DashDelivers brings third-party delivery to Fort Frances

Ken Kellar

Residents in Fort Frances now have a brand new option available to them to make dinner easier at the end of a long day.

DashDelivers is a third-party delivery app that has recently expanded into Fort Frances, giving people in town another was to access local restaurants.

Started in Brandon, Manitoba roughly three years ago, the delivery service has since expanded east to Ontario and as far west as Vancouver Island, serving more than 50 communities in between. DashDelivers CEO and founder Chris Thomas explained the company works to facilitate transactions between restaurants and hungry patrons.

“We’re kind of like the middle man,” Thomas said.

“We partner with the restaurants in town that don’t offer delivery, and sometimes ones that do just because it gives them more orders. We partner with them, take their menu and then we digitize it into our app and our website, and then on the flip side, we find contract drivers locally who are willing to drive and take the orders from the restaurant to the community.”

DashDelivers is similar to a number of different apps that have been put into place in different cities in Canada like UberEats, DoorDash or SkipTheDishes, and all operate in roughly similar ways. The customer uses the app to search for a restaurant that offers delivery or takeout with that company, and once an order has been made, the app connects a driver to the restaurant who will then make the delivery. Each entity involved in the transaction benefits from the process; restaurants see more orders, DashDelivers earns a commission and drivers earn wages and tips.

DashDelivers and its competitors have also been well suited to weathering the recent uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, especially as a way around dine-in restrictions.

As the pandemic wore on, Thomas said the entire company changed from cash and debit to online payment in efforts to keep possible contaminations to a minimum, and implemented other measures to keep people as safe as possible.

“Once COVID hit we made the decision company-wide to completely switch over to online payments to limit the contact, to make it safer for the drivers and for the customers and restaurants involved,” he explained.

“So there’s a little less interaction personally. And in fact, they can order contactless delivery, so if they choose contactless, by default it will tell the driver to leave the food on your doorstep and ring your doorbell and then they back away and wait for you to get your food.”

Patrons can modify delivery or add special instructions, he added. The system allows maximum flexibility, with minimum contact.

The COVID restrictions also heightened the value that third-party delivery services like DashDelivers could have for restaurants with and without their own delivery options. In Ontario, one of the requirements for restaurants in the early days of the pandemic was that restaurants would only be able to operate in a take-out/delivery capacity, and Thomas said similar restrictions in other provinces led to increased interest in the app.

“In the past I would say half the challenge was getting restaurants on board,” he said.

“COVID really made people more interested in the idea of delivery. It really opened people’s eyes to the need for this. Even if things bounce back to normal it’s something you want to have in your back pocket. Restaurants also saw how many extra deliveries it could bring. A lot of our communities have basically returned to normal already and yet the restaurants are still seeing all kinds of deliveries.”

Thomas said data he’s watched over the years has shown an increase in the amount of times per week the average family will order out food, which he explains is in part due to the rise of third-party apps increasing the diversity of offerings that can be easily accessed.

“We have a lot of Boston Pizzas on board; a lot of other standalone pizza places,” Thomas explained.

“What they’ll see quite often too is that they had a solid user-base of people in these communities that were ordering all the time because they were the only option out there. So there were a lot of people that didn’t order delivery a lot because all you could get was pizza. All of a sudden we bring in a bunch of other kinds of restaurants, [people] get on the platform, they start bringing delivery into their lives as a more common scenario and then they still want pizza one day and they go back and [restaurants] start seeing some new orders from people they hadn’t seen in a while. So it’s beneficial, I think.”

However, even as more and more restaurants get on board with the idea of third-party delivery, Thomas said it can be challenging for the app to get an adequate supply of drivers in the area, particularly as DashDelivers begins to branch out of communities that are 10,000-20,000 in population and into smaller centres like Fort Frances.

“Usually the most challenging part is – and it’s not always, it depends on the community – is finding drivers,” he said.

“That certainly has been a bigger issue in Fort Frances. If there’s a message I’d like to put out, it’s that if anybody is looking for any kind of part-time or casual work – little harder to be full-time with this gig – to earn some extra money, we could definitely use some more drivers in town.”

DashDelivers is currently live in Fort Frances with options to order from McDonald’s, Mr. Sub and Subway. Thomas noted that delivery is currently only offered at suppertime due to the limited number of drivers so far, but the company is working to get more drivers and restaurants on board to open up the options available to customers, as well as the times of day food can be ordered.

To get started with DashDelivers, download their app from the app store of your choice, or visit their website at dashdelivers.ca.