Catering Delivery Charges: Yes or No?

Michael Attias Nov 14, 2012

Last night I received an email from a new client asking me about what the delivery charge should be for his catering service.

The answer is simple, yet complex.

In a perfect world, were I to start a catering profit center today, I would not charge for delivery. I would build it into my cost of goods and use “free delivery” as a marketing statement or unique selling proposition.

catering delivery driver software

How can you stand out from the competition? Free delivery is one tool. You can’t be shy with your marketing message. It needs to be everywhere. It is a condition of doing business with you.

Domino’s Pizza did not become one of the big three by saying they may get it to you in thirty minutes.

No. “Fresh, Hot Pizza Delivered To Your Door In 30 Minutes Or It’s Free.” That is the phrase that launched an empire.

Café Pera: Where Catering Delivery & Set Up Are Always Free*

(*$150 Minimum Order – Must Be Within 5 Miles Of Restaurant – Please Call For Pricing Outside Our Free Delivery Radius).

I normally hate asterisks or weasel clauses. When it comes to delivery, you must set up parameters.

Even if every other caterer offers free delivery, I’m betting they do a poor job of promoting it.

A great marketer is like a great defense attorney. You use all proof possible to help your client.

Here’s an example of a catering delivery charge;I have a client that charges ten percent of the order, but that includes delivery, set-up, wire chaffing racks and Sterno. To make the charge more palatable, they automatically rebate the delivery fee in gift certificates given through the Restaurant Catering Systems Loyalty Program.

If you must charge, a rebate to the decision maker isn’t a bad way to go.

Some of my clients charge based on order size or distance from the restaurant. Due to the complexity and different methods to the madness, RCS created a simple interface to allow delivery charges to be auto calculated based on zip code, radius and dollar size as a set dollar figure or percentage of the sale.

Thankfully, I’m not a programmer.

Remember, a lot of catering clients will tip the driver. Make sure your delivery drivers are well dressed, polite, clean, and take the time to set up the order and walk the customer through the table and what to do.

That driver can make or break you. A Brad Pitt looking driver will do more to build your business than you’ll ever know.

I recommend investing in some foldable dollies. You’ll look more professional and prevent worker’s comp claims.

At Corky’s, we were lucky to have found an outside courier who did a great job.

NOTE: I’m not in the business of providing legal, accounting or insurance advice. Do your homework on auto insurance and employees using their own cars and the use of subcontractors (think teachers on summer break, stay at home moms, etc.)

As much as I’d love to believe my fancy ads are all it takes, I’d be fooling myself. A good ad is like perfect curb appeal on a home. It can make you walk in the front door, but if the foundation and inside are poor, you won’t get a client.

A wonderful phone person, great food, great service, delivered on time, with nothing left out and with enough food to feed everyone without the last person scraping the pan…that my friends is marketing.   

Well That’s All For This Issue!

Michael Attias

Restaurant Catering Software

P.S. – If you need help growing catering sales, then please go to and download my free eBook: Cater or Die!

P.P.S. – I make a limited number of time slots available each week for a free Catering Strategy Session with me. For complete details and to grab one of the limited spots, please go to:

See more posts about: catering profit center, catering sales, catering customer service, catering marketing, catering delivery

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