Uber Technologies launched its food delivery service, Uber Eats, in the Port City on July 12, bringing a new option for meal delivery service from area restaurants.
The service is currently available in 220 cities worldwide, and allows customers to browse food options and view estimated delivery times and prices, including tax and booking fees, as well as track delivery progress once an order is placed.
But food delivery is not something new to Wilmington. Surfside Express Delivery has been in operation since 2008. Owner Josh Cleghorn said he believes he has a strong enough foothold on the delivery market that he will not see a major impact from Uber Eats.
“Uber Eats provides the convenience of getting food from point A to point B, but that’s it,” Cleghorn said. “We provide a level of customer service that goes way beyond that.”
Cleghorn said Surfside Express Delivery has uniformed drivers so restaurants recognize them upon arrival, the proper containers to keep food warm en route and a commitment to getting the right food to the right location in a timely manner. The service also provides delivery of beer and wine as well as group ordering, which are services that Uber Eats does not offer.
“If anything, Uber will get some of the market share due to their name recognition, but it will also help get the word out about local delivery providers,” Cleghorn said. “And competition just makes you work harder and seek new opportunities for growth and improvement.”
Cleghorn said that at the end of the day, he feels the level of customer service his company provides will surpass that of Uber Eats.
Michelle Barrow, who has owned and operated Cape Fear Delivery Service since 2016, also said it is customer service and the willingness to go the extra mile that will keep her from losing customers to Uber Eats.
“Eighty percent of our business at this point comes from repeat customers,” Barrow said. “We support local establishments and make sure people get whatever they need. They know they can count on us.”
In addition to meals, Cape Fear Delivery Service offers pharmacy and grocery delivery. Barrow said the company has very strict policies regarding food handling, including that the food is placed in temperature-controlled bags and is never opened.
Cleghorn and Barrow both said that their connections with local businesses allow them to keep their delivery costs competitive. While all three companies have independent pricing and delivery fees, much of that depends upon delivery location and independent agreements with participating restaurants.
“If there is a problem with one of our deliveries, we will . . . take care of the problem immediately,” Barrow said. “We have a personal relationship with the restaurants and we’re always available by phone to address customer service issues.”
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