Restaurants located near workplaces may receive orders from employers from time to time, but they can also serve groups of workers that might want to order lunch together — and that market is receptive. According to a survey, 90 percent of workers purchase a lunch at least once per week. Office workers often prefer a restaurant meal over a cafeteria lunch, as well, with 63 percent of workers potentially purchasing meals from nearby restaurants. On the other hand, only 18 percent buy lunch from a cafeteria. How can restaurants tap into this demand?
Platforms such as Peach allow restaurants to take orders from offices from groups of workers — instead of employers — and generate lunch orders in the morning, ahead of delivery. The idea is to help restaurants use technology to generate incremental revenue with the facilities and capacities they already have. “It’s all about getting more out of the assets that you have already installed in the kitchen,” Peach, Inc. CEO Nishant Singh said in an interview with PYMNTS.com.
While software can help with the ordering process, these operations are critical with mobile orders. Restaurants have to ensure that food is warm when it arrives, for example. As a result, when restaurants first join the Peach platform, Peach’s restaurant managers train and assist the client and show them the ropes for at least a month. In terms of marketing, Peach sends out daily SMS messages that promote restaurants to groups who sign up for Peach, to help bring in orders. But how can software such as Peach prevent restaurants from accepting more orders than they can fill?
In order to prevent restaurants from becoming flooded, orders have a morning cut-off time. Restaurants on the Peach platform also have a cap on the number of orders that they can accept each day, which can vary depending on the restaurant. A deli, for example, might want to set a lower cap because the sandwich-making process can be labor intensive. Regardless of the cap, offices can order from restaurants via a text-based ordering platform, instead of a more complicated app-based layout.
The idea behind text-based ordering is to make the ordering process more convenient for its target market of busy workers. With a text model, Peach can make ordering easy. “We tell you that, ‘Hey, today there’s a lunch coming to your building, these are the options,’” Singh said. The options are paired with letters and a worker can respond to the text with the letter that corresponds to his or her choice, along with the word ‘yes.’ “You don’t have to open an app; you don’t have to select a restaurant,” Singh said. The idea, in essence, is to reduce friction in the ordering process.
To start the onboarding process for a new office, Peach conducts a two-week trial. The platform offers offices a variety of cuisines to see what kinds of dishes and price points appeal to its users. The idea then is to fine tune the menus over time, and, with more data, Peach can get better at its tailoring its selection. At the same time, Singh said it’s important not to keep sending a particular restaurant to an office over and over again, so workers don’t get tired of the selection.
Peach looks for several factors in a new market. For one, the company seeks cities that are experiencing job growth. Secondly, the company looks at the local weather. Inclement weather — like Seattle’s rainy season — encourages people to order in instead of venturing outside. Finally, in terms of types of properties, office parks work well for platforms such as Peach, as workers in those buildings may need to travel a long distance to pick up food from a restaurant.
In the future, Peach seeks to go deeper into restaurant operations. Overall, the company wants to make kitchens more efficient. When it comes to kitchens, staff training is key, and some mobile ordering platforms miss the importance of training the back-end staff. Services such as Peach can spend the time needed because they don’t need to onboard thousands of restaurants in each market. These types of companies only need a few hundred restaurants for variety — and can use their smaller scale to ensure that restaurants are working effectively to bring in orders from the office lunch crowd.