A Quick Q&A With Alan Hickey – VROMO’s CEO

Jun 22, 2021

Our CEO Alan recently did an interview with a UK national newspaper talking about VROMO’s growth and ways that our software is being used by some of the biggest names in the restaurant and hospitality sector. Here’s some of the highlights of what he had to say.

Why did you launch VROMO?

VROMO enables restaurants to retain ownership of the customer relationship, have full control over their off premise channel and manage the whole delivery operation much more efficiently (and profitability) – we saw this could be hugely attractive to restaurants looking to expand their dining experience to delivery.

Whilst there are obvious benefits of marketplace apps, such as Deliveroo, the market is increasingly becoming stacked in their favour and many would say that this is to the detriment of many small, independent restaurants.

One of the key things that restaurants lose is the direct relationship with their core customer base, as marketplace apps take ownership of those customers. Those customers are incentivised to order from elsewhere with aggressive marketing tactics which can ultimately force restaurants to reduce prices or pay for priority placement on the marketplace apps just to keep the order volume from declining.

Whilst there are benefits to joining these marketplace platforms, the impact on a restaurant’s bottom line can be devastating, particularly as delivery has become such a big channel during Covid-19. For example, marketplace apps charge the restaurant around 15% of the food value just to receive the order – and a further 15% if they use the marketplace platform to deliver the food. So, restaurants, who only make about 30% margin on takeout food, are effectively passing all of their profit to the likes of Just Eat and Uber Eats.

How is VROMO different to say, Uber Eats?

VROMO software allows restaurants to manage their own fleet of drivers efficiently and lets them take back ownership of the customer experience.

Using VROMO means restaurants can use their own in-house fleet or an outsourced fleet (such as local taxi firms) and even use the Deliveroo fleet when they exceed capacity on busy nights. The software automates the entire process meaning less drivers are required to handle the delivery volume, routes are optimised and multiple orders can be handled by a single driver when traveling to the same postcode. Restaurants can still receive the orders from marketplace apps but they can manage a more profitable delivery operation in-house.

Because VROMO brings the delivery process in-house, it also enables restaurants to enhance the customer journey and brand experience. For example, not only will the app update customers of the delivery of their food, but they can also use it for customer retention and growth through loyalty programmes and targeted offers.  

Do you think people’ s support of local food and drink businesses and the way their deliveries of food and drink get to them is changing, and how much of this is due to the COVID pandemic? 

In so many ways, marketplace platforms should be commended as they are using technology to serve the basic human need of consumers who want the convenience of tapping an app to order food (it’s now old hat to call your local restaurant to place your order) and this is even more prevalent than ever. You only have to look at revenues and profits that some marketplace companies have been posting recently to highlight how important delivery has become to the restaurant industry.

However, I’m not sure it’s a sustainable model for many businesses being overly reliant on marketplace platforms – but there is a way that restaurants can start to redress the balance in their favour, with the ethos of supporting local at the heart of it.

Restaurants need to focus on retaining their own customers by being more visible and be ready to engage with them. You’d be surprised how many food establishments don’t have their own websites or apps – but these are crucial and companies such as Flipdish can help set up sites and create apps in a matter of hours.

In short, restaurants need to be more visible in their local area and online – and promote the fact that ordering food from their local restaurant or takeaway, customers are supporting their local economy.