How to Turn Your FOH Staff into Delivery Drivers

How to Turn Your FOH Staff into Delivery Drivers
Melissa Bensky

By Melissa Bensky

With COVID-19 shutting down businesses worldwide in 2020, restaurants were forced to shut down their dining rooms and pivot to off-site dining only—takeout and delivery. There are two main options when it comes to opening your restaurant for delivery. The first option is to use a third-party delivery app like UberEats and Doordash, and while they’re great options to increase your restaurant’s reach, they are known to charge a large percentage of the total bill—often upwards of 20-30% in order to use their services.

The second option is take-out and delivery which the restaurateur runs and controls. In-house delivery has become a popular option for restaurants, especially during COVID-19, as there are no added fees and the restaurant has control over the delivery radius.


While restaurants have begun to reopen, dining rooms still cannot be filled to full-capacity to ensure safe distancing amongst customers. This means that keeping your delivery and takeout channels alive and well is necessary to keep your restaurant running efficiently and profitably.

Pros of in-house delivery

  • You have full control over the delivery radius. You can set delivery boundaries and include higher delivery rates for those wanting delivery out of the controlled delivery radius.

  • You have the flexibility to decide your own hours, offerings, and the types of products you are willing to deliver. This could include meal kits, staple meals, and even pantry and produce items.

  • You will be in contact with the customer directly. There is no longer a middle-man controlling the time of delivery and any order mixups that occur. This will ensure the customer gets what they’ve ordered and improve the customer's experience.

  • No added fees. You are in charge of the rates and unlike third-party apps, you will not lose a percentage per order.

Cons of in-house delivery

  • You’re responsible for each step of the delivery process
    You must set and meet expectations of delivery time. Customers do not like waiting long to receive their meal and you must deliver in the shortest possible time.

  • You’re responsible for marketing your in-house delivery effectively and reaching an audience or else you will not receive orders.

  • You must establish a system for managing the orders that come in. The system must run smoothly with no hiccups along the way.

  • You’re responsible for each step of the delivery process
    You must set and meet expectations of delivery time. Customers do not like waiting long to receive their meal and you must deliver in the shortest possible time.

  • You’re responsible for marketing your in-house delivery effectively and reaching an audience or else you will not receive orders.

  • You must establish a system for managing the orders that come in. The system must run smoothly with no hiccups along the way.

Aside from all these cons, one of the biggest cons of self-delivery is needing labor to manage and run this new part of your business to set up the next section

Converting your staff to in-house delivery drivers

One solution to contain the cost of self-delivery is to convert your FOH to your restaurant’s delivery drivers. Not only will you be able retain your FOH staff during COVID-19, but you’ll also be able to keep that 20-30% that third-party apps were taking from your margins.

In fact, between February and March of 2020, there was a 400% increase in delivery driver roles created in 7shifts. That’s not all—from February to June, there’s been a 39% increase in delivery shifts scheduled. It’s clear that many restaurants have turned to offering delivery in-house and are using their staff to fulfill the orders.

There are many things to consider when pivoting to in-house delivery and converting your FOH staff into your drivers. We’ve made a checklist to help you make the conversion process smooth and effective for your restaurant.


1. Talk with your staff

The first step is to see if your FOH staff, especially the staff that have been laid-off or  furloughed due to COVID-19, would be interested in making the change from server or bartender to deliver drivers. When conversing with your staff, it’s important that you lay out certain rules and let them know that they can only become a driver if they have the following qualifications:

  1. Access to a vehicle for numerous hours a day
  2. Auto is in quality shape
  3. Valid driver's license
  4. Auto insurance
  5. Clean driving record

Once you’ve laid out the qualifications you must think of the logistics.

2. Set your delivery zones

You must set zones for delivery and outline the zones on a map for your customers to see. If you are located in the downtown core, you could offer delivery between $0 - $2 if the address is located near-by. If perhaps the address is located 5 miles away, you may want to charge a different amount for delivery as this requires more gas and mileage on the car. It’s important to outline the fees on a map and mention these fees on social media as well as your website. For each delivery zone radius, set an amount to increase your delivery by—for example, $1 for every additional 5 miles.


You must also make a cut-off for delivery. It is not reasonable to deliver to an address that is 20 miles away from your restaurant. The food will get cold, not to mention the mileage and gas required to drive that distance and back. If customers are outside of the delivery zones, let them know you’re available for take-out or curb-side pickup if your restaurant is offering.


It’s always a good idea to do trial runs to see how much gas the driver will use on an average delivery and the amount of time the average delivery will cost. Drive out in a different radius at different times to see how far you can get and the amount of time it takes to get there. Once you determine how far you can get in  a certain time, then you can be confident you are seeing a good delivery zone and associate delivery time.


3. Get car insurance

You must establish who is liable in the event of an accident. Drivers must have auto insurance in order to drive their vehicles, thus you must lay-out in the contract if you will be paying for any damages while on the job. Third-party apps such as Uber cover their drivers insurance while making deliveries. However, this may not be reasonable if you're operating a single, family-owned restaurant.

The best option is to let your auto insurance company know that you are transitioning to a delivery driver. You must opt for a courier insurance policy and let the insurance company know the amount of coverage, if any, the restaurant is willing to cover in the event of an accident.

4. Marketing your delivery

Once you’ve decided to make in-house delivery work and convert your FOH staff to fulfill orders, you have to let customers know your new delivery options—call, text, or DM for delivery rather than through third-party apps. Send emails, make social posts, post on your story, and update your website to promote the new options for delivery. Once you start fulfilling orders, encourage your staff to post pics on their social media and tag you!

5. Decide your labor targets

You must establish a goal and have a clear understanding of the true cost of delivery.

Run the numbers. You can do this by dividing your delivery labor spent by your delivery sales. Additionally, you must look at the price of the menu item, the taxes of said item(s), the delivery fee, gas required and salary of delivery drivers. There is a lot to consider when setting your labor target.

6. Schedule delivery drivers

It can take a lot of time for one driver to deliver one or numerous deliveries, so it’s best to sort your drivers according to the delivery zone. You do not want one driver delivering to zone A and zone D—food might get cold, you’ll spend more on gas, and customers will get impatient. Each driver should have a designated zone, as this will ensure your deliveries are as quick and efficient as possible.

Now you must schedule your drivers in order to meet the labor target you set in the previous step. 7shifts can help make scheduling as easy as if you were scheduling your FOH staff.

Step 1: Change the FOH department to delivery zone. You can add as many departments as needed. The department can be named ‘delivery’ or ‘delivery zone 1’ and so on.

Step 2: Change the FOH roles. Instead of the roles server, host, bartender change these to driver. Assign your staff to drivers and include the department (delivery zone) they will be scheduled to work. This way you will be able to see who is scheduled to X delivery zone. If drivers are unable to work a shift, they can add it into the shift pool, just like they would with their FOH shifts.


Setting your restaurant up for delivery success

As noted, there are many steps restaurateurs need to take to get their in-house delivery off the ground and running effectively.  Here's a checklist to help you throughout the way.

  1. Reach out to your FOH employees, especially those who have been laid-off or furloughed due to COBID-19.
  2. Establish a set of qualifications your delivery drivers would need such as car insurance, valid license, clean driving record.
  3. Set your delivery zones. Establish a clear map, cost of delivery per zone and the amount of time needed to deliver to the different zones.
  4. Market your in-house delivery. Email customers, post about the service on social platforms and update your website to include the service. Get the message out there as much as you can.
  5. Labor target. You must establish a goal and have a clear understanding of the true cost of delivery.
  6. Scheduling your drivers. Establish a game plan for who will be responsible for what delivery zones and perfect an ordering system so the process runs smoothly.

Good luck! Looking for more more tips on delivery, takeout, and other restaurant insights? Follow us on Instagram

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Melissa Bensky
Melissa Bensky

Melissa is a foodie, chocoholic and is always looking for the next food trend. Check out her Instagram @tastethesix to discover Toronto's finest eats.