New Waffle House partnership with Atlanta tech-startup Roadie proves to be promising

WAFFLEHOUSEIn what could possibly be the most random collaboration in recent history, Waffle House President and CEO Walk Ehmer recently announced that the southern breakfast diner would begin offering a new service: Delivering your packages.

But I think the home of scattered, smothered and covered is on to something with their attempt at making the new sharing economy a reality. This seemingly random partnership might just be genius and could pave the way for future
“crowd-sourced businesses.”

With the United States Post Office still struggling to remain relevant in the modern age (they’ve officially lost $26 billion in 3 years), startup companies are stepping in the arena to offer package delivery services better, faster and more efficient.

Enter Roadie, Inc. This Atlanta startup has an app that offers an item delivery service for people who are already headed to a certain destination. On Feb. 24, it was revealed in a press release that Roadie and Waffle House would be teaming up to “provide a convenient meeting location for drivers and senders.”
This is huge.

Contracting out delivery drivers much like Uber contracts out taxi drivers is the next logical step in the future of our sharing economy. This sharing economy is an optimistic future of commerce where businesses work hand in hand with everyday people to help run and operate their service.

To wrap your head around it, just think of it as the Uber of shipping. Waffle House is making a big investment by joining the recently established delivery platform market to effectively turn the 1,750 Waffle House locations into a sort of post office where customers can rendezvous with Roadie drivers to drop off items they need shipped or pick up items they’ve recently purchased.

Roadie drivers keep about 80 percent of the delivery cost. Plus, Waffle House promises to hook them up with a free drink while on deliveries (you can also grab a free waffle just for downloading the app).

The concept of Roadie could change the way we think of package delivery forever. Roadie’s real advantage is that it only selects drivers who are already headed to a certain place anyway. This maximizes efficiency and cuts down on the time you wait for your package.

For example, say you live in Chattanooga and need to ship an antique lamp to a Georgia State student. With this partnership, you’ll just go to your local Waffle House and meet up with a Roadie driver who just happens to be heading back to Atlanta after a weekend at the Tennessee Aquarium. Once they arrive back at Georgia State, they’ll meet up with the buyer at the Waffle House here on campus. The driver will make about $40 – $50 and the product can be delivered faster, cheaper and more conveniently. The best part is the Roadie driver was headed back to Atlanta anyway!

Just five years ago we could have never imagined a world where Uber was the smart alternative to getting around anywhere and five years from now we might be asking ourselves why we ever used FedEx or UPS in the first place.

A few issues arise from this, though. Much like Uber drivers, there’s no way to 100 percent verify that the Roadie drivers will not cause trouble or steal the item. Further, the curious case of shipping illegal drugs could come from this, with people using Roadie as a drug smuggling front. How easy would it be for a criminal to hide narcotics in that antique lamp I mentioned earlier? This is an extreme example, but when there is a loophole, I guarantee it will be taken advantage of.

But that’s a worst case scenario. I’m hopeful that this new Atlanta startup will use the reach of Waffle House to help bolster its success. I also applaud Waffle House for taking this leap of faith with Roadie with the hope of creating a long lasting, profitable partnership. Besides, after a long trip, I’m sure the Roadie drivers could use a good All-Star breakfast and Waffle House might see a sales increase.

What’s more, turning Waffle House’s image from everyone’s favorite 24/7 diner to a safe meeting place will help evolve the brand in this new tech era.