I have spoken before about my distaste for Just Eat. I live in a town massively populated with restaurants with 150 restaurants in the Town Centre alone. 350 restaurants, pubs, and takeaways all in all. Quite a few of the businesses in Colchester use Just Eat. I don’t have a problem with people using Just Eat. My problem stems from how their company treats the takeaways and restaurants they serve.
Just Eat as a Business Aid
You’ve opened a takeaway for the first time, and you want to get your name out there. How will you get recognised? A lot of people struggle with this kind of question. Let’s say you’re the owner of a business, restaurant or take away, it doesn’t matter. You want to be found by customers, and Just Eat seems like a good way to do it. After all pretty much everyone knows about Just Eat so a lot of people will find you through them. Set up cost is an exorbitant: £700.00+ (£1000.00 for one of my businesses!) Plus they take 15% to 20% in Commission. (You’d be better off using the money to advertise with on Facebook! Feel free to contact me for advice, which is always free!)
Just Eat is fantastic as a tool if you want to be found on their app, and on their website. If you don’t want to have a website for your business, I think they’re a great tool. If you do want to run your own website, read on, brave explorer.
The Rabbit Hole
So you’ve made your own website. You may have invested a lot of money in one. Maybe you’ve built it using Wix Restaurants, or maybe you’ve had one designed for you. Websites can cost thousands of pounds if they’re well put together. A good website is great for showcasing a company and showing the world what you do. So how is this impacted by Just Eat? Well… They’re paying to rank above you! They’re also forcing their page on your Google business entry. If you’ve got your own order system up there, it won’t last long!
This might not be much of a problem if you have got no ordering system on your website. If you have got an expensive ordering system like the businesses I usually work for this can become a nightmare. The thing is, you’ve paid for this ordering system. You want your customers to use it. You don’t want Just Eat swooping in and taking their commission from customers who are actively looking for your business.
What does this mean?
People who are looking for your business are actively looking for your business. This might seem obvious at the moment but bear with me. Say your business is “Captain Hooknose’s Clam Chowder Parlour” A very specific business name for a very specific business. You might not show up under “Fish and Chips” on Google, or even “Clam Chowder” but you might show up under “Clam Chowder Parlours – Town Name” and similar. Notice Just Eat won’t compete for big business terms, like: “restaurants in Colchester” It’s too expensive as there’s too much competition. The thing is they don’t care about competing for actual search terms, but they’re happy to take advantage of the traffic that naturally gravitates to your business!
People who type in “Captain Hooknose’s Clam Chowder Parlour” are not looking for a vast array of different businesses. They’re looking for “Captain Hooknose’s Clam Chowder Parlour” EXACTLY. Their only interest is in the sweet clam chowder only your business is capable of providing. Even non-SSL secured, badly key-worded and low quality SEO sites usually rank locally for businesses very successfully, so you should be pretty high up on Google, regardless of the skill of the person who designed your site.Suddenly, you notice you’re not top of the search results anymore. Just Eat is.
With it’s huge amount of connections and backlinks Just Eat is taking over. Just Eat has also got a Google Ads account directly pointed at your businesses name. This means now they are paying a pittance to steal customers off you and take your commission. Only a certain amount of people will type your businesses name into Google. These people are ONLY looking for your business. They are NOT looking to order off Just Eat but they will order off them because they are top and because they are easy.
Congratulations, Just Eat got you a lead, but it was a lead your restaurant’s name should have got you. If you’ve got an online ordering system, they’re actively taking your customers and pocketing the commission. Look up your business in Google Search. If you’ve got an order page, ask yourself why it’s been replaced by Just Eat. This kind of thing is exceptionally dodgy and really bad business practise.
So how does this work?
Just Eat takes a commission around 15-20% of your order costs. Let’s say you order £20.00 worth of food. They’re getting around £3.00 to £4.00 from you. For higher orders, this is higher. A lot of orders are between £35.00 to £50.00 for most of my restaurants. That’s a lowest order value of £5.25 per order, and our restaurant is closer to 20% so it’s around £7.00 plus per order.
Competing for our keywords used to be 14 pence. So Just Eat is paying 14 Pence per Click, and if one in 10 people who clicks on Just Eat actually orders food, that’s £1.40 per paying customer. £7.00 – £1.40 = £5.60 which Just Eat is making by doing this. Of course in reality, the number is closer to 7/10 people buying from Just Eat when they look for your restaurant specifically online. So it’s costing them a lot less than £1.40 per customer. More like 20 pence, leading to a profit of: £6.80 per customer. Of course these are estimated, but most people order a reasonable amount from restaurants and takeaways online.
The problem is that these customers are directly looking for your business, so if you’ve got an online ordering system, Just Eat is paying to take the customers from you and taking their commission cut. They are not providing you with a good service. They are directly competing with you for your own customers and pocketing the money whilst claiming to help your business. This is a very corrupt and dark strategy. So what have Just Eat got to say for themselves? I started with a cheerfully aggressive message, and they asked me to message them to get things sorted out. (The comment by this point will have been hidden by their social media team.)
I realise that the message, and my manner are somewhat aggressive, but I’ve been trying to protect my businesses for a while against Just Eat and help them get back into decent profit levels again. After many days of changing details around, I was pretty fed up having our business whipped off it’s own Google business page for Just Eat. For the screenshots of this transcript, just to show it actually happened, click: here.
ME: Hi, you asked me to message you, I’ll give you an example of one of our competitors. Now this guy actually spent a lot of money on his online ordering system, we got it changed back to his website, however it got changed back.
JUST EAT AI: Hits me twice with a chat bot. Letting me know I am cared about.
ME: You need to work on your chatbot by the way, this kind of spam could be offputting to customers.
JUST EAT AI: Hits me twice with a chat bot. Fuelling me twice with rage.
JUST EAT: Hi Alex, thanks for reaching out to us, we’d like to look into this for you and discuss any concerns you have, could you please confirm you restaurant’s name and postcode? ^EM
(Point: I’m not actually obliged to give any information, and giving it might be bad for me anyway because I’m worried they will do something to penalise my customer for my questioning Just Eat’s ethics, it could also be problematic as whilst I’ve been hired by the restaurant in question, I don’t officially work for them so it could be a technical breach of data protection. I will forgo adding more chatbot spam as you can see it clear enough in the photographs I’ve attached!)
ME: I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable enough with telling you, however I can offer a case study example of what you’re doing in practise. (I attach the Big Man’s Grill Picture.)
ME: This is Big Man’s Grill one of our competitors, he’s also tried to change his page from Just Eat to his ordering page which cost him a lot to set up.
ME: I swear to god your bot is annoying. (It’s the most relentless spam I’ve ever had to face.) My company can write a better one that won’t chase people away. You need to get it looked at. Now when you type the name into Google, your ads come up, keyworded to compete with him – this is a violation of the trust you have with a customer. (I attach a picture of the Google Search, wherein Just Eat is advertising to compete with their own customer.)
ME: Only people who are directly interested in Big Man’s Grill in this scenario are people who are DIRECTLY looking for the restaurant. By competing with them using your ads, you are cheating them of customers and pocketing the commission. This has been your company’s strategy with a lot of clients. I’ve studied you pretty well. (I have to study them as they’re in competition for most of my clients!)
JUST EAT: Thanks for reaching out to us, Alex. As part of our commitment to restaurants, we help promote their business through their Just Eat page and beyond, we’re always happy to discuss this with our partner restaurants. To discuss this further and with specific reference to any partner restaurant, we’d need the explicit permission of the restaurant owner, and for a security check to be passed. ^EM (It’s not necessary for them to know any of my details. I’m asking a general enquiry. This applies to a large amount of restaurants which are being scammed by Just Eat. They can answer something like this without having to know who I work for.)
ME: I’ve given you an example of what is going on. I am interested in your opinion of what you’re doing to restaurants like mine? I’m not asking for specific information on any restaurant. What I’m asking is why are you using these techniques to hoodwink people like myself and my boss who have put faith in your company to supply us leads? You are literally taking our customers and taking credit and cut for it and I think that you can give me answers without being specific to any restaurant. If I tell you, I am afraid that you will penalise our restaurant somehow, and I cannot bring myself to trust you. I am very familiar with GDPR, which is why I cannot legally give you the information you require. You don’t need to run any security checks, as I am not asking for specific information pertaining to our business. You can respond to me out of courtesy, which I would appreciate.
JUST EAT: Thanks for explaining, the reason why we’re asking for details isn’t in order to give you a general statement around why we’re doing this. It’s more so for us to help assist in any potential removal of PPC or Google Pins for your own restaurant, which by the looks is your main concern. However, to answer your question around why we bid on each restaurant on our platform, it is quite simply to help all the restaurants who choose to partner with us to increase the number of orders they receive.
JUST EAT: As we understand, it can be more difficult for an independent restaurant to win a position on page one themselves. However, if you are a restaurant – we’re more than happy to escalate your restaurant to our Performance Marketing Team to see if we can stop the bidding for your restaurant, to do this we would need to complete a security check. ^RJ (RJ has walked into a trap of his/her own design. I am an SEO specialist working for several different companies. RJ is keen to know who I work for. RJ will be disappointed.)
ME: This is interesting and you have answered it well. You are basically admitting that your business model in this regard is to make sure that all restaurants who partner with you get more orders through JUST EAT. This is not the restaurant getting more orders BECAUSE of you, as I’ve mentioned, however it’s more an example of you paying a pittance to make sure you get your commission. This is interesting, yet concerning. The thing is ONLY people who are interested in RESTAURANT will type in RESTAURANT NAME to Google. Therefore they’re already interested in RESTAURANT without JUST EAT’s involvement. You’re not getting customers for clients. You’re taking a cut from what your clients would normally get from customers.
It’s actually very easy even for a non SSL certificate ranked business to be the top of the Google search, as an seo specialist, this is something I understand very well. If you are suggesting that it’s difficult to rank for competetive terms, then I will agree sometimes that can be a pain, however in terms of your restaurant’s name, it’s very easy, so I don’t buy into this at all. In regards to Google Pins, it could be taken as impersonation of a business, as you are directly interfering with the business of your customers. In regards to PPC ads, you are directly competing with Zero PPC ad competition for the restaurant names in question for any of the restaurants in my town I’ve looked at. This can only be taken as an intentional attempt to take business from the restaurants in question, due to there being no competition. Even with you being the higher power SEO wise in regards to the restaurant I showed you.
Our restaurant no longer needs to compete with you, I’ve just made it strong enough for your team to not compete for it anymore. I think there’s a limit to what they’ll pay for PPC. I’m a particularly good SEO guy, it’s my secondary job, so we no longer have to deal with this irritation. Your justifications don’t really answer anything in a satisfactory manner. I’m also not being specific on things because it’s not necessary for a general enquiry. It’s just not the normal kind you may be used to receiving.
Lastly, your chat response service is incredibly poor, it spams relentlessly and it’s annoying. I know a very good chatbot creator, who has built many bots for the organisation I work with, if you like I can try and get you set up with one that can handle a lot of basic tasks so that your team will be less stretched for work, it also won’t spam as I’ve been spammed. Let me know. (They havn’t responded to me since. Hopefully they’ll get that Chatbot fixed. It made the experience a lot more harrowing than it had to be!)
If you are a business owner and you don’t have a website but want your business to have a way people can order from you online, Just Eat is an acceptable idea. I would recommend getting a website as it will be cheaper in the long run. You could do better from advertising on Facebook. Personally I find that Just Eat is distasteful in the way it takes advantage of it’s customers lack of knowledge when it comes to the internet. I think they’re shady and I also believe they are control freaks. If you’re a business owner and have your own Just Eat partner account you’ll know what I mean when it comes to your ability to change around your menu and prices.
Just Eat is a controlling and malevolent entity. I personally cannot bring myself to trust them, and I feel that their business ethics are lacking. As for you the reader, it is for you to decide. Look at some of your local takeaways and restaurants on Google, and see weather they’re being encroached on by Just Eat. Look up the businesses, and see if their delivery page has been changed to Just Eat. Look for Just Eat ads, and see if they’re advertising for “restaurants in -your- area.” Maybe they’re just advertising for the name of your restaurant, and others on Just Eat.
If you are a partner with Just Eat, I recommend increasing food prices by 12% to 15% and uploading a new menu to Just Eat, I believe that will cost you £20.00. In time that will save you a lot of money, and reduce the negative effects of their business. You can also offer 10% off of online ordered food on your website if you’re running Facebook pages. People might appreciate this enough to type in your web address instead of Just Eat.
As a business owner, I know only too well that profit is something that we all need to survive. I work with Facebook advertising and SEO through Business Clips and my homemade software, Helix. I would never work with an organisation that payed to compete with me online. This competition is detrimental to my success. Personally, I see this as theft which is why it angers me so much. At the end of the day, the choice is yours when it comes to dealing with Just Eat. It can be decent in the right hands, but for a company with it’s own site, in my opinion… Just Eat causes more trouble. than it’s worth. You’d be better off paying for ads in Google and on Facebook.