For any student at the University of Colorado, or anyone in Boulder, for that matter, eating out is a bit easier than it used to be.
Daniel Rolland started an online food-ordering site called HungryBuffs. com based on an online service at another university.
“I had some family friends who were running a similar website at Penn State called lionmenus.com,” he says. “I thought they were doing a very good job, and I like their website design. However, I thought they … lacked presence on campus, so I started Hungrybuffs.com in January 2007 with the same technology platform as the Penn State kids.”
Rolland’s first steps were getting local restaurants involved.
“I developed a sales pitch in order to convince restaurants to sign up for online ordering, which revolved around convincing restaurants I would bring them incremental business, and change the market for the better,” Rolland says.
After he was able to convince restaurants to get involved, Rolland collected menus as well as general information about each business to post on his website for the convenience of the buyer.
“When I first started, I had to collect every menu in town,” he says. “Afterwards, I called all the restaurants to get all their information. This included their hours of operation and whether or not they delivered. Then I uploaded all the information on the website.”
The website was so successful right after its launch that more and more restaurants began to join, realizing it was a great opportunity to expand business.
“When I first started, only a handful of restaurants participated in the online ordering,” he says “However, it was still a very marketable website, since I had the menus and hours of operation of every restaurant in town, broken down by category. I received positive feedback from the initial handful of restaurants that were on the website, which led to more restaurants signing up.”
But there are still holdouts. Some restaurants prefer to handle online ordering themselves. Jimmy John’s, a popular sandwich store, does not use HungryBuffs.com, despite its high volume of online orders.
“Jimmy John’s does offer online ordering through their own website, and we had a fair amount of orders that way,” says Garrett Henry, a former Jimmy John’s employee. “During the lunch rush we received mostly call-in orders, but still 10 percent to 15 percent were online orders, and at dinner it was up to about 25 percent.”
Henry explains that some restaurants simply want every aspect of their business to stay within the company.
“I can see how HungryBuffs.com would be beneficial,” he says, “but I do know, however, that Jimmy John’s likes to work almost everything within the company, so I’m not surprised that they don’t advertise on HungryBuffs.com, and kept their online orders to their own website.”
A majority of the restaurants that participate in online ordering purchase advertisements.
“I have advertising packages that I sell to restaurants on a yearly basis,” Rolland says. “The ad packages are based on exposure, and range in price from $1,100 for the smallest to $11,000 for the biggest, depending on how much exposure the restaurant wants. There are also a few non-restaurant establishments that advertise, such as law firms and dispensaries.”
He adds that hungrybuffs.com does generate a considerable amount of profit.
“We get a commission of every online order that goes though our website,” Rolland says. “The commission ranges from 6 percent to 8 percent, depending on the agreement we have. The website generates 60 percent of its revenue from ad sales, and 40 percent from online order sales.”
Students at CU seem to have had a great response to the website.
“I literally use it every time I want to order out,” says Rebecca Davis, a junior at CU. “Even if I don’t order online, I go on the website for the menus, phone numbers and to find out whether or not they deliver.”
“The website is brilliant. I just wish I had thought of the idea,” says Michael Aranda, a senior at CU. “It is the most convenient website. I don’t know what I would do without it.”