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Dimo-nomics: What's in a Delivery



Wrigleyville: 773-525-4580

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Lincoln Square: 773-525-4580

September 20th, 2019

Delivery service has changed a lot in recent years. Here at Dimo’s we’ve seen our delivery services through almost constant change since 2008—starting with our transition from cars to bikes, and later the development of our own kinda sophisticated online ordering platform. 

Pizza in particular has experienced a wave of changes over the past decade. Maybe you remember growing up with a flyer for the local pizza spot taking up a respected position on the refrigerator door, or thumbing through the house datebook for the phone number. The boom of online ordering and unique phone apps changed all that. Along with the pressure of competing with huge chains’ ability to churn out product and deliver it quickly, independent restaurants had to get online and get noticed. We did too, so we ‘teamed up’ with third-party delivery platforms. 

What is a third-party delivery platform? You probably know them by name: UberEats, DoorDash, Postmates, Caviar, and others. Essentially they’re middle men, platforms where customers can place an order to a restaurant through the third party’s site and the third party’s delivery driver or biker will complete the last leg of the journey (getting it to your mouth as quickly as possible). So there’s us, and you, and the “third party” that connects you to us. And these third-party services are often so huge and ubiquitous that along with their enormous customer reach, they bring a massive network of drivers and bikers, who they can deploy at breathtaking speeds to pick up and complete deliveries—speeds that we as an independent, relatively small restaurant have no hope of matching. For restaurants that don’t have the capability of employing their own delivery team, or aren’t able to get traction online in other ways, these services can be a blessing. 

When we decided to use third-party delivery services, we knew that more and more people were using them to order food, and we wanted to put our hat in the ring, so to speak. But “we had to weigh that against what this move would mean for the economy at large, our own team, our bottom line, and the customers who love us and those who have not yet found us,” says Dimitri, the founder of Dimo’s Pizza. In a perfect world—and in fact, when these services first arrived on the scene—we reject the notion that we should prioritize other services before our own team, and we don’t endorse the growth of the gig economy. But it was the right decision, as Dimitri says, “because it's helped us remain open and provide good, meaningful jobs to those who work here.” 

 But these platforms also came with their own set of challenges, and some have been tough for the Dimo’s team to reconcile. You probably already know how third-party delivery apps work for customers, but it’s different for restaurants. Perhaps our biggest challenge is our inability to control the full customer experience when orders are placed through third party apps. 

Here’s a scenario for you: You place an order to Dimo’s through a third-party service. We see your order on our app and confirm it. You get a notification that we’re making your ‘za. Now a third-party driver or biker gets a notification of an order to pick up, and they head over to Dimo’s, grab it, and your address appears on their app, so they bring it to you. Seamless. (Oops, there’s another one. There’s so many!)

It doesn’t always work this way, though. Sometimes, a driver doesn’t get assigned, or they get assigned right as they’re about to take a break, and so no one shows up to get the ‘za. Others, there’s an error in the address listing, so it never gets to you. Still others, a driver or biker doesn’t have the proper equipment to keep a pizza warm all the way to its destination, so you get cold and disappointing ‘za. 

Whatever the issue, it has now gotten a lot more complicated to find a resolution. As the restaurant, we have limited ability to contact customers and help them with their order placement on third-party platforms. We also don’t have the ability to communicate with drivers until they arrive at our storefront. When errors occur, things can get frustrating fast. And even when you clear away all the smoke and mirrors, it’s still not apparent who the customer should call in case of an error, or who’s liable in an emergency. 

It’s a different beast, and an entirely different experience than calling your local ‘za shop back in the 90’s. It’s an honor to bring the love of weird ‘za to new customers, but when they miss out on the full experience, we miss out too. 

And as you may be able to tell from our mission and values, we’re pretty concerned with making sure that we provide the best possible experience not just to customers, but to our team members as well. We’re committed to providing whatever we can to ensure each member of our team can be a whole and balanced person, and chief among our contributions is the commitment to livable wages—that’s also why we support the Restaurant Opportunities Center

However, we can’t provide stability or the guarantee of a livable wage to third-party delivery drivers and bikers. As contractors, the drivers are often responsible for expenses that many employees don’t have to pay, like the full burden of payroll taxes, and their own insurance costs. At the same time, they’re bereft of other safety nets like worker’s compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. When we use these services and pay commissions to them, in effect we are “creating and supporting an economy that is not rewarding, has no growth opportunities, and is limited in its room for skill development,” says Dimitri. That breaks our hearts. 

Ultimately, at least for now these services are here to stay. As the boom starts to bust and some of these services merge, like Doordash and Caviar, we expect the metaphorical dust to settle somewhat. “We’ll continue to optimize for them and we hope we’ll be able to convert as many customers as we can over to our own platform by improving the experience for the customer,” says Dimitri. For us, that means staying online, keeping our boots on the ground, and continuing to provide the best ‘za we know how. We just hope you’ll stay with us while we do.

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