When your catering order arrives, maybe you’ve wondered how much to tip the delivery driver. Or whether to fork over money for a tip when your bill already includes a delivery fee. In those cases, are the tips definitely going to the drivers? Are you double-tipping? And what is a delivery fee?
In order to clear up the confusion about delivery fees, we talked to our very own Sean Kleeman, Delivery Enablement Success Manager at ezCater, who works with restaurants and delivery companies to ensure you have a great delivery experience. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about delivery fees, so you know exactly where your money is going the next time you tip your delivery driver.
1. What Is a Delivery Fee?
Restaurants charge delivery fees to offset the costs of delivering food from their kitchens to your office. The average delivery fee is around 7–15 percent of the delivery order, but these fees vary across restaurants. Some restaurants even waive the fee.
While it’s not pleasant to pay an extra charge, delivery fees are the price of convenience. According to Sean, the cost of delivering food to customers is more expensive than you might think. “The delivery fee covers incidentals and everything that’s going to get the food order from point A to point B, minus the driver’s living wage,” he explains.
Delivery fees typically help restaurants to cover:
- car maintenance
- delivery equipment
- extra packaging to protect food quality during delivery
- parking tickets
- liability insurance
- driver support
- delivery dispatchers
As you can see, the list of expenses covered by a delivery fee is long. When it comes to catering orders, delivery is even more complicated. That’s because catering orders are larger and require extra time, care, and packaging. Consequently, delivery fees will inch up with larger orders—but the quality of the delivery service also tends to improve, Sean adds.
Tip: Be on the lookout for hidden service fees. Some delivery apps charge a service fee on top of the restaurant’s delivery charge—and that can get pretty expensive. You won’t find that at ezCater. But when you’re ordering food to eat at home or catering for work, make sure you choose a delivery app that does right by you.
2. Delivery Fees vs. Tipping
What is one big misconception about delivery fees? That they go toward a delivery driver’s hourly wage, says Sean. That’s why Sean has a lot of empathy for delivery drivers, who can put as much as two hours of work into delivering and setting up a large catering order.
“A lot of these guys are independent contractors, and they don’t have good health insurance or benefits,” Sean says. “It’s really essential they receive tips in order to have a living wage.”
“Delivery is a huge expense for restaurants, and we don’t want to see delivery drivers taking the hit,” Sean continues. “We hope customers understand that delivery is a kind of convenience and that tipping is a necessity.”
Tip: When you’re planning a catering order, make room in your budget for the delivery fee and a tip for the driver. Expect to tip 10 percent on an average business catering order—on top of the delivery fee.
3. Catering Is Different
Have you ever noticed that business catering orders generally look nicer than the meals delivered to your home? While catering orders may come with a slightly higher delivery fee—more than the fiver you’re used to—the extra money goes toward a better experience. That experience may include nicer packaging, help with setup, and better-looking food, thanks to the use of proper equipment to protect your food during the drive. And these details are important when you’re using catering to impress the VIPs at your office.
So if your office usually places large catering orders that come with high delivery fees, it’s reasonable to expect more from your caterers. “If it’s a $30 delivery fee, you’re totally right to expect the driver to set up the order for you,” Sean explains. “You’re getting what you pay for out of a delivery fee.”
Ultimately, delivery fees go into TLC for your orders. That extra care can help make your day easier, whether that means a nice and hot pasta setup for your VIPs or box lunches delivered on the dot for your killer sales presentation.
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