Sponsored by Frank’s RedHot® Sauce
Whether it’s for tailgating, holiday get-togethers or binge-watching favorite TV shows, food makes the occasion more enjoyable. For many consumers, that means wings and other shareable foods from their favorite restaurants. Delivery is booming, and operators say they have updated their processes enabling them to respond to this growing demand for flavorful wings off premises.
According to The NPD Group in its report, Future of Foodservice Snapshot: Restaurant Delivery, the last five years has seen a 20 percent increase in delivery sales and 10 percent gain in delivery foodservice visits. Digital ordering represents about half of all delivery visits, while third-party delivery services such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash account for much of the digital delivery growth, especially among full-service restaurants. Also, according to NPD, chicken wings are the fifth most-popular delivered food. (Pizza is No. 1.)
Operators make certain that they prepare the wings in a manner that maintains their quality when they arrive at the customer’s door. “The way we do our wings is that they are deep fried and finished off on the grill,” says Michael Godart, owner of Grillin’ Wings & Things, with two locations in the Denver area. “They stay crispier longer, and they deliver very well.”
The wings are available with a variety of sauces, including Honey Hot, Fire Hot, Spicy Garlic Chili, Mango Habanero and others. One challenge with delivery is that if wings are allowed to remain in a box for a while, the sauce can soak into the wings. The consumer might see the wings and think they lack sauce, so Grillin’ Wings includes an extra serving of sauce with each order.
“We’re trying to please our customers,” Godart says. “Some people like it extra crispy; some people like it extra saucy. It’s a challenge especially when you’re doing deliveries.”
At New York-based Melt Shop, delivery accounts for 30 to 40 percent of total sales per location. “Delivery plays a significant role in our business,” says Spencer Rubin, founder and CEO. “And it’s an interesting part of the business.”
Melt Shop recently launched its own ordering site and also invested in special packaging for catering orders. The large, insulated boxes can hold up to 18 sandwiches or a combination of Tater Tots and Chicken Tenders such as Buffalo Parmesan Tenders, Original Tenders or Mike’s Hot Honey Tenders. “You can mix and match,” Rubin says. “The box is fully insulated and keeps food warm for almost an hour. It actually has taken away the need for insulated bags.”
When it comes to maintaining the quality of the food, wings have a certain advantage. “The nice part of chicken wings is that they have a high internal temperature,” says Nick Bergelt, chief concept officer of Stoner's Pizza Joint, based in Charleston, S.C. “You can maintain that heat by virtue of the packaging you’re using.”
Stoner’s offers wing flavors such as Rajun Cajun, Red Dragon, Lemon Pepper and others, and includes a note on the packaging with instructions on how to reheat the wings if they aren’t eaten within 45 minutes. “We deliver in ready-to-eat format,” Bergelt says. “You’re getting an experience comparable to that in our stores.”
Delivery accounts for 50 percent of revenues at Stoner’s, so the chain has made a significant investment in technology which includes driver logistics, automated dispatch, updated road conditions and other features. The goal is to encourage customers to use the restaurant’s system instead of a third-party delivery system. The restaurant loses some control when a third party handles delivery. “If something falls short, the customers really don’t understand the nuances,” Bergelt says. “They ultimately chalk it up to the brand, and they think that we let them down.”
According to online food-ordering solution Olo, consumers tend to order more online than they do at the physical location of the restaurant. “An app or website never forgets to offer an upsell, as a cashier might in a busy in-store environment,” says Noah Glass, CEO of the New York-based Olo. “Offering beverages or desserts adds the opportunity for incremental sales. When people order digitally, they also don’t feel rushed by a cashier or the pressure of people standing in line behind them in a physical restaurant setting.”
It also helps to add a separate prep area for the delivery orders and establish an area that makes it easy for delivery couriers to pick up the food. “The ability to get a delicious, customized order while saving precious time on pickup or having the food delivered in an expedited manner is an equalizer for all restaurant brands,” Glass says.
The Frank's RedHot® King of Wings program offers several tips on how to induce customers to order more wings. For example:
- Cater to large groups by offering small, medium, large and extra-large party packs or buckets.
- Add extra sauce on the side. Include Frank’s RedHot® packets to add extra heat at home.
- Include other items in a to-go kit such as wet naps, napkins, plastic ware and a coupon for a future order.
For more information, visit www.frankskingofwings.com.
Whether it’s a high-tech solution or a phone-in order for wings, delivery can play an important role in generating revenues and convincing consumers where to purchase their food. Operators who figure out how to deliver wings and other hot foods will be able to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands.