New business lets hungry customers ‘skip the trip’

Food delivery service partners with host of local restaurants

In 2019, La Center resident and Washougal native Katie O’Daniel began to seriously think about her career options. For the past few years she had been a stay-at-home mom, but with her son about to start kindergarten, O’Daniel, who had previously been a nursing assistant and hospice worker, decided she wanted to join the workforce again.

When O’Daniel told her mother, Camas resident Stacie Blomdahl, she was going to accept a job as a food deliverer while figuring out her long-term plan, which would ideally involve owning a small business, Blomdahl said Camas needed a food-delivery service.

One day later, the duo had jumped on their idea of starting a Camas-Washougal food-delivery service.

O’Daniel and Blomdahl launched Skip the Trip Delivery, a local food delivery service, on Oct. 7. Since then they’ve partnered with nine restaurants in Camas, Washougal and east Vancouver, and said there are more coming online soon.

“(We started) without really knowing what we were getting into, honestly,” O’Daniel said. “I’ve learned a lot of different (things) that will work and won’t work, what the community will want to do and what they won’t want to do.”

Washougal Times owner Ben Jackson has been partnered with Skip the Trip Delivery “from basically day one” after his employee, Lacey Swanson, introduced him to O’Daniel.

“Keeping it ‘in the family,’ in a sense, attracted me to them,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know anything about the company itself, but I knew Katie and her mother were locals, and that was enough for me. I met their family; Katie’s brother is a regular here. I guess the best way to put it is that I like the small-town feel of keeping it local. I also like their emphasis on customer service. They do a really good job.”

O’Daniel and Blomdahl partnered with Time to Eat Delivery, a nationwide food delivery service that provides training, materials and financial assistance to people who want to start a business of their own.

“They help you learn how to be able to do it the right way and what ways don’t work, and they design it 100 percent based upon everything different than what (other services) offer,” O’Daniel said. “Our drivers show up to the restaurant in uniforms. We don’t hold contracts because I don’t want a restaurant to be working with us if (our services are) not benefiting them.”

Unlike other services, which do call-in orders, Skip the Trip sticks to online orders only.

O’Daniel said call-in orders can lead to mistakes in the order, which is why her service relies on online orders. She added that “all the little, tiny things” that other, bigger-name food deliver services do, Skip the Trip does differently.

“(Other services) take up to 30 percent from the restaurant and also (charge the) customer with up-costs, and we don’t do that,” she said.

Skip the Trip Delivery’s services, available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 4 to 8 p.m., seven days a week, can be accessed at skipthetri pdelivery.com and the company’s app, available on Android and iPhone.

“Their website and mobile app are well done, so they’re easy to understand and order from,” Jackson said. “It’s important for people to know that the ordering experience is user-friendly and intuitive.”

Orders are sent to a delivery driver through the app and to the restaurant through a tablet set up specifically for Skip the Trip Delivery purchases.

The driver picks up and delivers the food, which is sealed in a thermal bag to ensure proper temperature and quality.

“Restaurant owners might be hesitant to start relationships with delivery services because they know that once the food leaves, they have to cross their fingers that the company will treat it the right way,” Jackson said. “I’ve seen photos that (Skip the Trip Delivery) customers have taken with their food in the box the way it’s supposed to look, which is really cool. They do a very good job.”

The customer is notified when the order has been picked up and can track the driver’s location on the app.

“The customers love that they are supporting two local businesses with one order,” O’Daniel said.

After more than three months, she added, the company has not logged a single complaint.

“We have not had one bad review yet,” she said. “I haven’t had one customer call and tell me that their food wasn’t done right or that it was super late. We’ve just surprisingly done really well.”

O’Daniel values having good working relationships with the restaurant owners she partners with.

“They want their stuff done right,” O’Daniel said. “I have to portray their restaurant the same way that I want our business to be presented. Going into all these meetings with any of the restaurant owners that I work with, we have an equal respect for each other. I’m helping them, and they’re helping me. We need to be able to be a partnership on this. (I want) to make them happy. We’ve made it a more personable experience.”

Currently, Skip the Trip Delivery delivers food from Los Dos Compadres II, Washougal Times and 2 Rivers Bar and Grill in Washougal; Smitty’s, K&M Drive-In, Chinese Garden Restaurant, Tommy O’s and Salud! in Camas; and Catedral Tapatia in Vancouver.

“I’m anxious to get a good variety of restaurants,” Blomdahl said. “I think people really want more of a variety at this point, because the people that do know about us support us and use us over and over again. We need to add more restaurants and more choices.”

O’Daniel and Blomdahl are currently focused on residential delivery, but hope to add business delivery in the near future.

“Workplace delivery is completely different type of design because it focuses on businesses with a lot of employees,” O’Daniel said. “It’s more of like a streamline from the restaurant to the employer and back and forth and back and forth. And then, eventually, we could also have the ability to go into grocery delivery.”

O’Daniel credited her current partners for helping to spread the word about her business, giving particular praise to Jackson, who “goes above and beyond to promote us with anything he can.”

“Anyone who wants to talk about Skip the Trip Delivery, I can’t wait to have that conversation,” Jackson said. “To me, it’s a common-sense thing. They’re another business that’s supporting Washougal Times. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t (use Skip the Trip Delivery). It’s not costing us a dime. It’s very low- to no-impact on our business and the way we do things. It’s not rocket science; the more we help Skip the Trip Delivery, the more it helps us. We’re looking forward to riding its coattails of success, because the more successful it is, the more successful we are.”

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