When a restaurant operator has thousands of locations across all 50 states, a national delivery contract makes a lot of sense to get the best deal from third-party delivery networks. Which is why Kahala, the parent company of everything from Blimpie, Baja Express, BUILT Custom Burgers to Cereality, Pinkberry and Cold Stone Creamery (among others) is working through the major delivery chains.
But it all started organically, as franchisees across the many brands under the Kahala umbrella started signing their own delivery contracts.
“We’d have franchisees reaching out and asking for guidance, saying, ‘Hey, I’m signing up.’ So we saw the demand there,” said Steve Evans, senior vice president of marketing at the company. “So over the last year we’ve been working on the space heavily and providing resources.”
Its fresh agreement with DoorDash is the first of many deals, but one the company picked first because the franchisees and franchise associations across the brands said it was one of the best.
“There were specific reasons we went with them first, they are top tier from what we’ve seen of them. We have franchisees that are active on multiple outlets, as far as support and customer satisfaction they’re unmatched in the space,” said Evans. He added that 50-state delivery coverage was also important for the varied markets of the company’s brands.
He said a national deal was very important for him and the marketing folks to keep brand standards, well, standard across the country.
“It was about formalizing the relationship; which allowed us to improve our brand standards. Early on, without that formalized relationship, there were just local reps signing up franchisees and asking if we wanted to have photos of our products,” said Evans, and they weren’t the great, costly photos marketing already had. “This allowed us to standardize the menu, make sure the standards and imagery were what we would expect. It’s really been a nice way to bring in a little more structure.”
He said the operations team also helped create delivery best practices, find better packaging for delivered orders and enhance security on orders sent outside of the restaurant. He said as delivery becomes commonplace across the company, they’ll continue looking for the best packaging and operational tweaks from in and out of the company.
As for the big what about ice cream question?
“For ice cream, when this space came up, I remember thinking I never thought our ice cream would be viable for this space. It melts, it’s just common sense. But surprisingly, DoorDash–another reason we like working with them–they only travel 10 miles and they have thermal bags that keeps hot food hot and cold food cold,” Evans said.
At Cold Stone, known for its fresh made-to-order ice cream with all sorts of mix-ins, a pretty simple step has made a huge difference. Instead of making it to order for the driver and letting it melt slightly in the mixing process, they make it immediately when the order hits and put the order in a freezer.
“It’s kept frozen until the driver walks in the door. So it’s traveling quite well and we’re not seeing any real execution problems,” added Evans.
But maybe the biggest win in the queue of national delivery deals is a smart item the company secured in negotiations: Any national contract with a provider supersedes prior local deals, unlocking better rates and other perks without waiting for local contract to expire.
Kahala is expected to announce other national deals, with Postmates being the next partner.