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Third-Party Delivery Service - Threat or Opportunity: Part I

There are two constants in our business—time is precious and competitors abound. Some days, it is so busy that it’s difficult to get the next day’s Sysco order in the system while ensuring that all of tomorrow’s orders are properly prepped and ready to go. Therefore, as important as it is, it may be difficult to spend significant daily time analyzing exactly which companies are a threat and what should be done about them.

This brings us to UberEATSSeamlessGrub HubEZ Cater and others that we label as middlemen or third party delivery services. Some of these may act as pure alternative delivery services for those individuals looking for a sandwich from their favorite restaurant, and others present themselves as a varied menu-intense portal where an office manager can easily order a meal for a small meeting or a large presentation.

Of course these services come with a price. While charges vary, both the customer and you as the caterer may have to pay. In fact, it is common for these services to bill caterers up to 10% to deliver your order.

My clients are concerned about all of the implications these services present, and they ask me questions like this daily:

“Should I be using one of these services?”

“What about the commission they take?”

“Are some companies better than others?”

“Can I adjust my catering menu prices when using them to offset some of the commission they receive?”

“What happens when I am doing business with a company and then suddenly they tell me that they now need to order thru Seamless or whomever?”

“It seems like some of the third-party portals allow me to adjust our prices and others don’t?”

The risks and rewards in utilizing these services are numerous. Let’s start with some negatives:

1. If you use a third party delivery service, you lose control of your food. If it’s your delivery staff, you know which driver is best for every delivery situation. Paul may be good at climbing steps, but Janice is better with finicky customers. The following scary quote is from an Uber driver:

“I have done delivery stuff and the problems one encounters in delivery are greater than human transport. Uber is just going too fast. They should keep doing what they have proved they can do---legitimate gypsy cab business. I will not walk up several flights of stairs to deliver some lazy ass a meal and listen to his complaints about not getting the sauce he wanted. F this. They are getting stupid if they think this will work. Oh well let them f up what they have done....”

Want that guy delivering your food?

2. You may have to pay 10% to the delivery service. 10% can add up to an appreciable sum and will obviously increase your food cost.

3. Some of these companies put all blame for mistakes directly on you. Check out the Seamless FAQs found on their website:

Who should I call if there is a problem with my order?

The restaurant is the best initial contact for order inquiries. If your order is late or the restaurant made a mistake in fulfilling your order, please contact them directly.

My food arrived and there is something wrong with my order.

It is most efficient for you to contact the restaurant directly so they can quickly offer you a resolve your problem.

Where is my food?

It is most efficient for you to contact the restaurant regarding the status of your order.

I received a confirmation estimating my time of delivery and now the order is late.

Seamless electronically conveys your order to the restaurant. To check on the status of your order, please contact the restaurant directly.

Obviously, once the order is in the hands of Seamless, it is still your responsibility to correct all errors, even if they are not your own.


Michael Rosman is founder of The Corporate Caterer, a membership website, training and consulting company for caterers and restaurateurs and who want to launch, or grow  their corporate drop-off catering business. Michael has over thirty years of experience in the industry and has built an almost two million dollar a year corporate drop-off catering operation from the ground up. Michael can be reached directly at: [email protected]

Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].