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Avoiding Food Delivery Chaos And Hangry Tenants: Why Buildings Need A Food Delivery Management Solution


A tsunami of food deliveries may be approaching and commercial building managers face a stark choice in how to prepare for it. One option is to establish a food delivery management solution — or FDMS — to ensure lunches and other meals are delivered efficiently and safely to tenants.

Another is to set up a table in the lobby and hope for the best.

To anyone who has ordered food delivery at work only to find their meal is cold by the time it reaches them — if it isn’t lost among their co-workers’ deliveries — the latter approach leaves something to be desired. And yet, it usually is the first step a landlord will take to cope with surging meal deliveries.

“Many buildings will put a table in their lobbies and direct delivery workers to leave the food there,” said Steven Sperry, CEO of Minnow Technologies, a proptech startup he co-founded in 2017. “While this might seem like an easy solution, it really creates more problems than it solves.”

Sperry said it also leaves buildings ill-prepared for a future in which the need for food delivery management will only increase in urgency. He noted that many returning workers grew to love food delivery while working from home during the pandemic. That isn’t likely to change when they return to the office, particularly if they find that the lobby café or restaurant they used to frequent closed during the pandemic. 

“If food delivery achieves the same rate of adoption as e-commerce — and it shows every sign of heading in that direction — then in the not-too-distant future, 50 billion meals could be delivered annually in the United States,” Sperry said. “In that case, a residential building that is now getting 30 to 50 food deliveries a day would get 300 to 500 deliveries a day. There’s a tsunami of food deliveries on the horizon, and property managers had better be ready for it.”

In addition to potentially leading to hangry building tenants, a tabletop or similarly improvised arrangement contributes to a messy lobby appearance. It also raises food safety concerns if meals are left unclaimed for too long, Sperry said.

If buildings want to avoid frustrated tenants and confused delivery people, Sperry said they need to adopt a food delivery management solution. This is an organized approach that monitors every food delivery, provides secure access to every delivery and warns a tenant if their order has gone unclaimed for too long. 

Other components of an FDMS program include the use of dedicated storage compartments, such as Minnow’s Pickup Pod, to facilitate the food drop-off and keep it secure until it is claimed.

Whether the property owner is trying to entice employees back to the office or attract new residents, Sperry said an FDMS allows them to offer another hospitality-like amenity in their building. It also communicates to residents that management takes the issue of food safety seriously.

He said a successful FDMS is based on three pillars: policy, placement and people. 

“Policy” requires setting clear procedures for how food is to be delivered and picked up in the building. “Placement” is about ensuring that the Pickup Pod or other storage solution is placed where delivery workers can easily find it. 

“And ‘people’ is about making sure tenants, property staff and delivery workers all understand how food delivery works at the property and what they need to do to comply with the policy,” Sperry said.

Many buildings long ago developed procedures to handle the influx of non-food package deliveries from the likes of Amazon. That was an important step, but Sperry stressed that an FDMS is unique because a burrito bowl is vastly different from an item of clothing ordered online.

“The crux of the problem is that commercial buildings were not designed to handle an influx of food,” he said. “What makes food delivery even more challenging is that it is fundamentally different from package delivery.”

Nonedible packages arrive at set times via a parcel delivery service like UPS or FedEx. Food, however, can arrive at all hours of the day — and night in a multifamily building — and the person bringing it may not be familiar with the building layout and rules.

Sperry said Minnow offers its clients signage and other materials that they can post or share with people in the building so that the FDMS program is understood by all.

“We've managed well over 100,000 food deliveries for our clients, and we’ve learned that it's not a simple matter of dropping the food onto any horizontal surface in a lobby and expecting it to work,” he said. “Food delivery is very nuanced and you really have to integrate a food delivery management solution into the overall ecosystem of the property. Property managers who don't are really going to have a difficult time during the coming tsunami.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Minnow Technologies and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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