Ideas for Building Your Restaurant’s Catering Program

Developing a catering program can raise awareness for your restaurant, attracting new customers. The higher spend on catering orders is also a great way to increase check averages! 

Catering is now a $60 billion industry, and it’s growing 6% year over year.1 This environment makes catering a huge area of opportunity for many restaurants. When done right, catering programs allow you to grow awareness of your restaurant, attract new customers, build relationships with businesses and customers in your community and increase check averages.

Make sure to take the time to develop a catering program that will meet the needs of your customers. Here are some things to consider:

Menu

While you should create a special catering menu, it should be simple and reflect the food you already make for your dining menu. Food taste and quality is important, so take into consideration how your popular dining items can maintain their quality when made in bulk (pizza, party platters & trays for example). Try to use pantry items that you already keep on hand to avoid waste. Also think about how the items will keep over time and when transported.

Service & Staffing

The quality of the service you provide your catering customers is just as important as the food quality. Consider designating one catering contact for your restaurant so that orders are handled consistently and with the right level of service. Take advantage of off-peak hours to have your kitchen staff prepare catered food. Catering is very different from regular restaurant service, so be sure to train your staff appropriately. Make sure they understand catering policies and expectations, as well as any differences in recipes for preparing catering food.

Delivery

The availability of delivery is essential when investing in a catering program. 80% of catering decision-makers on the business side are not likely to order from a restaurant that doesn’t offer delivery, and 60% of all catering orders are business-to-business.1 If you currently do not have a delivery service and are considering using a third party service, learn more about factors to consider here.

Promoting Your Program

Start marketing your catering program by spreading the word with your current customers. Call it out on your dining menu, brochures, table tents and customer receipts. Promote your catering for office lunches, meetings and parties. Raise further awareness through your website, social media platforms and e-mail blasts. Work with Grande’s Solutions@ Work ® Business Direct Mail Program to get your catering information in the hands of the decision makers at businesses near you.

Sources:

1Technomic. 6 Ways to Grow a Catering Program. 2019.

Date: May 7, 2020

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