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As Deliveroo continues to expand, how can PR help to deliver success?

Posted on Wed 24th May, 2017 in: Casual Dining Market, Deliveroo, Industry Comment, Influence, Public Relations by Emma Lister

Last week I attended a talk by the UK General Manager of Deliveroo, Caroline Hazlehurst, at Buy Yorkshire.

As Deliveroo isn’t currently available where I live in Elland, a small town near Huddersfield, I had very little knowledge of the service and how it works, so I was intrigued to know more.

I was impressed to hear how quickly the company had grown, given it was set up in 2013 and is now available in over 100 cities and towns in the UK alone, and active in 12 countries across the world.

And Caroline told us the business has plans to take its innovative service to the next level by rolling-out RooBox, a state-of-the-art remote kitchen initiative which will give restaurants access to delivery-only kitchens in locations where demand is particularly high, accelerating expansion.

The idea is that RooBox will offer a much more efficient production line-type service, speeding up food preparation without compromising quality, whilst creating a central base for drivers to collect food from.

Also, by taking the onus away from the restaurant sites their workers can focus solely on serving customers dining in that space, improving the whole process.

Before the talk, I hadn’t realised the potential of Deliveroo, not just as a service, but its ability to change our eating habits.

Caroline said that the company aims to not just be considered a ‘once-every-now-and-then’ meal option, but an everyday amenity: something we will eventually be ordering three times a day, seven days a week.

I myself am guilty of enjoying a takeaway once a week, as part of my Friday or Saturday night binge. But I can’t even begin to imagine ordering a takeaway three times a day, seven days a week.

I suppose what she’s saying is that it won’t be thought of as a takeaway anymore. It will be a way of getting access to quick, fresh food, of which we’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Caroline believes there is a huge chunk of the grocery market that Deliveroo can take as part of this change in behaviour.

Takeaways were typically seen as an unhealthy option, with pizzas, curries and Chinese the most readily available cuisines.

However, Deliveroo works with a multitude of eateries and cafes, such as Nandos and Wagamama, so there are a range of options – beyond typical unhealthy fast food meals.

For Deliveroo, it’s all about offering the ‘best experience’. And this is a message which Caroline says runs throughout the business, from the service it offers diners, to the way it works with its ‘riders’.

Yet, in the media, Deliveroo is continually coming under fire over how it treats its 15,000 self-employed riders, “unlawfully depriving them of employment rights” such as guaranteed pay levels.

Like Uber, Deliveroo has found itself operating in a so-called ‘gig economy’ and, as such, is often used as an example of employment disputes and bad practice.

Caroline insisted that the company is now working with the government to ensure it is giving the riders the rights they need and deserve, but the impact of this is yet to be seen in the press.

It’s important for the organisation to use PR to combat these negative internal and external perceptions, as well as promote all the positive developments taking place as part of the company’s expansion.  

It can do this through sharing case studies of members of its workforce and their experience of working with Deliveroo, as well as highlighting the benefits of working for the brand, such as flexibility.

Also, given the significant shift in consumer eating habits mentioned above, Deliveroo should be seen as a leader in the casual dining market and a driver of this change. It should be discussing the latest trends in food delivery, in terms of the most popular choices of restaurant and most favoured dishes.

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