How Water St. Cafe Builds Strong Dasher Relationships

Learn how Water St. Cafe builds trust and transparency with drivers, known as Dashers, to make deliveries and pickups a breeze.

7 min read
Exterior of Water St. Cafe

Restaurants who foster a relationship with delivery drivers know how important it is to their success — but this practice is sometimes overlooked. Building trust and transparency can make pickups and deliveries a breeze while ensuring a positive customer experience.

The Water St. Cafe in Geneva, New York, is a great example of how a thriving relationship between restaurants and delivery drivers can help maximize growth.

How DoorDash transformed the Water St. Cafe 

A diner at the heart of its community, Water St. Cafe is a beloved family restaurant that was opened by James Brown in January 2020. 

According to Water St. Cafe marketing manager and full-time cook Teresa Cerino, "DoorDash has played a key role in our survival throughout the pandemic and beyond. We have been able to maximize sales by serving DoorDash orders in between in-house customers." 

Located in Finger Lakes wine country in upstate New York, Water St. Cafe delivers to everyone from locals and college students, to tourists who use DoorDash to find restaurants in the area. "We have earned 'Most Loved' on DoorDash for the majority of months, and it’s a point of pride for us," says Cerino.

With sales from DoorDash alone, Water St. Cafe has been able to employ three full-time staff, cover over a year’s worth of rent and utilities, and purchase all-new outdoor dining furniture. 

Water St. Cafe has experienced rapid growth through their DoorDash partnership, and that success has enabled important upgrades that keep the cafe a welcoming space for their customers.

Mx Blog  - The Power of a Strong Merchant-Dasher Relationship at Water St. Cafe - collage of restaurants patrons/staff/food

Valuing Dashers adds value

It’s human nature to want to be recognized, respected, and appreciated. Restaurants and Dashers can work together for mutual benefit.

A crucial part of Water St. Cafe’s success with delivery has been thoughtfully and deliberately cultivating positive relationships with Dashers. "We’re a small business," says Cerino. "The Dashers are truly an extension of our restaurant — they really represent us. It’s not just another service; they’re making sure our customers have a good experience." 

Teresa Cerino

"The Dashers are truly an extension of our restaurant — they really represent us. It's not just another service; they’re making sure our customers have a good experience."

Teresa Cerino, Manager, Water St. Cafe

It’s a win-win scenario that helps restaurants find quality delivery drivers — and everyone benefits, Cerino notes. "We cultivate these good relationships with the Dashers because then they pick up our food quickly, and deliver our food efficiently."

What are some tangible ways DoorDash merchants can successfully strengthen their relationships with Dashers? 

Mx Blog - The Power of a Strong Merchant-Dasher Relationship at Water St. Cafe - Dasher with award giving thumbs-up

1. Reward your best Dashers

Personal relationships matter — and they were particularly crucial during the pandemic. Throughout that period, Cerino says that she made an effort to get to know Dashers on a personal level. "Dashers were doing their best for us," she says. "There were single moms who were bringing their kids along since the schools were closed."

To recognize and appreciate Dashers, Water St. Cafe created a "Dasher of the Month Award" during the pandemic. This honor came with a financial reward: the Dasher who completed the most deliveries for Water St. Cafe over the course of a month received a gift card to the cafe. This type of reward incentivizes Dashers to perform their best, while giving the cafe the opportunity to acknowledge the value that Dashers add to their business. Plus, a gift card turns Dashers into Water St. Cafe customers, further strengthening their bond. 

2. Rate your Dashers in the Merchant Portal

Dashers are an extension of your business, and providing feedback to them is essential to fostering a better working relationship. It helps Dashers know where to improve, while keeping the lines of communication open to establish trust and transparency. You can rate Dashers in the Merchant Portal: simply open the Orders tab, find the order, and select a rating as Poor, Good, or Great. This feedback can provide valuable insights into the delivery process, and help you build a valued fleet of Dashers.

3. Designate a delivery point person

Cerino recommends designating a point person, such as a hostess or front-of-house manager, to oversee DoorDash orders. This is especially important for small and independent restaurants. Face-to-face interaction with Dashers can improve the pickup experience by helping Dashers get access to their delivery orders quickly and efficiently. 

Ensuring a seamless pickup process translates to a positive customer experience and helps build trust and loyalty with merchants, Dashers, and diners alike.

"There’s a disconnect with some restaurants where they just put up a shelf, and you grab the bag and go," says Cerino. "I understand some places are busy, but having a face-to-face point person is so important. The Dasher isn’t just left standing there wondering where their order is. They can ask questions and not be afraid." 

A strong merchant-Dasher relationship helps growth

The merchant-Dasher relationship is essential to successful delivery operations. "The energy you put into building a relationship with your Dashers is what you’re going to get out of it," says Cerino.

Building a strong merchant-Dasher relationship requires communication and cooperation, which ultimately benefits everyone.


Allison Van Duyne
Allison Van Duyne

Content Marketing, DoorDash

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