Recommendation for policy on having food delivered to meetings and events

Until yesterday, I’ve not only been a preacher (officially pulpit supply) and volunteer coordinator at a small church, but also a pizza delivery driver for one of the big 3 delivery chains.  As a delivery worker, I’ve been able to observe how businesses and churches behave, how the store operates, and how long those who work in the industry remember the behavior of customers.  If you are a church, or have a business that serves customers (especially car sales — drivers are always in the market for another car for obvious reasons), it is best to behave in a way that does not wreck your reputation.  As somebody involved in Church ministry I will offer my advice to churches, but please modify it for your group.

  1. Make sure you have your tax exempt number and information ready.
  2. Order, in advance, between 2:00 and 4:00 PM.  (In person, if convenient.)
  3. Ask for a discount
  4. Tip generously — when you tip a driver at 1/2%, the whole store will know about it.
  5. Make sure somebody is ready to meet and pay the delivery driver.
  6. Be polite

The first two rules should be fairly obvious.  Customers with large orders, especially those who are tax exempt, often require a little more time than somebody who is just ordering for dinner at home.  A large order can dominate the kitchen, noticeably delaying delivery times for other customers.  Advance orders allow the kitchen to better plan and better meet the needs of their customers (including you.)  2:00 to 4:00 PM are somewhat dead periods of time, when the staff will have time to handle the order.

Rule 3 is somewhat less obvious until you realize that if you don’t ask for a discount, you will not get it.  Most chains have discounts for businesses and non-profits.  Remembering to ask for this discount will save a significant amount.

To explain rules #4 and #5, first, you have to realize that delivery drivers are tipped workers, and thus, their minimum wage is that of a tipped worker.  In my case, my base pay, as a driver, was $4.25 an hour.  I also was compensated for mileage, but with a maximum amount that assumed that the average delivery was about 3/4 miles away.  Some of my deliveries were 5 1/2 miles away, and the average was a little under 3 miles away.  I recorded my mileage, and found that after subtracting the uncompensated expenses (using standard IRS mileage), my base pay averaged to slightly less than tips only.  It does not matter that there is a delivery charge, delivery drivers are still expected to absorb part of the company’s operating expenses, to the point of being essentially unpaid by their employer.

When figuring the tip — tipping at 15% of the amount *before* the discount is a good place to start.  The driver should not be punished, because you remembered to ask for the discount.  It would also be generous to consider adding mileage from the store and back to that 15%, but, no matter what, remember if you do not tip the driver worked without pay; nobody likes to work without pay. It is also important for the driver to finish his delivery quickly. Driver productivity is measured in number of deliveries, and the pay is effectively only tips.  Drivers literally cannot afford to wait.


These are just my recommendations, based on my experience as a driver.  If your non-profit, or business follows these, it will be good for your reputation; but, quite honestly, following any policy that respects the facts that driver pay is primarily tips, and that their time is valuable will create a lot of good will.  If you remember to ask for the discount, such a policy costs nothing.

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2 comments on “Recommendation for policy on having food delivered to meetings and events

  1. storydivamg says:

    Thanks for sharing this information. It drives me crazy that people think the drivers are paid with the delivery fee. I wish places that do a lot of delivery business would consider covering those expenses in another way because the fees are generally misunderstood by customers. I also wish that American pizzerias and restaurants in general would do away with tipping–much like they have done in Europe. You pay higher prices for good service–and you get good service. Then when a tip does come along, it is an actual reward for good work instead of pay for the work you have to do whether or not pay is involved.

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