Philadelphia delivery guys ready to compete with Grubhub and UberEats

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Richard Hernández bought Sabor Rico bakery in Franklinville (formerly A&Y) in December 2019, three months before the pandemic. He didn’t even get a chance to change the store’s sign until he found himself struggling to keep his small business open.

While running the store, the Puerto Rican business owner oversaw the quality of his pastries, pan sobao, and hearty Caribbean breakfasts of green plantains with pork, chicken and ham. He also took orders at customer gates across Philadelphia when restaurants could only offer pickup or delivery services.

Without access to PPP loans and three of his five employees on leave, Hernández, 44, said it all looked like an uphill battle. He found himself relying on delivery services from Grubhub. Due to the 30% Grubhub commission on each order, it increased its prices for some meals and offered more modest combination meals. He was not happy.

“Why should I change the Hispanic morning tradition of tasty breads and tasty breakfasts to keep this going?” ” He asked. “I sacrificed my personal finances and so much [family] the right time to keep my client satisfied.

In March, Hernández heard about Víctor Tejada and his company, Delivery Guys, a Philadelphia-based technology-based food delivery service start-up aimed at serving the needs of restaurants and small businesses.

Tejada, 35, founded Delivery Guys based on his own experience. The graphics and software designer had delivered food for most of the pandemic, after leaving Comcast to launch its first startup, which failed last year.

While delivering meals with Grubhub for large franchises and small restaurants, he learned that the logistics and scheduling systems of giant delivery service companies were not responsive to realities – such as locations at one. employee and limited access to capital – small business owners. , especially those led by marginalized entrepreneurs.

“A lot of customers and business owners needed to contact or speak with drivers about changes in orders, delays or complaints, and it was very difficult to deal with in real time,” Tejada said. . “And our business owners were always worried about service, being expensive and late for their customers.”

So he brainstormed his idea with local restaurateurs to focus the food delivery service business on their needs. Then he integrated the Delivery Guys app, a system he developed and programmed for iOS and Android smartphones.

The company now has around 50 drivers working with eight food preparers and convenience stores owned by Dominican, Puerto Rican, American, Nigerian and Vietnamese entrepreneurs in West, North and Northeast Philly. More than 50% of drivers are women who work mostly part-time.

In addition to the white and orange mobile app, the company created five months ago offers options tailored to the needs of customers who want food delivered to their homes or places of work, such as bodegas. , beauty salons, mechanical workshops and others. the Philadelphia area. These include:

  • A bilingual customer service call center located in Tejada’s native Dominican Republic, where customers who need technology and language assistance can order meals without using the app. Business owners can get help reminding customers to adjust their orders or reaching an assigned driver, if needed.

  • An in-person payment option for customers who prefer to pay in cash or who do not have access to bank accounts or an electronic payment system.

  • A 15% commission to business owners and a $ 2.99 service charge to customers per order, a competitive rate compared to DoorDash’s 30% commission to restaurateurs. (Customer charges for DoorDash vary based on time of day and mileage.)

But Tejada said the “secret sauce” for its food delivery service isn’t in technology. It is in the care that drivers provide to customers and business leaders.

“Making sure our drivers are part of the community and invest in learning from our business community is what makes this business relationship a great extended family,” Tejada said.

Food delivery is a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. According to Business of Apps, market revenues for these services have grown 204% over the past five years, reaching $ 26.5 billion in 2020. The website mentioned that the notable increase was fueled by platform-to-customer services, such as DoorDash and Uber. Eat. COVID-19 shelter-in-place measures have also contributed to the growth of the industry.

In 2020, 111 million users used food delivery apps in the United States, an increase of 68%, up from 66 million in the past five years. DoorDash had a 45% market share, with Uber Eats coming in second with 22%. According to Second measure, DoorDash and its subsidiaries gained 56% of the US market share last month. and led sales in Metro Philadelphia with 54% market share, followed by Grubhub with 30%.

Delivery people don’t make 1,000 deliveries a day, Tejada said, which means he doesn’t yet have a 1% market share. Keny Núñez, 43, worked with DoorDash. He said he went to Delivery Guys for payment of $ 8 per order and tips in cash.

For 32-year-old Katty Corporán, it’s the relationships she has built with business owners and company service representatives that make the difference.

“It feels like a collegiate group, with people willing to help you get to a place and business owners who take care of you like they’re your employers,” she said.

Tejada is launching a software update on Tuesday that will connect the Delivery Guys app to food delivery services and businesses in cities across the country, including Indianapolis, Orlando, San Diego, St. Louis, Albany, NY and Salem, Ore.

The company is also hiring more drivers as it expands to Wilmington in the first week of August. Then, Tejada seeks to invest in collective kitchen spaces, to support the Latin Caribbean cooks and chefs in the region.

In the meantime, Hernández with Sabor Rico Bakery does not regret his decision.

“This connection and closeness we have with the drivers ensures that our food is delivered with respect and love. What else can we ask for? “


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