For Paul and Molly Hartman, it’s all about the personal touch. Owners and operators of Sarnia-based On The Dot, a pickup and delivery service, the Hartmans believe their personal interaction with clients gives them a leg up on their competition. “I think what is special about us is when you call for a delivery, you are going to talk to us,” Paul says. “You’re not just placing an offer on a phone app.” Molly adds, “We still say, ‘Good morning and how are you and how are your kids?’ Over the years we have met all of our customers. We’re really accountable to our city and we try to go above and beyond.”

In addition to On The Dot, the Hartmans also run Customers can place an order from The Beer Store or the LCBO and have it delivered in under one hour. “It is a really big part of our business,” Paul says. The couple met while working for Swiss Chalet and discovered they both were passionate about the service industry. Over the 20 years they spent in the restaurant industry, they saw a lot of delivery companies. “We talked about starting our own business for years and finally decided to do it in 2009. It’s a great industry – a lot of fun.” 

The growth of their business has been gradual. “Our original vision was really just hoping our little company could support both of us so we could work together to try to bring something good to our community,” Molly says. They now employ two full-time dispatchers and 35 drivers. The biggest challenge they have faced from the beginning is getting their name out there. “We have grown, but every single day people say, ‘We have never heard of you,’” Paul explains. “So we’re still trying to overcome that. Building relationships and trust with people and proving that we are dependable is an ongoing effort.”

The Hartmans understand some restaurant owners are skeptical of food delivery services. “We need them to understand we really respect their business,” Paul says. “We treat every restaurant we deliver for as if it is our own.” Unlike other food delivery services that do multiple pickups, On The Dot does one order at a time. Ten minutes before your food is finished, the restaurant calls On The Dot and a dispatcher sends a driver right away. The goal is to time the pick-up right so that there is little opportunity for the food to be waiting to ensure it arrives hot. “We have premium food-insulated bags and when our drivers show up to a customer’s door, they are clean and courteous. We tell our drivers to be smiling and polite.”

Paul and Molly’s days are long; usually 12-13 hours. “On the odd day when we work 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., we call that a half-day,” Molly says with a laugh. “That said, we go to bed each night and think, ‘What a great day!’”