Advice
3rd Party Order Platforms -
Why you can’t ignore them

ONLINE FOOD order platforms like UberEats, Deliveroo and Menulog are now being used by one-third of Australians living in capital cities and generate 68 million food orders per year – over 7,000 orders each hour.

These statistics – from a research survey conducted last year by finder.com.au – show why you can’t afford to ignore this potentially lucrative source of business.

Australians are spending a staggering $2.6 billion each year via 3rd party online ordering, which equates to an individual average spend of $1,590 annually.

Sydneysiders are spending the most and also using the platforms more frequently (at least 4.2 times a month), followed by Brisbanites (3.4 times a month) and Melburnians (3.2 times a month).

Finder estimates that online ordering now accounts for 12 per cent of café, restaurant and takeaway food sales. And with many customers using one online order platform exclusively to search for home delivery, it’s important to do your research on the major platforms and decide which ones will help maximise your sales opportunity.

These platforms work by capturing orders from their customers and sending them to your business via your computer or POS system where they can be printed out. You then confirm the order, estimate the cooking time and prepare it for customer pickup or delivery by a driver contracted to the platform.

The key benefit of this process is you don’t have to worry about taking down the orders, getting the customer’s contact information and payment details right –

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allowing you to devote your time and labour simply to preparing the food.

And with many platforms, the more orders you generate, the more exposure you’ll receive – via positive ratings and placement on ‘favourites lists’ which extends your potential customer reach.

The major players in this market are also able to provide you with valuable data that can assist you in menu planning and stock management – such as a breakdown of which menu items are most popular with their customers, and the ability to view your orders  in realtime. 

But be certain to do your homework before you sign up with any online order platform – as they will take a commission on the orders they generate, and you may also be required to sign a minimum term contract, undertake a trial period or contribute towards set-up costs.


Insights
Keeping on top of your business costs

PROFITABILITY in foodservice depends on keeping a close eye on costs – especially those which are on the rise, such as electricity and rents. The fluctuating price of ingredients due to supply shortages and seasonal variations can also cause you problems – pass too many of these on to your customers and you’ll lose your competitive edge, which could spell the end of your business.

A good rule of thumb is to identify your fixed costs at the outset and ensure they are manageable. These include rent, wages, insurance and energy. It’s imperative that your rent is affordable, and that means trying to keep it under 10 per cent of your projected turnover.

With a cost-effective lease in place, you’ll be in a better position to absorb variations in food prices – and avoid having to compromise on ingredients quality, a short-term solution that usually proves to be false economy as nothing drives customers away as quickly as the recognition that your food is no longer up to the standard they’ve come to expect.

Choosing quality ingredients can actually save you money, because you won’t need to use as much per serve to get the same flavour. For example, a good quality pizza cheese such as Perfect Italiano Mozzarella has such good stretch and superior melt

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coverage that you’ll end up using less cheese per pizza than with some competitor products.

Another solution is to turn to cheaper protein choices for your pizza toppings. The rise in popularity of pulled meats and secondary lamb and beef cuts lies in the fact that they cost less but still deliver the flavour and texture that customers are looking for.

You can also keep costs down by conducting regular preventative maintenance on your equipment, such as your oven and refrigeration units. The relatively small cost involved can save you the much higher charges of repair work due to deterioration.


Trends European Foodservice Trends

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SUSTAINABILITY IN THE SPOTLIGHT
According to this year’s SIRHA world hospitality and foodservice event held in France in January, sustainability is going to disrupt the industry’s traditional economic model and change the nature of the way food is produced, preserved, shipped and consumed. Global concerns about plastic packaging waste are helping drive this paradigm shift.

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DIGITAL DELIVERY
Digital delivery services are growing like Topsy, and 43 per cent of French restaurants now say they’ll be offering home delivery by 2020. The ease of online ordering is rapidly creating a market where customers can order takeaway from even a top end restaurant.

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LOCAL FOOD
Today’s younger generation is demonstrating a marked preference for local produce, local consumption and lower food miles. Chefs too are recognising the value of this trend in terms of quality and freshness and the potential to capitalise upon it.

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FUNCTIONAL SUPERFOODS
The days of the ‘superfood’ are back, with ingredients such as turmeric being promoted for their perceived health benefits. Expect to see all manner of benefits being touted for various foods - including mental health, relaxation and even improved brain function.


Perfect Solutions
Secrets of serving perfect pasta

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ONE OF THE big problems when cooking pasta is timing the process so it’s ready at the same time as your other ingredients. The solution to this is to ‘double cook’, which means to par-cook or blanch the pasta to 75 per cent of its optimal cooking time, then chill it down quickly. Then it simply needs to be dropped back into a pot of water for about 30 to 60 seconds to finish it off, which you should only do when your pasta sauce or other ingredients are ready – this allows you to plate and serve dishes faster and more consistently. 

You’ll need to choose a foodservice quality dried pasta which can be used in this way and will still come out al dente at the end of the second cook. This term, which translates as “to the tooth”, is the traditional approach used in Italian cooking to determine when it’s ready – and is even more important when using double-cooking, so you can determine when to take the pasta off the heat at the end of the first of the two cooks.

You do this by biting into the pasta and looking at its core - the aim is for about 75 per cent of the pasta to have a nice yellow ‘wheaty’ colour, while the very centre remains quite white. When you see this, it’s time to take it off the heat. Even after you do that, it will continue to cook a little more, so by the time you drop it into the hot water for the second cook it won’t take long to finish it off.

It’s also important to maintain a high ratio of water to pasta while cooking. In Australia we often fall into the trap of putting too much pasta into a pot which doesn’t have enough water. That means the pasta starts to cook within its own starch, which drops the temperature of the water and makes the pasta quite soft, preventing it from holding its shape.

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