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My purpose is to guide you into your own food delivery business that you can operate from your home.  You are not preparing the food or cooking the food. You are the DELIVERY SYSTEM for your city. I originated this business and thought up the name and operated until I decided to change my line of work and start yet another business that took me to foreign countries and turned me into a movie maker.  

If you are happily married you will be working together as a team to grow your food delivery business.  One of you will answer the phone and take the orders in a cordial voice and a caring attitude.  The other will be driving the delivery wagon. Everybody is going to use your services from time to time. Place your menus with the police and fire departments and all night shifts in all the factories large or small. All the gas stations will be you customers.



Vehicle should be an economical gas saving vehicle preferably a battery powered four wheel cart.   It needs to have a cargo area but not especially like a pick up truck.  Just enough cargo area to carry a pizza oven and various sacks for your salads, etc.   If you live in a hilly area make sure it has enough power to negotiate the hills in your town.  Yes, you might also have the cargo area enclosed for rainy weather, etc.  Find a battery powered vehicle that has these attributes.   Or if a battery powered vehicle is not for you, then I would look at the FORD TRANSIT for starters. 


Find yourself a good sturdy pizza oven that you can use to transport your hot dishes to your customers.   These are usually able to keep your dishes hot as you drive to your customer’;s address.  When you return to base, you plug it back into electricity and keep it as hot as possible between runs.   This item is a box with a handle on the top so you can easily pick it up and carry it into the restaurant and into your customer’;s homes.  It has an electric floor that heats up the box.  If you can find one that also has heat elements on the sides (or walls) of the oven then buy that one.   This is just a portable oven where you do not COOK the dishes — just keep them warm. I always take the portable oven into the home or motel room and open the door and the steam comes rushing out. It is very impressive. The customers will love you.


After you have met and visited with your local restaurants you are going to publish your own menu that you will mail to every home in your community.  Print your menu in large font so everybody can read it without their glasses. You will also place your menus in the local motels and hotels.   You might discover that you are the only “room service” in your town.   I did in Hawaii.   There were only two hotels in Waikiki that had room service when I established my business on the island of Oahu.   I became “ROOM SERVICE” for the entire WAIKIKI area of the island.  My menus were placed in every hotel room and then I mailed the rest to the homes and businesses throughout the Waikiki district.  I would publish a menu that is like an accordion with each individual restaurant on each page.  Pick out a good name for your business and place it on the front page.   My name was PHONE-A-MEAL.    If you want to use that name you can.  I don’;t have a patent on the name.   Even if there were a PHONE-A-MEAL delivery service in every town in the USA it wouldn’;t matter, would it?!  No, it wouldn’;t matter at all.   In fact, it would become a trade name that people can depend on when they are moving about the country.   They can always rely on PHONE-A-MEAL helping them out.  Some people who are too tired to cook will be using your service.  And other folks who are partying at home and suddenly got real hungry will be using you.   Then there are those who are in motels and starving will be calling you to their rescue. You must get the order to each caller as fast as possible. Do NOT send out all of your menus at once. Space them out in an orderly fashion. Send out no more than one thousand at the beginning. See how it goes. Then increase one thousand per month until you are cooking with orders every day and night. As soon as you see too many orders coming at you, begin training other drivers and get them working ASAP. You can pay them above the minimum wage as long as they are pulling their weight. But, their TIPS are going to assist them and you. Take down their odometer reading and reimburse them for their gas every night. You hope that each driver will be making money for you. They need to be paid, but they also need to make money for their employer.


Study your restaurants before you make contact with the owners.   See what they have that would work well as a delivery item.  In other words don’;t even think about delivering dishes that are fragile and would fall apart in transit.   You want only the dishes that would hold up well with all the dips and turns your must make to get them to their destination.  Find out what the “SPECIALTY” is in each restaurant.   If one restaurant specializes in chicken dishes then use them as your signature chicken dinner house.   If another restaurant specializes in STEAKS then use it for your steak dinner house.   Then go on down the line until your menu is world class with choices of dishes.   THAI to CHINESE to KOREAN to TURKISH to GREEK and on and on. I worked with eleven restaurants minimum and most every one of them offered dishes that were uniquely different than the other restaurants.


Please dress appropriately.   Wear new shirts and pants and keep your shoes polished.   You MUST look like a professional.    If you want to make a uniform, do it.   Publish the name of your business on your shirt and be proud.  Do not EVER forget your forks and knives and spoons.  If you are delivering a salad to customers in a motel and you forget your plastic fork, you might as well jump in the lake.  If you have to hire drivers to help you, please make sure they are with you in every regard.   Make sure they know about forks.   Make sure they are trained in every aspect of their job.   If some restaurants want the drivers to package the salads and add a lemon slice to fish dishes, make sure you train your drivers to do this on their own.   It is advisable that YOU yourself, work the business for several months before you hire drivers to help you.   You MUST know every aspect of every restaurant and be ready to train your drivers accordingly.  You must always speak kindly to workers in the restaurants and also speak kindly to your own drivers.   You might want to yell at them but you cannot.  You must simply talk to them as a gentleman.  Talk to everyone as if they are your best friend.  You will find out very soon that they ARE your best friends. 


You are going to operate with at ten dollar minimum for each order. But, your percentage fee for food dishes will most likely bring you much higher profit.

20% of the order is your profit.   But, you might also add another few dollars to the order if the order is too small.  You want to at least bring in ten dollars for each order.  Just add the 20% and if it does not add up to ten dollars in profit, simply add a few dollars until it does give you ten dollars for your run. 


You might be asked by the customer to pick up a fifth of Chivas and you can add a five dollar charge for each extra pick up.   They might want a liquor pick up and also groceries or flowers or items from a pharmacy.  Just add five dollars for each pick up even if the pick ups are in one market.  It still gives you a lot of extra steps to walk around the market picking up the items.   Five dollars for each pick up is what you must add to your delivery charge.  Believe me when I say that you are worth every dime when you make pick ups for your customers.  You are saving them a lot of discomfort and danger if they have to get up, get dressed and go out in the rain to pick up those items.  You are their savior. 

However, if you are picking up dishes from more than one restaurant you just add another 20% for the additional pick up at another restaurant. You don’;t need to add another five dollars for additional food orders. Just add the five dollars for all other items. But don’;t add five dollars for every item that are of the same genus. You don’;t add five dollars for each orange for an example! You just charge for the bag of oranges. You can also let other fruits come under that same five dollar charge. In other words, don’;t be unreasonable to your customers. If they want various fruits from the fruit department of the market, just add five dollars total for all of the fruit that you collect in that department.

If your customers don’;t want a food delivery but just want you to pick up non-food items from a pharmacy or other outlet just charge them ten dollars for the pick up and delivery. If they send you to more than one outlet to pick up items, you make sure your initial charge is ten dollars and all other pick ups are five dollars each. You can state this on your menu if you want. It is probably a good idea to let them know the charges before they send you running all over the place. As long as they know it is ten dollars for the first pick up and five dollars for each additional pick up they won’;t have any surprises when it is time to pay you. And don’;t forget to charge the customers for the actual items that you bought for them! Keep those receipts!


Do you need a Class A CDL? NO. You just need a Class C license. Do you need extra insurance? You can ask your insurance agent that question. You are not hauling people. You are hauling food and other items. You might need a business license from your local city government. You might need a PUC license. Ask your City Hall these questions. If I were you I would join your Chamber of Commerce. Be a participating member of your Chamber and attend any and all meetings. Don’;t forget, you have customers literally everywhere in your community even within the Chamber of Commerce.


I was working in the mail room at CBS in New York having just returned from my first trip to Europe five months previous. Little by little I was losing energy and strength. My supervisor finally told me that he could not recommend me for any other department at CBS. My part time job at Barney’;s was noticing my energy drain. My mother told me that she noticed that I can’;t even tie my own tie. Energy was leaving me. I entered the hospital for a check up and they took blood and then came screaming down the hall looking for me. They said, “You’;re dying of a terminal blood disease. If you stay we can prolong it.” I thought that I might as well go try to convince a ship captain to let me ride along until it’;s over so I could at least see a little bit of the world. The doctor said, “That’;s not a good idea.”

So I gave up and they took me to a room and began taking bone from my chest and blood from my ears, arms and fingers. The doctors returned to my room a week later and told me, “You’;re going to live, but you knew it didn’;t you?!”

They then told me to go home to California and stay in bed for six months. It was lying in bed that I got the idea for my food delivery business. “There must be many people like me, bed ridden and unable to cook their own food.”

I then went to the restaurants and told them of my idea and they all joined my menu. I slowly but surely placed themenues in the motels and then mailed the menues to the homes by spacing them out to one thousand per month. I ended up having to hire high school students and college students to help me. We have a thriving business on our hands and everybody working for me had a ball. They made great money in tips and they also loved meeting all the customers. Everybody connected with PHONE-A-MEAL was a winner.

One warning. Unless you love to work, don’;t start a business. They require that you work very hard.

Your friend,

Robin D. Williams


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