As a restaurant owner, there isn’t much worse than an unhappy customer. They’re the lifeblood of the business. And it’s safe to say, one thing that can cause major issues within any restaurant business is when order deliveries go awry.

First, you have to make sure the food goes out in a timely manner. And then, you have to keep the food at the optimal temperature on the way to the customer, so hot meals don’t get cold. Not only that, but difficulty when ordering and delivery fees can all turn people off from placing phone or online orders with you.

So, if you’re wondering how restaurants can improve their meal delivery, we’re sharing five tips that will help you out. These suggestions are sure to keep your customers happy and leave them coming back to you for more orders in the future.

1. Invest in an Online Menu

Our first tip is to invest in an online menu service. This is a simple way to display all of your available menu items for customers to see. After all, no one wants to deal with complicated or confusing menus. It makes it difficult for them to find what they want, order, and become a happy customer.

Using a popular online marketing platform and network, with a customized app (like NetWaiter) is great because you can conveniently display your menu for all potential customers. Plus, they’re able to order right there through the designated app. It’s a fantastic way to expand your reach and encourage more takeout orders for your business. This type of system is also great because they can distribute your menu across search engines like Google.

2. Give Customers a Delivery Time-Frame

Your customers are hungry and they don’t want to wait long for their food to arrive. If you’re busier than usual and the meal is going to be delayed a bit, tell them. You always want to keep the customer in the know along all stages of the meal delivery process.

Without a time range in mind, customers are going to be wondering where the food is. If that happens, they’ll likely be calling you to find out what’s going on, which is only going to take time away from your other tasks. It doesn’t have to be exactly to the minute but it is important to let customers know how long the wait is beforehand.

3. Don’t Charge a Delivery Fee

Delivering meals to customers is a costly business. You’re paying the employees who are on the clock to make these deliveries, there’s insurance for delivery vehicles, and the constant need to refuel with gas. All of those expenses add up, which is why some restaurants have resorted to charging a delivery fee for phone and online orders.

However, our advice is to ditch the delivery fee. Any additional costs to your customer’s bill is going to dissuade them from buying from you. When they see that you’re not charging extra to deliver, but other restaurants are, they might be more inclined to keep ordering from your business instead.

4. Create a Loyalty/Rewards Program to Keep Customers Ordering

Looking for another way to keep your customers coming back for more? Try creating a loyalty or rewards program. When you offer some sort of incentive for your customers, it gives them a reason to continue dining with you over your competitors.

Think it’s hard to setup? Not at all! There are tons of ways you can keep your customers interested through a loyalty/rewards program. For example, you can set up a system where once a customer has dined with you a certain number of times, they get a percentage off their next bill or maybe you’ll offer them a free appetizer or dessert.

You can set this up as simply as having special loyalty cards printed up and “punched” by the delivery driver each time a customer orders from you. Or, you can always use the restaurant loyalty program that’s integrated into the online menu you’re using.

5. Invest in a Heated Meal Kit Container for Delivery Orders

Is there anything worse than ordering a pizza, eagerly awaiting its delivery, and then it arrives cold? Probably not! Well, at least not when you’re starving and dying to get your hands on a hot slice of pepperoni. Unfortunately, this is a common problem when it comes to delivering food.  One way restaurants can improve their meal delivery is by investing in a heated meal kit container. These types of containers allow you to keep meals at the optimal temperature, meaning they’ll arrive in great condition for your customers. Not only do people prefer their meals warm, keeping them at the temperature they were cooked at will reduce the growth of bacteria.