Dark kitchens are professional, purpose-built kitchens that are occupied and used by delivery-only food businesses. Sometimes referred to as virtual kitchens, ghost kitchens, and cloud kitchens, they exist remotely outside of traditional brick and mortar high-street restaurants, stores, or venues as a space to prepare and produce delivery food.
These kitchens have proven to be a real game-changer for food businesses hungry for a slice of success within the delivery-only market. As one of the most cost-effective ways of running a delivery-only kitchen, food businesses have been able to captivate and thrive on the opportunity for growth and development. Those already occupying dark kitchens have realised that you don’t need to further invest enormous sums of money in order to turn up the volume on delivery capacity.
As a highly effective way of maximising efficiency, increasing sales, and broadening customer reach, many delivery-only food businesses have recognised the benefits of branching out. They’ve turned their attention to what multi-brand delivery has to offer.
A shift in demand
Over the past few years, the delivery landscape has undergone some big changes. The size of the market is at an all-time high and shows no signs of slowing down. Technology, consumer behavior, and, of course, the events of 2020 and 2021 have all had their part to play in fuelling the perpetual growth of the food delivery industry.
One of the biggest changes is ordering habits. More and more customers are now ordering online. The ability to use web or app-based order platforms to find and purchase from local delivery restaurants and brands has given customers the power to explore and experience local delivery offerings like never before.
Traditional methods of ordering and collecting food directly from high-street takeaway providers or restaurants are fading out simply because online ordering has taken the lead on choice, convenience, and efficiency.
Naturally, online presence is now far more important than high-street presence. Customers placing orders for delivery aren’t really all that fussed about the location or appearance of the restaurants that they’re ordering from. They just want quick and easy access to a variety of great-tasting delivery options. This technology-driven shift in consumer behavior has presented a golden opportunity to start-ups, restaurants, and food entrepreneurs looking to delve into the takeaway delivery market.
Dark kitchens are on the rise
Because delivery-only restaurants don’t actually need a physical restaurant presence, there’s an immediate opportunity to save on overheads and costs. It’s now far more financially accessible for new businesses and start-ups to enter the market. There’s no requirement to fork out on astronomical high-street rental prices, spend money on decorating and fitting-out restaurants that wow guests and you don’t need to employ and manage a team of front-of-house staff.
As a delivery-only restaurant, you can strip your business model right back to basics. This gives you the chance to focus solely on mastering great, quality food that feeds the local delivery demand. There’s money to be saved and opportunities to maximise operational efficiency as your business grows.
You’ll just need a spacious, clean and functional kitchen space where you can prepare and distribute delivery orders. Dark kitchen facilities offer just that, providing a financially viable commercial kitchen solution.
These kitchens are popping up left, right and center and providing opportunities for food businesses to thrive within the growing and ever-changing delivery market. We know dark kitchens offer a more cost-effective approach to running a delivery-only business. But actually, there’s great potential to go one step further and really squeeze maximum efficiency out of a commercial dark kitchen space.
What is a multi-branded dark kitchen?
A multi-branded dark kitchen is one that is run by a single parent company, serving a selection of brands from one commercial kitchen. Each brand is unique and brings something different to the table. They have their own cuisine style and a separate menu and dish selection. Individual brands are treated and marketed as their own entity.
But here’s the trick. Each brand is cooked in the same place, by the same chefs, using the same equipment. As a multi-brand food business, on one side of the kitchen, you could be preparing a beautiful superfood salad from one of your vegan-inspired brands, whilst on the other side of the kitchen you could be boxing up a juicy gourmet burger for an order placed from one of your American-inspired brands.
As the single parent company, you manage the design, marketing, preparation and delivery of a honeypot of brands. This includes the kitchen itself and the overheads such as gas and electricity and staff salaries.
Why serve up multiple brands?
So, what’s the benefit of the multi-brand approach? If you already occupy a dark kitchen and have the capacity to do more or about to start a new food delivery venture, the multi-brand approach really is a no-brainer.
You’ll have more scope to meet customer demand and increase profits, all without having to move or adapt your premises or employ additional kitchen staff. It’s all about making the very best use of your current resources and maximising return.
Widen your audience appeal
A multi-branded dark kitchen offers the ability to serve a variety of cuisine styles. Delivery customers have an ever-increasing appetite for accessibility to greater choice that satisfies their tastes, lifestyles, moods and dietary needs.
Moving away from a singular brand and diversifying into other cuisine styles through multiple brands, enables you to enrich your offering to the local food delivery market, feed the demand for more choice and amplify your customer reach. Your audience appeal becomes unrestricted as you gain the ability to tap into the tastes of a broader pool of consumers.
You’ve got a great deal of flexibility to pick and choose which culinary options are likely to go down well within your local delivery area and to create brands and menus that work with your existing resources.
Adapt as trends as they occur
Anyone working within the food delivery and hospitality industry will understand just how tough it is to compete for customers in the ever-changing and fiercely competitive food industry. Consumer tastes and preferences are continually evolving and the pressure is on to keep up.
The multi-branded approach gives you the agility to adapt fast. You can introduce new brands and cuisines styles as emerging taste trends unfold. Whilst some customers like to stick with what they know and love, many are more open to trying out new cuisines and dine-in experiences. This is where dark kitchens really step up the plate and can come into their own as a hub for innovation and creativity. You’ve got the chance to become a pioneer of the latest food trends within your local delivery area.
As you already have the infrastructure, you can be one step ahead of competitors and hit the ground running as you introduce new brands to your local delivery market. There’s no need to upsize or make any drastic changes to your dark kitchen setup. You just need to be tuned in to your local demand and create or adapt your brands accordingly.
Maximise you return
Whilst you may need to invest a small amount of money in certain items of equipment in order to serve up multiple food brands, there’s no real need or pressure to make any drastic, costly changes to your kitchen.
The very nature of the multi-branded approach is that you maximise the use of the resources and facilities that are already available within your commercial dark kitchen space. As a result, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your kitchen’s efficiency and a healthy boost in return as the volume of sales increases.
How to get started on setting up a multi-branded dark kitchen
First, you’ll need to locate and source a dark kitchen space, then decide which brands and cuisines you’d like to offer before devising a marketing plan for each new brand. Then comes the operational logistics – consider how you’re going to manage orders, prepare the food and deliver to your customers. Whilst there’s plenty of opportunity to achieve a superb return on your dark kitchen investment, there is a lot to think about in the initial set-up phase if you want to get it right.
If you’re new to food delivery, in need of some support and direction, or simply searching for the most efficient, successful, and cost-effective way to break into the multi-brand delivery market, then we have just the partner for you.
Kbox Global offers an exciting one-stop solution for successfully creating a multi-branded dark kitchen. With over 30 pre-designed ‘pop-up’ delivery brands available that can be licensed to food businesses, this is a super-efficient, easy and streamlined approach to running multiple brands at the same time from the get-go. This highly effective end-to-end solution considers and accommodates for each stage of the initial setup and the long-term operation.
We’ll talk you through some of the key factors that you’ll need to consider when setting up a multi-branded dark kitchen and advise how Kbox’s services can help.
Check out the location
Location impacts what you can do and offer as a multi-branded delivery business. Getting a clear picture of your local delivery market is a must. Consider:
- What is the size of the delivery area?
- What are the main demographics?
- How many residents live in the area?
- How many commercial and office spaces are occupied?
- Who would be your biggest competitors?
The chosen location needs to be accessible to delivery drivers or riders operating within your delivery radius. Factor in how many customers you’d like to reach and what can you realistically achieve and deliver within your desired delivery time. Dig into and digest these pieces of important information before choosing a suitable location and premises.
When teaming up with Kbox, one of the very first things that they’ll help you do is gain a clear understanding of your local delivery market reach. Using a data-led approach, they’ll uncover your sales potential, identifying trends, delivery preferences, competition and gaps in the market for business growth.
Types of dark kitchen premises
There are a few dark kitchen options available.
The first involves renting a purpose-built, dark kitchen that is pre-equipped and ready to go. As dark kitchen popularity is on the rise, more of these spaces are becoming available in both urban and suburban locations.
You should expect these kitchens to at least have a basic fit-out. Gas, Phase 3 Electricity and Wi-Fi as well as an extraction hood, a hand wash area and shared chilled, frozen and ambient storage are all facilities that are generally included. Some delivery aggregators, such as Deliveroo, are now partnering with restaurants to provide fully equipped rent-free dark kitchens for businesses using their services. So, it’s worth checking out what’s available in your area.
Alternatively, you could opt for a purpose-built temporary modular kitchen. Again, this comes with everything you’ll need to serve up multiple brands. Whilst providing multiple brands has proven to be an effective way of maximising the efficiency of existing commercial kitchens – Kbox suggests you can add £2500 to £10,000 per week to your operation – some businesses prefer to do this away from their venue. Temporary modular kitchens are ideal for this.
The other option is to purchase or lease a space and convert it into a commercial dark kitchen, or multiple kitchens. This could be a warehouse or industrial space. There are plenty of property development companies out there who are skilled in designing and creating dark kitchens. You’ll have more flexibility to choose your kitchen’s infrastructure. Whilst the initial costs may be higher than the other options presented, in the long run, this could prove to be a more cost-effective approach, particularly as dark kitchen demand is on the rise.
Choosing your brands
Brand selection is one of the most important processes of kick-starting a multi-branded dark kitchen. The brands you choose to create will impact which audiences you appeal to. Having your own mega-mix of brands designed for different tastes is great for ensuring that you can spark up wide customer appeal. So, which cuisine styles do you choose? Something spicy? Something vegan-friendly? Something Italian-inspired? The world is your oyster. But be sure to base your selection on solid demographic and statistical research.
Once you’ve gathered data and insightful information about your local delivery area, you should be able to spot what’s in demand and where there are gaps in the market. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you need to be savvy and create brands that stand out and offer something better than what is already up for grabs in the existing market.
Each brand needs its own menu. The menu itself’s self if the real selling point for each brand so its composition, design, presentation and pricing mustn’t be overlooked. When designing each brand’s menu, you need to consider how each individual dish is going to deliver great taste and flavour whilst complimenting other items on the menu. This is really important for upselling and boosting order value. Have a think about how you could integrate customer personalisation within your menu offering as well as deals, discounts and mass catering options.
There’s no denying that it takes time and thought to get all this stuff right. Creating and managing even just one new food brand can be quite daunting. And, if you’re new to delivery-only, setting up multiple brands all at once is one way of throwing yourself in at the deep end. There’s a lot to juggle and consider.
Serving up multiple delivery brands with Kbox Global
Kbox offers a quick and easy solution for introducing multiple brands at the same time. There’s no need to spend copious amounts of time thinking up and trailing new menus. Kbox has already done the legwork for you.
Each of their licensed brands come with their own unique menu consisting of tried and tested dishes. They have specifically designed each menu to work with the multi-brand set-up. You can avoid any risks and save time associated with creating, designing and introducing a set of new food brands and menus. This solution enables you to get your teeth stuck into multi-brand delivery right away.
From crispy fried chicken and mouth-watering burgers through to Asian-inspired family favourites and hearty vegan options, Kbox have a superb variety of brands offering different cuisine styles available. But what really makes this solution stand out is the constancy in menu quality across the board. Each dish on each brand’s menu has been thought up by a Michelin star chef. Kbox takes great pride in providing expertly crafted, flavour-infused, tasty dishes that your local delivery market will love.
Choosing which of the Kbox brands you’ll offer will depend entirely on your local delivery landscape, your dark kitchen space and available resources. Using a data-led approach, Kbox gathers accurate and valuable insights about your local delivery market before pointing you in the right direction of brands that will work for your business’s delivery goals and ambitions.
What’s more, they’ll help you track and report on the success of each individual dish, so that you can amend and improve your brands and adapt with emerging trends. You’ve always got the ability to change your Kbox menus further on down the line as you find out more about how your brands, menus, and dishes are going down with your customers.
Marketing is a hugely important aspect of running a multi-branded food delivery business. Not only do customers need to find each brand online, but they have to be able to build trust and engage with the brand. It’s important to acknowledge that each brand must be marketed as a separate entity to avoid confusion and effectively target a wide range of customers. There are lots of different ways to market each brand and build awareness amongst your local customers.
Food delivery aggregators such as Just Eat or Uber Eats are a great place to start. They provide a fantastic opportunity to gain instant visibility in your local area. As they already have a large and loyal customer base with a hunger to explore new food delivery offerings, it’s a quick and easy route to getting your brands and menus in front of your local delivery audience.
You could also create a website or app-based platform for each individual brand. This will enable customers to find out more about each brand and place orders directly online. Social media is a must for any delivery-only brand. Not only is it key for raising brand awareness and targeting new audiences, but for virtual, delivery-only brands it works to create tangibility and build customer trust. Consider how you’ll use social media platforms to create unique, quality and meaningful content for each individual brand.
Kbox brand marketing
Multi-brand marketing is something the Kbox does really well. When partnering with Kbox, you’ll receive ongoing support on how to implement and improve brand marketing activities. From helpful advice and tips on brand building, social media marketing and reporting through to building relationships, loyalty and integrating with online delivery aggregator platforms, Kbox are on hand to help their partners to get the very best out of their delivery brands.
Order management and POS software is essential for any multi-brand dark kitchen. It’s there to take and communicate orders, manage order flow, monitor stock and track brand performance. These systems play a big role in enhancing the operational efficiency of your dark kitchen. There’s no room for delays, hiccups, and errors. When setting up your multi-brand dark kitchen, be sure to invest in easy-to-use and reliable POS software that supports your kitchen team.
Multi-brand tech support
Kbox wants to help partners to continually advance and grow their multi-brand dark kitchen businesses. As part of the set-up phase, they’ll provide you with a suite of reliable and up-to-date tech solutions that benefit overall efficiency, increase sales and secure a smooth and bump-free end-to-end order experience for both you and your customers.
Packaging, supply sourcing and equipment
There’s so much more to delivery packaging than simply putting food inside of a box or bag and sending it out to the customer. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the freshness and quality of delivery food whilst in transit. Once you’ve worked out your menu, you can source packaging that will not only contain the food but will show off your brands too.
You’re also going to need to source food suppliers that can provide your multi-branded food delivery company with the ingredients needed to curate each dish. This could include a combination of local suppliers and wholesalers. It’s really important to strike a balance between quality, price, reliability and convenience. Do your research, test out products and read reviews before selecting which suppliers are going to be stocking your ingredients.
And finally, you’re going to need the right tools for the job. Be sure to kit out your kitchen with all the equipment, utensils and machinery needed to produce each dish. This could be a combination of new equipment and second-hand pieces. As you provide additional food brands, you’ll find that much of your equipment is sufficient for an assortment of different cuisine styles, whilst some cuisines may require specialised pieces of equipment.
Ongoing support with Kbox
Kbox supports partners to achieve smart, accurate and efficient supply and reordering of ingredients and packaging. They’ll even help to organise any additional supply chain adjustments so that you can launch new brands and dishes with complete ease.
When it comes to equipment, Kbox are on hand to help you optimise and get the very best return on core equipment investment. And, if you’re looking to branch out into new cuisines that require specific tools, utensils or appliances, they can offer expert guidance on how and where to invest your money for maximum return.
Kitchen and delivery teams
Of course, to bring a multi-brand dark kitchen to life, you’ll need to put together a great team of kitchen staff who can manage and prepare online orders.
You may wish to hire chefs who have expertise in certain cuisine or menu styles. Or, you can opt for a collaborative approach, where your team of chefs all work together to produce dishes for each brand. Either way, the whole idea is that chefs and kitchen staff work alongside one another rather than in separate kitchens when producing multiple brands. This is key for saving considerable costs and boosting overall kitchen efficiency.
Next, consider how you’re going to run a delivery operation. You could employ a fleet of delivery drivers and riders or partner up with delivery aggregators who’ll take customers’ orders and manage the delivery. And actually, there’s no harm in combining these delivery approaches.
Team training and support
One of the best things about Kbox is that their menus have been created with multi-brand delivery in mind. Each dish is easy to prepare and can be out of the door in 15 minutes.
They provide full training via virtual sessions and video demonstrations so that new and existing members of your kitchen team can learn how to cook each item on the Kbox brand menus. You save considerable time and cost on staff training, and because even the most junior chefs can assemble these dishes, you don’t have to employ multiple chefs with different culinary expertise.
Kbox can also help your business to integrate each of your chosen brands with online delivery aggregators such as Deliveroo and UberEats.
Multi-brand dark kitchens offer a superb way of boosting profits and maximising efficiency. Having a pick and mix of brands enables you to dabble in a variety of cuisine styles and flavours, opening the door to broadening audience reach. Whilst the multi-brand approach lends great potential, it takes time to research, develop, establish and manage. With Kbox you can start serving multiple brands from your pre-existing or new dark kitchen almost immediately.