How can food businesses transition staff to food delivery?

Food businesses need to enact certain precautions when transitioning to food delivery.
Food businesses need to enact certain precautions when transitioning to food delivery.

Food businesses around the world are making the decision to provide delivery service in order to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. When switching to a home delivery business model, food businesses need to decide whether to use a third-party delivery service like Uber Eats, or to conduct the deliveries themselves. If choosing to do the deliveries themselves, food businesses need to enact certain precautions when transitioning to food delivery.

Engage your kitchen staff

The first staff you need to engage with before starting home deliveries is your kitchen staff. Your chefs and cooks have to be trained on the menu and learn to prepare meals a certain way. When switching to home deliveries, the food dishes that you will provide must be carefully considered. You need to decide what menu items will be provided, and if those menu items need to be adjusted in any way for home delivery. For example, some food dishes may need to have ingredients swapped for different ones, or some food dishes may need to be prepared in a different way. These changes are important to consider as some food dishes may not travel well for home deliveries. This is the perfect time to involve your kitchen team and use their expertise. They can help decide what dishes are safe ‘as is’, and which ones should be adjusted to ensure proper travel and food safety. They can also provide you with creative ways to alter dishes so that they are made proper for home delivery and still delicious.

Train on the new menu

Once you have created your home delivery menu, ensure that all kitchen staff have been trained thoroughly on the new menu and adjustments to specific meals. It is also important to re-enforce allergen management during this time. When many food dishes are being adjusted simultaneously, some kitchen staff may get easily confused with the new ingredients, or they may try and swap out different ingredients into different meals. This is food safety hazard as it can introduce food allergens into meals that do not normally have those allergens. You must ensure that all kitchen staff know about food allergens, and which dishes contain which allergens in your home delivery menu.

Decide on delivery staff

In order to provide home deliveries, you will need to decide how many delivery drivers you will need in order to provide efficient service. Depending on the size of your food business and the amount of customers you expect to have ordering, you may need anywhere from one to three or more drivers.

When closing your doors to the public, and switching to a home delivery model, many of your staff — such as servers and waitstaff — will be without a job to do. Rather than sending all of your serving staff home, see if you can transition some of them to be your delivery drivers. Keep in mind that in order for a staff member to be a delivery driver, they will need to own their own vehicle, a valid driver’s license and proper insurance to do the deliveries. Do not, under any circumstances, have your delivery staff drive other people’s vehicles while conducting deliveries. This can have legal consequences for the business should they get into a car accident while delivering for your business. If none of your potential delivery staff have their own vehicle, you could look into purchasing a company vehicle to be used for deliveries only. Keep in mind that this is a costly choice, and can be difficult to achieve during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Train your staff for deliveries

Once you have decided on who will be your delivery drivers, it is time to transition them to that role. You need to train your delivery staff on the delivery protocols to ensure a smooth and safe delivery process.

First, drivers should be trained on proper hygiene standards for delivering food. This includes using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable gloves to keep them from potentially contaminating the food or food delivery bags. This is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic, where there is significant concern about contracting COVID-19 from touching an object or surface contaminated with the virus. Using disposable gloves helps to protect your delivery staff and your customers. Staff should also be provided with hand sanitizer and trained to use the sanitizer in between every delivery and when changing disposable gloves.

Next, make sure to train your staff on the proper use and care of the delivery bags. Staff should be trained on the proper bags to use based on the food being delivered. For example, a bag used to deliver pizza is very different than a bag used to deliver a pasta dish. Delivery staff also need to be trained on properly sanitizing the delivery bags in between deliveries to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Finally, train your staff on protocols for dropping off the food. Most food businesses that are providing home delivery during this time are enacting zero contact deliveries. In this case, delivery staff must be instructed to conduct the delivery the following way:

  1. Knock on the door/ring the bell
  2. Leave the delivery just outside the door
  3. Back away 3 meters from the door
  4. Wait until the customer opens the door and picks up the food

By ensuring that your delivery staff are trained on how to conduct home deliveries properly, you can ensure that your customers will be satisfied and continue to order from you. This training also ensures that your staff and your customers are protected by following proper safety protocols for COVID-19.

Ensure management is up-to-date

Managers that are on-site during the day-to-day operations of the food business need to be made aware of the changes being implemented for home delivery. Management needs to be informed about the new menu and any special tasks the kitchen staff are being required to undertake. Management must also be trained on the new delivery protocols in order to ensure that all delivery staff are conducting deliveries properly. Ensuring that management is up-to-date will help them to conduct their role properly and efficiently.

Overall, by training all of your staff on the new delivery protocols and the expectations of their roles, you can ensure a successful transition to a home delivery business model.