It’s not hard to see that ordering takeout food online can be expensive.
Between the price of the food, delivery fees, and many platforms’ high take rates, eating in goes from a nice treat to an economic backbreaker easily.
ChowNow is a service that looks to help small restaurants manage these take rates and bring back some of the ownership of these online ordering systems.
Let’s look over this company, how they work, and how they have managed to help out so many small businesses in the last decade.
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What Is ChowNow?
ChowNow is a service that works with independent restaurants to develop their ability to respond to their customer’s desire for convenience.
With the rapid adoption of delivery apps like GrubHub and Uber Eats, food delivery is a growing part of what consumers want from restaurants.
Having food from more than just the local pizzeria through these apps has become commonplace compared to just a few years ago.
Setting up these services can be expensive for small or independent restaurants.
There are fees associated with partnerships, order commissions, and so forth.
While large chains can afford overhead, the little guys can’t.
Over time, this would fade from relevance.
To combat that, ChowNow has a payment structure and branding that focuses on these local restaurants.
By providing a range of services that let these restaurants focus on their food, small eateries can create delicious dishes without paying out the nose for access to the digital order marketplace.
How Does ChowNow Work?
At its core, ChowNow is a food ordering service similar to Uber Eats and DoorDash.
Restaurants can choose to be listed on the marketplace, taking advantage of their pre-established websites or order pages in place of a dedicated ChowNow page.
From there, customers place orders through ChowNow by ordering from the restaurant’s website.
ChowNow doesn’t take any commissions or charge any fees for listing a restaurant on the website, allowing restaurants to keep more of the revenue from the food order.
Meanwhile, customers get to keep their food delivery conveniences in a familiar ecosystem.
However, to generate revenue, ChowNow does charge a monthly fee on platforms they help the restaurant get set up on that facilitate food orders.
Also, ChowNow has a range of services to help restaurants grow their business, such as food photoshoots, access to delivery drivers, and other food delivery partnerships.
Why Was ChowNow Started?
ChowNow had a single goal in mind when they got their operation started:
Help Small Restaurants
To bring small and independent restaurants into the digital era, they need quick access to easy online ordering services.
Without these services, they would lose out to the big names and brands on food delivery marketplaces.
However, setting up these partnerships is costly and challenging to manage.
Each platform has its own fee structure, meaning restaurants have to charge different prices on different platforms to keep the same margins.
ChowNow works with restaurants to automate a lot of this administrative work so that the managers can focus on delivering good food and service to their customers.
How Does ChowNow Make Money?
ChowNow doesn’t charge for its services as other food delivery apps do.
Rather than take a flat rate on top of the cost of the food order, ChowNow works a little differently.
At its core, ChowNow is a restaurant administrative assistant.
The business offers online ordering and marketing services so that small restaurants can grow their business and take advantage of the people around them that want to support the eatery.
One of the primary sources of income for ChowNow is their monthly online ordering system service.
Basically, restaurant owners pay a monthly fee to use an online ordering system designed by the ChowNow crew.
Additionally, ChowNow also has marketing pros that work with restaurants to promote them online.
They specialize in getting folks to click through a few pages to go from advertisement to ordering food in just a few minutes.
This service also comes with monthly fees to maintain the ad campaign.
For restaurants that don’t have much of an online presence to start, ChowNow can help set up websites and infrastructure for the restaurant.
Incentive programs like customer loyalty programs and sales can be built using ChowNow’s tools, giving the restaurant space to focus on making its food.
Even apps can be made for the restaurant, using their name for the app instead of ChowNow.
Each service from ChowNow that requires them to set something up comes with a setup fee.
Once this fee is paid, ChowNow then charges a monthly fee to keep the service going.
Part of the point of ChowNow is giving restaurants the ability to own their ordering systems.
So rather than relying on a different marketplace to push their restaurant, managers and owners can use ChowNow to create specific marketing and order plans for their restaurant to grow their revenue.
ChowNow doesn’t charge any fees on food orders to keep in line with that goal.
Instead, restaurants get to keep those fees, boosting revenue by saving on costs and generating extra business.
However, some of the platforms that ChowNow lists restaurants do charge fees to ChowNow, which they tend to automatically apply to the restaurant’s prices.
So, while ChowNow doesn’t charge a fee themselves, other platforms do.
Where Is ChowNow Available?
Part of what makes ChowNow different from many other food delivery apps is that ChowNow doesn’t have to worry bout delivering food to customers.
Instead, ChowNow provides an online ordering platform and marketing support so that new customers can discover local restaurants.
Areas of Operation
ChowNow doesn’t discriminate about where it helps out restaurants.
This fact means that ChowNow can work with any restaurant in the United States, regardless of whether or not they have delivery drivers in the area.
Compare this to platforms like Uber Eats or DoorDash that rely on drivers to bring food from the restaurant to the individual’s home.
Since ChowNow doesn’t offer that service, it’s up to the restaurant to cover delivery.
As mentioned, ChowNow works differently than other third-party delivery apps.
Here are some comparisons between ChowNow and some of the other big names out there in food delivery:
ChowNow vs. DoorDash
As one of the big third-party delivery apps, DoorDash is what ChowNow wants to compete against.
Because of the high take rates these delivery apps charge, ChowNow believes they have to come in and bring tools to small businesses to help keep them afloat.
Or, that’s what ChowNow might say about other apps, but not DoorDash.
ChowNow actually works with DoorDash to offer delivery services to local restaurants that wouldn’t have them otherwise.
This way, small eateries get to use DoorDash but without the overhead of managing a separate account on the DoorDash platform.
ChowNow vs. Uber Eats
Much like DoorDash, Uber Eats is another competitor to ChowNow when it comes to getting restaurants out there in the digital marketplace.
While Uber Eats doesn’t have a large take rate, it’s still enough to put pressure on small restaurants just trying to carve out a slice of the marketplace for themselves.
Unlike DoorDash, Uber Eats doesn’t have any partnerships with ChowNow.
So, areas that have access to Uber Eats and not DoorDash won’t be able to piggyback on their delivery drivers using ChowNow.
ChowNow vs. GrubHub
Yet another one of the big third-party marketplaces, GrubHub, is the main competitor to ChowNow’s promise to bring restaurants online.
Specifically, GrubHub is known for its high take rate among restaurants, leading to the high prices you tend to see on that platform.
Platforms like GrubHub are why ChowNow builds custom tools.
Also, like Uber Eats, GrubHub has no partnerships with ChowNow.
A restaurant owner would need to find another way to access GrubHub’s marketplace and delivery drivers, such as setting something up with them directly, rather than partnering with them through ChowNow.
ChowNow vs. Lunchbox
ChowNow and Lunchbox operate much more closely to one another than in the previous examples.
While the rest of the competition for ChowNow so far has been marketplaces, Lunchbox is another administrative and tech builder for restaurants, focusing on marketing and food ordering systems for restaurants.
The biggest difference between the two services is that ChowNow offers a marketplace of restaurants on top of their digital services.
This fact means that customers with the ChowNow app can order from restaurants on ChowNow, while Lunchbox only offers digital services.
How Much Does ChowNow Cost?
With all the perks ChowNow can offer a local restaurant, it’s clear there has to be a price.
ChowNow prides itself on not charging for food, meaning they have to make their money elsewhere.
Restaurants can expect to pay a monthly subscription fee for any services they use from ChowNow.
Whether they get listed on multiple platforms, use a marketing or online food ordering system, or use an ongoing partnership deal, these services come with a monthly fee.
The size of this fee depends on the size of the project the restaurant needs.
Having something built from scratch or requiring significant help with food ordering differs from just getting listed in a few extra places.
On top of subscription fees, restaurants that need one-time services will pay setup fees for those services.
In addition to designing apps and hosting food photoshoots, ChowNow helps restaurants set up customer loyalty programs.
If the restaurant has a way to maintain the campaign, then ChowNow just charges a setup fee to get the program launched.
Both restaurants and customers will appreciate that ChowNow doesn’t charge for food orders.
This means that ChowNow helps restaurants and customers save money on their day-to-day operations, unlike other platforms.
How To Use ChowNow
With their services and costs laid out, let’s look at what goes into launching your online presence with ChowNow.
Every restaurant will have a different set of needs from ChowNow.
While that makes each job different for the company, that also means there won’t be a set path you can expect to follow with their services.
Sure, ChowNow offers a wide range of services, but you might need many, or most, of them for your restaurant.
Instead, here’s what you should do to get the ball rolling with ChowNow:
- Go to ChowNow’s Sign Up page and enter your information, such as your name, email, and restaurant.
- Follow the rest of the instructions on the screen to determine things like what services have an interest in.
- Double-check all the info you entered before submitting it.
From there, you’ll be in touch with ChowNow about the next steps.
You can expect things like a consultation call and explanations of all the different services and what they can do to apply them to your restaurant.
Driving for ChowNow
ChowNow has a few partnerships that involve delivery and delivery drivers.
So for the folks out there that deliver food, here’s some info you might want to know about ChowNow:
Does ChowNow Employ Drivers?
ChowNow doesn’t directly employ drivers.
Instead, they rely on the restaurant’s ability to hire drivers and a couple of partnerships to deliver food to customers.
ChowNow is an infrastructure and marketing company first and has not shown any signs of looking to get into the delivery business yet.
Restaurant Delivery Drivers
ChowNow partly relies on the local restaurant’s delivery drivers to bring food to the customers who order on their app.
Without these drivers, the customers would need to pick up the food themselves.
Not all types of restaurants want to hire their own delivery drivers, though.
So, if you want to drive for ChowNow, this isn’t a reliable way to do so.
Delivery App Partners
The other part of how ChowNow delivers food is through partnerships.
Specifically, they partner with DoorDash to use their drivers for restaurants listed on DoorDash through ChowNow.
With this, DoorDash drivers will deliver orders through ChowNow using the DoorDash ecosystem.
ChowNow is a digital service provider for restaurant online presence and marketing.
The company works with restaurants, specifically small, local ones, to build up their online presence and give them a chance to compete against big third-party food platforms by owning their delivery and online ordering systems.
If you own a restaurant and need some help getting the business online, checking out ChowNow’s service pages will give you another view of what they offer.
With a little bit of work, a local restaurant could use ChowNow to launch themselves to new, recurring customers.