5 September 2019 • HNTB
Greater market freedom for restaurants offering home delivery
Customer relationship management, cost reduction, and legislation are terms that crop up frequently in the Finance & Control degree programme (Faculty of Business, Finance & Management). These terms became more tangible for Pieter Kral and three other third-year students during a project they carried out for a restaurant belonging to Peter’s brother Antoine that offers home delivery. The project led them to make frequent trips to a shopping street in Zoetermeer and visit the seat of government in The Hague.
The growing dominance of Thuisbezorgd.nl is becoming a cause of concern, particularly for owners of small restaurants and catering establishments. Naturally, they partner up with this home delivery service. However, the alternatives are few and far between as Thuisbezorgd.nl has bought out most of its competitors. This is also a problem faced by Antoine Kral. Thanks to the efforts of his brother and three other third-year Finance & Control Students, Li Zheu Guo, Zakaria Zirar and Joost Zomerdijk, he now has plans that are ready for implementation which will help him to reduce the costs for his restaurant Thai Fresh Express, that offers a home delivery service. These costs further reduce margins on oriental meals that are already low.
Antoine: “Thuisbezorgd.nl has been steadily increasing the commission for its home delivery service at an annual rate of 1 percent. We currently pay 13 percent of each order to Thuisbezorgd.nl. Although the company is not doing anything illegal, that is an extremely high percentage. For this reason, I’m particularly interested in finding a more favourably priced alternative. I was extremely pleased when my brother Pieter was given permission to dedicate his second-year consultancy project to this problem, together with his three fellow students.”
They researched how customers could be motivated to order their Thai meals from the restaurant via the website or another application. They split up the problem into three questions. What steps can Thai Fresh Express undertake to acquire customers through its own channels? Can the business owners take joint action with the help of The Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association (KHN)? What measures are conceivable at a national level?
Pieter Kral: “We looked at the contacts that Thuisbezorgd.nl enters into with home-delivery restaurants. What have they committed themselves to? Can they easily leave a contract if there is an alternative? In the part of our study that looked at the level of the commission, we got into contact with The Royal Dutch Hotel and Catering Association. Since the problem is occurring throughout the Netherlands, we were pleased that we were able to have a meeting in the parliament building with a politician from the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Martin Wörsdörfer, who is one of the people that has put the dominance of Thuisbezorgd.nl onto the political agenda. It was a fruitful meeting and we exchanged ideas.”
Antoine Kral also found it a very educational project. “Thuisbezorgd.nl spends a lot of money on marketing. They spend much more than we as small businesses are able to afford. The four students carried out a customer survey. Their work enabled me to get a clearer picture of what customers expect from me and what a good alternative to Thuisbezorgd.nl should look like. This will mean that the free market will gain a bit more freedom.”
“That alternative has become a sort of three-stage rocket”, said Pieter. “It’s vital to have good communication with customers. That’s why we are creating a flyer campaign which we will use to directly encourage people to order from the Thai Fresh Express website. It’s going to be great when we are also able to do this using a fast app. We are also linking a discount promotion to the flyer campaign for a certain period. Hopefully, this will bring in customers. If the discount is lower than 13 per cent, then the restaurant will make more profit. Over the longer term, we want to link a points-based system to direct orders made via the website or the app.”
The proposals were well thought out. We’ve also talked to producers of POS software to see whether the proposals can actually be put into practice. Antoine: “I’m extremely happy with the action plan that we now have. It’s possible to reproduce this for every small restaurant owner.” The four students get a good feeling when they reflect on this project. They showed that their studies at the university of applied sciences are also relevant for small business owners such as Antoine.
Using specialist knowledge
“I thought it was great that we were able to use what we have learnt. At university, we often look at marketing and customer retention. We were able to benefit from that knowledge in this project. I’m looking forward to the internship in the third year. Then we will be able to use this knowledge even more extensively.”