OPERATIONS: Everyone wins on the ''one per run' delivery system

May 26, 2003

Jim Moran is a pizza and restaurant industry veteran, and an industry consultant and speaker with Restaurant Trainers, Inc.

As a consultant for Restaurant Trainers, Inc., I travel widely as a consultant and leader of training seminars for restaurant companies. But regardless of where I go, I've found a consistent and recurring theme: the conflicts that exist between pizza delivery drivers and managers are the same everywhere. Even in the Cayman Islands, where we held some training seminars recently, the same battles brewed.

These conflicts are completely avoidable, however, if managers and drivers strive for the same long-term goal: delivering more pizzas year over year rather than short-term goal of delivering the most pizzas per run per night.

Let me demonstrate the difference with this highly scientific formula below:

More Deliveries = More Sales = More Profit.

Jim Moran

Seems obvious, right? It's not to everyone. And the failure to grasp this concept is at the root of the ongoing conflict between drivers and managers.

Let's use the most common driver-manager conflict as an example. I don't think there should be a lot of suspense as to what that conflict is: A driver has a delivery ready to go, but he or she wants to wait for another delivery going in that direction.

While it is true the driver will make more money on that run by taking two deliveries, waiting on the second order is a very shortsighted decision. Perpetually waiting for that second run will usually lead to less money for the night and will always lead to making less money over an extended period of time.

Seen it both ways

Having worked as a driver, manager and owner, I'm familiar with all sides of this issue. Where possible, I loved sending double runs, but only when appropriate. It's waiting anywhere from four to 14 minutes for that second run that I warn you not to do. (Incidentally, if you have a habit of sending triple-runs, you are putting yourself on a path of declining long-term sales that you will, in all likelihood, recognize too late to recover from. There is no way that the third delivery is the kind of product you should be serving your customers.)

To highlight this issue with my staff, I did an experiment one night when I was a supervisor. There was a veteran driver at one store who always wanted to wait for another run "going in that direction." One night I told him that his dreams had come true; he could wait for a second delivery on every run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. I would also be delivering pizzas in that time period, but I would deliver only single runs.

It turned out he did deliver one more order than I did (24-23). But let's look at the results more closely. Ignore for the moment that, being a regular driver at that store, he clearly had an advantage over me in his knowledge of the delivery area. But my average delivery time to the door was a lot better than his (19.2 minutes versus his 25.6).

Add to this the difference in tips: I pocketed $52 while he got $39. The higher tips are a clear indication that the customers were happier with the superior service I delivered. And they were surely happier with the product, because none of my deliveries waited in the store for another nearby run.

The only logical conclusion is that my customers would be more inclined to order in the future than his would, and that will have the biggest impact on both the driver's and the manager's ultimate goal -- to make money!

There is another driver-manager conflict that baffles me: drivers' refusal to promote the business by handing out flyers (doorhangers, menus, coupons, etc.), because it's "not in my job description."

In next month's column, I point out some ways to solve this problem, and discuss the best ways to make your drivers an integral part of our promotional strategy. I'll demonstrate a battle plan that will put a whole lot more money in everybody's pockets.

Other articles by Jim Moran ...

OPERATIONS: Cross-training lowers labor cost, boosts morale
OPERATIONS: The secrets of running low labor

Topics: Operations Management

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