have a DoorDash account manager, set up quarterly check-ins to review macro metrics that you don’t have time to look at every day, or to help quantify data like Dasher wait time or customer reviews.
“Successful Dasher pickups start at a higher level, and having good communication with our DoorDash account manager helps us identify trends and problem spots,” noted Gianluca. “You get reviews every day, but unless you’re tracking it regularly it’s hard to quantify it. That’s why it’s good to check that quantified data on a regular basis.”
9. Encourage Dashers to bring hot bags, and safely seal deliver orders
Using proper to-go equipment such as hot bags, catering bags, or insulated tote bags helps improve the delivery food quality and boosts customer ratings for both Dashers and restaurants.
“We try to encourage Dashers to always bring their hot bags, to keep the delivery box warm and safe. That helps to avoid the order being thrown into the driver’s backseat, where it spills or gets soggy — which results in our customers commenting that their order was poorly packaged.”
“Restaurants can help themselves by asking Dashers to use hot bags, especially for bigger orders, and to place the order in the bag right away to keep it hot,” agreed Leo. In fact, he noted that restaurants could require the Dasher to bring in the bag and package it in front of them.
“Just like drivers say ‘no tip, no trip,’ a restaurant can say ‘no bag, no order,’” said Leo.
Leo himself has invested in three catering bags and a pizza bag to ensure the food arrives hot to the customer. He also suggests that Dashers get a collapsible dolly or flatbed cart to carry catering orders.
Some restaurants take the extra safety step to use stickers to prevent tampering with orders. You can purchase these from the DoorDash Store, or use your own. “We purchased customized Naan & Kabob stickers to safely seal our delivery orders — that way no one can open the package except the customer,” added Fahim.
10. Build relationships with your Dashers
During busy restaurant shifts, Dashers sometimes get ignored in the shuffle. Taking time to get to know your Dashers and make their job easier will pay off — as they’ll be more willing to go the extra mile if something goes wrong with the order.
“Most Dashers we deal with are very courteous and understanding,” noted Gianluca. “They’re regular people just like everyone working in our restaurants.”
Leo remembers a recent order that was missing a smoothie, so he went back to the restaurant to pick it up and made a second trip to deliver it to the customer. The restaurant was so appreciative of his dedication that they made a smoothie just for him. He also recalls a Thai restaurant that offered Dashers cold washcloths to cool off from the hot Houston summer heat.
“Sometimes a restaurant will say, ‘Hey, it’s hot out there, would you like a drink?’" It’s these little gestures that make you glad to deliver their order, because the staff is nice and you want to do right by them.”
By following these ten tips, you’ll set your restaurant up for successful Dasher pickups and happier delivery customers. For more strategies to improve your off-premise operations, download our free ebook Optimizing for Delivery and Pickup.