With so many meal delivery services available today, one of the commonly asked questions from customers is, “How do my meals stay fresh and safe in transit?”

Many customers are concerned about the condition their pre-made dishes or raw ingredients will be in when they’ve arrived at their home. And they have a good reason to be worried about that. Spoiled food can not only ruin the meal kit experience, it can turn off customers entirely from a meal delivery service.

So how can you ensure the meals you’re delivering stay fresh and safe in transit? The good news is, it’s not impossible. Here are a few tips to help you get meals to your customers in a way that’s safe and efficient, so you can feel confident they’ll always be happy.

Use an “All-in-One” Solution to Monitor Dispatching, Pre-Staging, Customer Satisfaction and Food Safety

One of the smartest things anyone in the meal delivery business can do is take advantage of an “all-in-one” style app that allows you to track the progress of the meals you’re delivering. That’s where a solution like Zest Delivery comes in handy. Zest Delivery gives you the chance to monitor and maintain meal conditions for instant delivery. You’ll receive a plethora of features with this app, such as dispatcher monitoring. This is where you can get real-time alerts of any out-of-compliance handling or bag operations.

When using the Zest Delivery bags that get plugged into a vehicle’s power supply to ensure the food stays at the optimal temperature, the driver and dispatcher can receive a notification if they’ve forgotten to plug the bag in. This helps cut down on quality issues with meals.

Another incredibly beneficial feature is the ability to pre-stage meals, which can be delivered to customers faster since the meal prep is done ahead of time before the cooks get too busy. Your meal service then has the ability to provide a fixed menu of popular meals that you can then be pre-staged with a delivery vehicle.To boost customer satisfaction rates, you can also use Zest Delivery to provide custom meal heating/cooling profiles to ensure meals are transported under the ideal temperature and humidity. This gives you the chance to cancel any meals that didn’t maintain your quality standards, which cuts down on the dissatisfied customers.

Don’t Put All Your Trust Into Third-Party Delivery Services

When a restaurant sends a meal out for delivery using a third-party service, they no longer have the ability to maintain the quality of the food. That means there’s a much greater risk of a delivered meal not being fresh and restaurants can’t be sure the customer has a high-quality experience like they would when dining in the restaurant. But customers want to order meals and enjoy them in the comfort of their own homes. In fact, it’s been predicted that there will be a 79% surge in the total United States food delivery market by 2022.

So, we need to find a way to provide an efficient delivery service. It’s important that you don’t put all your trust in third-party delivery services. Your customers want and expect on-demand delivery. For that reason, you should be in control of your meal delivery service from A to Z. This helps ensure quality and efficiency after the meals have been prepared.

Ensure Vehicles/Transportation Meet Food Delivery Standards

One of the most important factors to ensure meals stay fresh, safe and in pristine condition while in transit is to meet food delivery standards with your transportation method of choice. If you’re transporting meals to customers in a vehicle, there are certain standards you need to adhere to. The most crucial factor is cleanliness. All delivery vehicles need to be kept clean and should be properly sanitized on a regular basis. There’s nothing worse than delivering food in a dirty vehicle. And even though the odds are slim that the customers will see inside, you should still set guidelines for how often vehicles should be cleaned and what kind of cleaning needs to be done.

Make Sure Employees Understand the Importance of Regular Sanitation

Building upon the point above, it’s imperative that employees understand the importance of cleanliness as well. The best thing you can do is to educate new employees as soon as they join your staff. Let them know what’s expected of them in terms of regular sanitation. Are there any rules they should follow? How often should they be washing their hands, cleaning vehicles, etc.? Outline all of that early on so there are never any questions.And of course, you should give occasional refreshers to employees who have been on the staff for a while just to make sure they’re upholding your rigorous standards. Keeping things clean is important if you want to keep your customers happy.

If Anything Goes Wrong, Address the Problem Immediately

If any problems ever do come up regarding the freshness and safety of meals, you absolutely need to address the problem right away. Waiting too long to correct the problem or accept fault will only lead to disgruntled customers.

First, we’d suggest addressing the issue immediately with your internal staff. Let your employees know what went wrong and what needs to be done to prevent the issue from happening in the future. This will reinforce the standards they need to be following in order to give the best portrayal of your business. You’ll then want to speak about the issue with your customers. Don’t leave them wondering if you’ve fixed the problem. Let them know you’re proactive about correcting internal issues as swiftly and efficiently as possible. It demonstrates that you take great pride in your business and that you want to ensure their happiness by ensuring their meals are staying safe and fresh in transit so they don’t have to question it in the future.

Dan Scalco is the author and co-creator of FoodBoxHQ.com. He blogs about meal delivery and food kits and meals and provides his readers with the information they need to make the right decision on which meal/food delivery service is right for them. You can visit his website here. He wrote this blog for Zest Labs.