Delivery: Do or Don’t? Behind the wheel at Pizza Shuttle

Over 33-plus years,Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee has racked up its share of “Best of Milwaukee” awards and other honors. A favorite among college students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, this independent pizzeria offers online ordering and a smartphone app with various large-pizza deals to feed a crowd of youngsters and delivers well into the wee morning hours (10 a.m. to 3 a.m., Sundays through Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).

But owner Mark Gold, who founded Pizza Shuttle in 1984 with best friend Louis Siecinski, believes that delivery has seen the industry’s biggest disruption since the POS system. “Third-party providers are changing the whole industry,” he says. “Now people can open a kitchen in a warehouse with no phone, taking only online orders through third parties, or open up ‘ghost stores’ with five ‘restaurants’ in one kitchen, just for delivering—no seating, bathrooms or high rent. Instead of 15 competitors, I now have 500.”

But delivery has upsides: Gold finds that these customers spend 5% to 15% more on their order vs. dine-ins, and millennials are willing to pay up to $5 for the service itself. With 30 to 40 drivers (an average of seven years on staff), delivery is big business for this single-location pizzeria, making up 60% to 70% of orders.

“You can’t do high-volume delivery without a POS system. And if you don’t have a POS, I’m sure you’re getting ripped off somewhere.”
— Mark Gold, Pizza Shuttl

And Gold’s POS system ensures that delivery is streamlined and simplified, from order taking to doorstep. “You can’t do high-volume delivery without a POS system,” Gold says. “And if you don’t have a POS, I’m sure you’re getting ripped off somewhere.”

But he warns fellow operators that getting into delivery is like opening a “business within a business.” Adding a delivery option creates the need for packaging and hot bags, proper insurance, driver hiring and training—and money to pay for it all, particularly as minimum wages rise in some cities and states. And, with deliveries, so much more can go wrong—incorrect orders, traffic, hard-to-find addresses—while food quality suffers through transit time.

“Delivery is hard to handle,” Gold says. “The question is, what kind of Pandora’s Box do you want to open? Look at what it would add to your business and what it would require to run—or start by offering delivery through a third-party provider to see what kind of sales you get. Delivery is feasible, but to do it right takes a lot of time and effort!”

Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.