Flipping the Script: Why IHOP Refuses to Rush into Delivery

IHOP, the beloved breakfast chain, has decided to take a patient approach when it comes to offering delivery services. According to Darren Rebelez, the brand’s President, IHOP would rather prioritize getting things right rather than being the first to jump on the delivery bandwagon.

In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, Rebelez explained that IHOP wants to ensure they have the fundamentals down pat before accelerating their delivery plans. With weak sales and decreasing foot traffic affecting the restaurant industry as a whole, many chains have turned to delivery as a way to stay relevant.

Although IHOP has yet to announce a specific launch date for their delivery service, they are set to debut an IHOP app before the year ends to facilitate third-party off-site ordering. Currently, IHOP is testing delivery with third-party partners such as Amazon.com Inc. and DoorDash, with plans to add GrubHub to the mix in the first quarter of 2018.

To guarantee a smooth transition into delivery services, IHOP has created a franchisee task force. This task force is responsible for providing input on the design of the delivery containers and in-restaurant procedures for handling and dispatching delivery orders. Once the service is launched, participating IHOP restaurants will have a designated delivery point person overseeing the process. It is estimated that around 45 percent of IHOP’s U.S. locations will participate in the rollout.

Breakfast concepts have historically struggled with delivery due to the delicate nature of their food. As Rebelez explained, “breakfast has never traveled well.” However, IHOP has spent a year developing a unique takeout container that aims to protect their pancakes at all costs. The container consists of a clear branded lid and a thick plastic vessel for insulation. The lid has two detachable sides, creating a suspended container within a container. This sub-chamber is designed to hold the pancakes above any other food items, preventing them from getting soggy. Vents in the lid maintain the pancakes’ freshness while trapping heat between the items stored on the top and bottom.

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While IHOP’s container design is exclusive to the brand, Denny’s came up with a similar system when they introduced their own delivery service in May. Rebelez, however, remains unfazed by the competition, emphasizing that IHOP stuck to their original timeline even after Denny’s launched their delivery.

When it comes to on-premises dining, IHOP is focused on leveraging technology to enhance the guest experience. Rebelez believes that technology should reduce friction rather than complicate operations. Unlike some quick-service and fast-casual concepts that have implemented self-ordering kiosks, IHOP is not exploring that avenue. Their goal is to simplify dining and maintain the personal touch that guests appreciate.

IHOP is considering adding tablets for servers to send orders directly to the kitchen without having to travel to a point-of-sale station. Additionally, they are exploring options for guests to remotely check-in to a waitlist and pay at the table, allowing them to leave whenever they please.

With approximately 1,700 locations worldwide, the majority of which are in the U.S., IHOP is committed to remaining a customer-focused establishment. While delivery is an important addition to their services, IHOP wants to ensure they get it right to avoid upsetting their loyal patrons.

For more information and updates about IHOP, visit the Hook’d Up Bar and Grill website.

Contact Dan Orlando at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @DanAMX.