How does Just Eat work for Restaurants?

In my last post, I talked about how the Deliveroo ordering process works from the point of view of a restaurant. In this post, I will walk through the newest entrant in the delivery space – Just Eat – and contrast how the process works. This is from the view of a restaurant outside of a busy urban area (like London), so your mileage will vary in more densely-populated areas.

Just Eat Onboarding

Just Eat take care of the whole process for you and send you what is basically a hefty piece of hardware about the size of a stack of dinner plates (or an EPOS system with cash drawer). There is no onboarding cost (unlike Deliveroo). The hardware is an integrated unit with a large touchscreen and built-in printer, and the screen is angled to be operated at counter-top level so you’ll need space you normally use for prep or plating in the kitchen. It’s a very nice piece of equipment.

Our experience with the onboarding was not a smooth one as Just Eat kept making errors with the menu. On one occasion we were offline for two whole weeks while they sorted out the issues. Support was not great because you bounced between the telephone support and the online ticket system. For example, the tablet asked you to call the help centre to get back online, and when you did they said they could do nothing so you must raise a ticket. Also, responses were slow and there was no threading of replies to the original request so tracking what was being talked about was tricky when you have a few issues ongoing.

For one of my restaurants (Sel et Sucre – a French creperie and bistro in Windsor), Just Eat decided to split the menu into two separate venues and claim that it is impossible to merge them. This has been ongoing for over a month so we are offline. It has been escalated, but at the time of writing there is still no clear reason why we can’t just have one menu with multiple sections like other restaurants.

I’m sure Just Eat don’t make these errors consistently with all their restaurant partners, but it’s not been smooth from here.

By contrast, Deliveroo has nailed this process and support requests are usually answered within 24 hours (though some might take longer), are threaded so you know what’s being talked about, and they get things done. Rarely do you need to escalate issues.

Just Eat Ordering Process

Here’s what should happen:

  • An order comes to the tablet which you have to confirm
  • You can cancel the order if you want to (you can’t do this with Deliveroo)
  • The system says “Do not make it until we allocate a driver”
  • [You Wait]
  • A driver is allocated
  • You make the food
  • You click “Food Ready”
  • The driver comes in, picks up the food and delivers it to the customer

Unlike Deliveroo, there is no time on the order so you have no idea how long you are going to have to wait for a driver (in 95% of cases). So the process really is this:

  • An order comes to the tablet which you have to confirm
  • It says “Do not make it until we allocate a driver”
  • You wait
  • And wait
  • And wait
  • Customer calls to complain
  • Order is Cancelled (but Just Eat then states you rejected it)
  • Just Eat expect you to compensate the customer because the food was late!

The longest we had to wait was 3 hours (the customer actually came in and picked it up himself and we sent the driver away when he finally arrived). Another occasion was a wait of over 90 minutes. And that’s not counting the ones where a driver is never assigned. Some orders were picked up promptly, so it’s not all bad, but in Weybridge, the majority are late or cancelled leading to very unhappy customers and a bad reputation for the restaurant.

The biggest challenge is that when a driver is finally assigned, you have about 15 minutes to make the order. Just Eat still seems to work on what I call the “pizza and burger model” where 15 minutes is OK. For a fine dining restaurant (which they are trying to woo) you might need 40 minutes to make a meal for four. Needless to say, the self-employed driver is unhappy as s/he is losing money as they only get paid per delivery and they now have to wait for the food to be made.

Just Eat do give the restaurant the option of delivering the food themselves, and you pay a lower commission for this. However, it’s an all-or-nothing option – the restaurant either delivers all orders, or Just Eat delivers all orders. The customer can also opt to collect in person in either delivery model. If you can deliver yourself, it works very well and you can notify the customer when the order leaves your restaurant with the click of a button.

Commission & Payments

As with all delivery companies, you have to pay a ‘healthy’ commission to be featured on their app and website. As Just Eat don’t charge an onboarding fee, this is more palatable for an independent restaurant.

Just Eat also charge a small delivery fee to the customer as well as a service charge, which makes things a little more expensive for the customer than ordering through Deliveroo. Also, Just Eat allows the restaurant to charge what they want for the food. By contrast, Deliveroo requires you to charge exactly what you charge in-house (or lower), which means a restaurant can absorb some of the commission with Just Eat in their prices, though this runs the risk of making you less competitive.

Reporting

Just Eat have the most primitive reporting system. Online, you can view an order summary for either 1 day, 1 week or 1 month from a start date you choose. Just Eat then shows you a table on screen with a summary of the order totals. You can click each order to see the details. However, there is no download option so you have to cut-and-paste what’s on screen and reformat into Excel. Also, you only see 15 orders at a time and have to page through multiple screens to see everything. It’s more time consuming if you plan to do any post-analysis.

Also, Just Eat do not account for VAT (only uberEATS does that) so you will have to work this out yourself by either re-keying the orders in your EPOS or finding a way to list the items sold and post-processing them in batch.

Questions to Ask

When onboarding with any delivery company there are a few key questions to ask:

  • How much commission do you charge?
  • Does this change if we work with other delivery partners?
  • How far do you deliver?
  • How reliable is your fleet in my area?
  • Is there an onboarding fee?
  • How long do support requests take to answer?
  • Do I have an account manager?
  • How do I escalate issues?
  • What can I control from the ordering tablet? (This is usually menu items and whether you are open or not, but do check)
  • Do I have a control panel where I can manage my menu and restaurant?
  • How much control does this control panel give me?

The last two questions are relevant because all of the Big 3 offer an admin system for you to manage your restaurant. This goes to different levels depending on the partner and ranges from an order summary for accounting and statistical purposes (e.g. Deliveroo and UberEATS) through to more detailed options with Just Eat.


I hope you found this little guide (with lots of personal side-notes) useful? Let me know in the comments and feel free to ask for more pieces you’d like to read. Thanks for reading!

Chris emailed me a few questions about this article and I have posted a follow-up here: Q&A Chewsday: Just Eat vs Bespoke Delivery Systems.

13 Comments

  1. Geoff Basden-Smith 25 September 2020 at 08:32

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing. Very clearly articulates the key criteria to be assessed when choosing a delivery service and how you are delegating a significant responsibility for a key element of your brand building to a 3rd party.

    Reply
  2. Kyle Gordon 28 September 2020 at 10:56

    I’ve heard the payment terms from Just-Eat are 90 days. So the customer makes a purchase and then it’s nigh on 3 months before the restaurant gets the cash.

    Is this true?

    Reply
    1. Edward 28 September 2020 at 13:01

      Hi Kyle,
      In the UK payments are made weekly and we have seen regular payouts, so no issues here.
      Hope that helps?

      Reply
  3. Adam Smythe 19 December 2020 at 07:52

    My 86 year old mother was hoping to share a meal with me having just had a very stressful morning receiving the vaccine. This was sadly not be as Just Eat were unable to provide a driver despite reassurances. I ordered at 12.45pm and had to cancel at 3.15pm when it was clear there were no drivers. Apparently, and I quote, Just Eat are ‘not involved in the process or delivery of your meal and are therefore not obligated to compensate or refund’. They seem only to be legally involved in collecting money. The large restaurant chain involved were very polite and told me they had had a day of similar problems. I would strongly advise restaurant owners to avoid this company. They don’t have the driver network and the process relies heavily on automation. The customer service is so much worse than other delivery companies. It will reflect badly on your business.

    Reply
    1. Edward 22 December 2020 at 18:27

      Thanks, Adam, and sorry to hear about to Just Eat’s excuses. It’s true they do outsource the delivery part to a courier company (I experienced the same pains in my restaurant) but I don’t accept their excuse of ‘not being involved in the delivery of your meal.’ They take money from you for this service (a delivery fee) plus charge a higher commission to the restaurant to fulfil this service (via their couriers). They even advertise for delivery drivers on their website.

      It is possible the restaurant has opted out of their delivery service, choosing to fulfil the order themselves, but your contract is with Just Eat. Deliveroo will refund your money straight away if there is a problem as they recognise their contractual obligations, and it’s then between the restaurant and Deliveroo to agree on the accuracy of this refund.

      If you get no joy with Just Eat, contact your credit or debit card company as you should have consumer protection and they should be able to refund the money.

      Reply
  4. dave miles 17 February 2021 at 17:25

    Hi Edward,

    I wanted to know if you don’t like th arrangement, and pulled out, after month or 2, what is the cost to you as a restaurant, i imagine cash hungry Justeat will want to charge for having their equipment hooked up to their mainframe?

    Reply
    1. Edward 17 February 2021 at 18:05

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for the comment. We didn’t pull out but downgraded to the self-delivery option. That way we have control over meal production and delivery. We also selectively use Just Eat as the delivery zones are based on high-level postcodes which means your deliveries can be in an elongated area making some distant deliveries impractical at peak times.

      I don’t recall there being a minimum term for the contract, but it has been a long time now, and Just Eat would simply recover the hardware. You only pay commission on orders you receive and there’s no “standing charge.” If you’re offline for a prolonged period they will contact you to find out why and suggest returning the equipment.

      I would suggest asking that question directly to Just Eat if you are considering signing up.

      Reply
  5. Mark Dowle 12 March 2021 at 15:10

    Hi Edward, thanks for an informative article. I own a Thai restaurant in Oxfordshire and have been recommended by many friends to go with one of the ‘Big Three’ however I politely decline as , with just a little research its easy to see the fees coupled with lack of control can easily cause massive reputational and financial impact to smaller restaurants. I recommend any restauranteur reading this to just ensure you have a good online photo menu and a dedicated phoneline to take orders… Don’t even go with online ordering as you risk being overwhelmed at busier periods with multiple points of contact and a lack of control. With a phoneline its simple; If we’re engaged we’re busy, phone back, press redial. The orders are the sequential and controlled , if , at the same time, people are phoning , emailing and submitting online orders it would be a disaster… Keep It Simple is my advice.. Plough your money into Google Ads (£50-250 per month) , Facebook Ads and frequent updates to your customerbase and Signage in the Window… good luck all !

    Reply
    1. Edward 12 March 2021 at 16:43

      Your welcome Mark,
      Thanks for the proposals about online marketing also. All excellent ideas for restaurateurs to take into account.
      You’re right about the pressure it can create at peak times, but you can switch them off. It ultimately depends on each restaurant (location and team) and how well they are organised, so there’s no one-size-fits-all. Plus, the quality of service from the delivery partners varies by region – you’re absolutely right to protect your reputation.
      Here’s to the re-openings after lockdown and I hope we stay open this time!

      Reply
  6. Noel 22 March 2021 at 11:01

    As a consumer it was very interesting to stumble on this article and hear how it works for the other side of the delivery firms – the restaurants. I’m slow to take up new things so only did my first ever order yesterday with one – Uber Eats.

    I had a welcome offer of £10 off first order so thought even with fees I’d save over going to local Kebab shop myself.

    First to avail the offer I had to spend £15 or more. I’m single so that changed what I was gonna have. Next shock was prices so I compared to shops own in-house menu I found online and yep mark ups on all. I thought this was Uber Eats but reading your informative article above this sounds now like it was the restaurant itself getting back some of the third party costs but it made things so expensive as mark up I would say was 30%-35% on things.

    Then at check out there’s more fees 10% of order as a service charge plus a delivery fee. Then it encourages you to tip your driver and I felt bad not doing so but everything was so expensive already compared to going myself.

    Worse and this was resturants fault – they did not read any of the notes and did not withhold things asked to (I do not like) nor apply things I asked for like salt and vinegar, red sauce etc.

    Also the food was not fresh the chips were brown like they had been reheated, I think had been on a hot plate far to long, fried hard and rather browned. Yuk. Also the rest of the food was horrid not like when I’ve gone in person and ya order is cooked fresh.

    So I called store and was basicly told note was read wrong and manager / owner not in today so should call back tomorrow if I want to speak to him but if I brought food back myself could change it. I’m not going back to store myself whole point of ordering in defeated. I complained in the app and Uber Eats has said it will refund me £11 – I guess that’s better than nothing and I did eat what I could as was starving but order with all fees was £17 & change.

    Will not be using again unless have a promo code to get money off as was not a good experience and certainly won’t order from my local kebab shop again. I look forward as a customer to trying the other two of the big three you mention – Just Eat and deliveroo. I think yes like pizza stores have for years that hire there own drivers direct it’s better all round for buisnesses and customers – cut out the middle external delivery firms.

    Reply
    1. Edward 23 March 2021 at 00:07

      Thanks for the post, Noel.

      That’s the reality, unfortunately. UberEATS struggle in some areas with drivers (like many of the providers), but this is part of the problem with gig-based work in this industry (see my post “Delivery Fail: The Problem with a Gig Economy” for more on this). All of the delivery providers charge a large commission to the restaurant which eats into the slim margins they already make.

      I can imagine a kebab shop needing to sell a lot of kebabs to just break even, so they have chosen to add fees on top to cover this. I can understand the reason behind it, but it has to be fair for everybody and I don’t agree with adding the whole fee (or more) on top. I know a lot of pizza takeaways double the price of the pizza for delivery. A local one to me charges around £10-13 for a regular pizza, but it’s £6 if you collect yourself. With this pricing, they can absorb the delivery costs in their “delivery” price.

      With their own drivers, either employed or contracted, they have more control but still need to achieve a certain volume to pay their ‘fleet’. I did some rough numbers a couple of years ago and it was break-even for a restaurant to hire one driver part-time when the restaurant made around £1,500 from deliveries through a third-party. i.e. it would cost the restaurant around the same using the third-party as having one driver in-house. And you’re absolutely right, in-house drivers give you more control and better customer service, and therefore a better reputation.

      We had one UBER driver leave the customer’s food in their garden (according to the customer) but the food took 80 minutes to deliver and was stone cold. Their house was 10 minutes away on foot and they usually order direct but, like you, had a coupon. UBER compensated them £4 despite their complaints that UBER failed to fulfil their part of the contract (to deliver the food in a timely manner) and my restaurant complaining and sending screenshots showing the pick-up and delivery times.

      I have also heard drivers say they will prioritise customers who tip, though this isn’t always the case. But this doesn’t excuse the restaurant sending out sub-standard food – especially at a premium.

      Reply
  7. Hyper NerdGirl 26 July 2021 at 11:05

    Thanks for this explainer. As a customer, I wanted to know what happens from the restaurant end. I often have no problems ordering from the big franchises yet; there is often a huge delay with independent places, even when Just Eat has offered a 45 – 60 minute ETA which seems like plenty of time from a customer pov. Still, as someone who loves to cook and has dealt in logistics, I figured that my late orders might be due to the Just Eat system rather than a small business that provides excellent food, just often much later than I ordered it for.

    After reading this, I think when it comes to ordering from those smaller restaurants, I will call them directly, especially as I know the ones I use, use their own drivers. I hope this will enable the restaurant to give me a more accurate idea of delivery time and give us both a better experience.

    Reply
    1. Edward 28 July 2021 at 13:40

      Thanks, NerdGirl,

      You’re right. Independent’s can often have large delays at peak time. There are several factors:

      1. The delivery company’s system is slow or stops – it has happened and orders can be delayed
      2. The delivery company fails to send driver’s when the food is ready
      3. The delivery company automatically allows longer lead times during peak periods – this helps them manage their fleets also
      4. The restaurant sets a longer lead time during busy periods – they only have so much capacity to produce meals for in-house diners as well as take-away, especially if they are using multiple channels

      I remember the first day back after the first lockdown in 2020. The online order system literally exploded with demand as people were so happy the restaurant was open. We were running lead times over 2 hours. And we could only do take away at that time. Demand was at never-before-seen levels and, of course, everybody wanted their food around the same time.

      If you can order direct with an independent, it’s better as they get to keep more of the money. However, you can always follow up a call after ordering through just Eat (et al) so you know which option is causing the delay.

      Larger operators are more streamlined and design their kitchens as production lines and plan capacity. So, when they add a delivery option, the operations have been planned to accommodate it with as little impact as possible. Smaller operators tend to add the option to increase revenue as an “opportunity” but don’t do the planning, leading to poor customer experiences.

      Reply

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