Cutting a Slice of the Delivery Pie

Article excerpt

Even as technology supposedly simplifies our lives, many Americans find themselves getting busier each year.

That's why demand may continue to grow for restaurant delivery services for those who are too busy and tired to either cook or go to a restaurant, but want something better than what comes out of the microwave.

Because of the large market for food delivery services, Gary Colvin, owner of Dining Express Delivery, believes there is plenty of room for him among several other local competitors. And the first month has shown signs of hope. "I developed a business plan that we're following and so far we're definitely ahead of the plan," notes Colvin. "Oklahoma City has been a really good city to break into. They've embraced us. The corporate community has been really open." Colvin, who began operations March 16, says his primary market is local businesses. For instance, he has delivered a number of meals in the last month to accountants who were too busy to leave their offices during tax season, as well as emergency room workers with short breaks who are tired of hospital food. Another major market is people staying in local hotels. Colvin's operations is a branch of a company which has operated in Tulsa for the last seven years. Colvin owns the Oklahoma City operations, but pays a monthly fee to receive support from the Tulsa headquarters and use the company name and logo. He characterized the relationship as more of a "sister company" relationship than a franchise, noting Dining Express Delivery's dominance in the Tulsa food delivery business helped give Colvin a head start in this market. The company provides deliveries for nine local restaurants -- including Chinese food from Grand House, Italian from Romano's Macaroni Grill, Mexican from Chelinos and El Chico's, and other varied cuisines from Bricktown Brewery, Chili's, Johnnie's Charcoal Broiler, Leo's Barbecue and Varsity. Colvin receives $3.95 per delivery from customers regardless of order size. Customers can pay their bills by cash, credit cards or corporate accounts -- of which Colvin has already set up several. He also charges a fee to the restaurants, although Colvin would not discuss the amount. However, the fees from customers and restaurants are enough to add up to more than $100,000 in revenues per month in Tulsa, according to Colvin -- a sum he believes is achievable here within the next 12 to 18 months. …