Convenience is huge in the foodservice industry. Think about how many restaurants you know that offer online ordering and delivery. 34% of consumers utilize , options more often than a year ago, according to a recent survey conducted by Technomic and the National Restaurant Association. The same study also found that 39% of consumers say they use drive-thru more than they did a year ago. Clearly, to-go dining accounts for a substantial portion of off-premise sales.
But say you’ve got that covered—you’ve partnered with a third-party delivery service, and you even have a drive-thru window. However, you’re still looking for ways to increase off-premise sales. It may make sense for your restaurant to expand into catering. Offering catering to your patrons gives them yet another avenue of convenience, whether they need large meals for office luncheons, holiday parties, birthdays, or other special occasions. David Meiselman, CMO of ezCater stated that catering makes up 18% of sales on average at restaurants that offer it. Did you know that KFC and Chic-fil-A offering catering? The sandwich chain Potbelly has rolled out delivery and catering in all its locations. But how feasible is it to integrate a catering program into your sales strategy? What about the costs and logistics? Here are some things to consider:
- Choose your format: Figure out whether you want to offer full-service catering, carryout, drop-off, or all.
- Simplify your catering menu: You don’t want to allow your guests to order anything en masse from your menu. Limit your catering menu to a few items, including your best sellers and sides, to allow for quicker and more efficient cooking and prep time.
- Calculated pricing: When thinking about how to price your catering items, consider the fees associated with catering and factor them in. These costs may include transportation, packaging, and other expenses as it relates specifically to your catering operation. It’s a good idea to see what your competition is charging, too.
- Get your kitchen ready: Make sure your kitchen has adequate space and equipment to accommodate large orders. This includes counter space, refrigerators, cookware, ovens, burners, and more.
- Don’t forget to market: You won’t get a catering order if you don’t market it! Make it known on your website, emails, printed menus, Yelp, social media profiles, banners, and signage that you offer catering.
It’s a strategic move to transition into catering, but not necessarily an easy one. However, when done correctly, it’s a decision you’ll be glad you made. If you’d like professional advice on how to implement restaurant catering into your operation, please contact Synergy.