velopment, says Uber Eats averages 31 minutes.
Jimmy John’s average is less than 20 minutes, partly because it limits delivery to a small radius. The company trains its drivers and gives them uniforms, North said. Pay varies by location. Jimmy John’s charges customers around $2 for deliveries — some third parties charge $8 or more — and makes that work economically by doing more deliveries per hour.
“With Uber Eats, the drivers have no vested interest in getting the customer their food quickly,” North said.
Chicago college student Matthew Robbins has seen the issue from all sides. He frequently orders meals through Uber Eats. He also manages a Slim Chickens restaurant in Plainfield, Illinois, that started using Uber Eats five months ago.
Robbins said his restaurant gets around 10 orders a day through Uber Eats. He would like to see more consistency from the service. Some drivers seem professional, but others bring a carload of friends and clog up the drive-thru instead of picking up their orders inside the restaurant.
Robbins has also had occasional issues as a customer, like waiting so long for sushi that it arrived warm. But he’ll continue to use delivery services because it’s the most convenient way to eat between classes.
The phenomenal growth of third-party delivery indicates customers will put up with some hiccups for the convenience and variety they provide. On Thursday, Grubhub reported $5.1 billion in food sales in 2018, a 34 percent increase from the prior year, and said it has grown to 17.7 million diners. Uber Eats said it expects to deliver $10 billion worth of food in 36 countries this year, up from $6 billion in 2018.
Meyerdirk says poor service can get weeded out thanks to customer reviews on Uber Eats. And the company is constantly working to improve logistics and speed up delivery times.
“We’re all trying to figure out how to serve that customer,” she said.
Third-party delivery services can help restaurants by bringing in new customers. Grubhub has 100,000 restaurants in the U.S. and London on its platform, including ones that do their own delivery and just rely on the site for referrals. Uber Eats has 200,000 worldwide.
Farm Burger, an Atlanta-based grassfed burger chain with 12 locations, has limited marketing resources, so it’s grateful for the business that delivery services bring in. After DoorDash featured the chain in a December promotion, it saw an all-time monthly high of 2,942 orders, says Dawn Law, the chain’s marketing director.
Even McDonald’s says 70 percent of the orders it gets through its partnership with Uber Eats are customers it might not have gotten otherwise, particularly late at night.
Bolden of the Boston Consulting Group expects third-party delivery services will probably consolidate over the next few years, leaving two or three big players with the scale to be profitable.
At the same time, he said, many big restaurant brands will probably follow Jimmy John’s lead and do their own delivery so they can control the customer experience and retain valuable order data.
“They may use third parties today because they want the demand, but in the long run they don’t want to be dependent on them,” Bolden said.