Category Archives: Fast Casual

The Best Reward And Loyalty Programs for your Catering Customers

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Here is an article I wrote that was recently published in Franchise Grade –

When it comes to catering out of restaurants, our industry still has trouble defining who our target customers are. At a surface level we continue to think of our catering customers as professionals, such as sales representatives, administrative assistants and pharmaceutical representatives, that are all in need of an exceptional off-premise catering experience where they live, work and play.

While that is true, I’d like to provide you with a different perspective.

I’d like you to consider that your catering customers are no different than your in-store customers. All your in-store customers can purchase or influence the ordering of catering. The thing is, your in-store customers are a diverse group of decision makers, and each of them has a need to feed others in their lives. We have discussed over and over that restaurants need to focus on a single consumer who is loyal to a brand, but is making different buying decisions depending on their needs at that time.

With that framework in mind, I’d like you to reconsider what the right strategy is when it comes to rewarding your customers for catering versus in-store transactions.

We all know that frequency builds routine habits and we also know that restaurant reward and loyalty programs drive increased frequency into your restaurant locations. Just check out the myriad of great reward and loyalty solutions now available in the marketplace. They all focus on the retail transaction, although that is now changing.

From the perspective of your catering clients, if you focus your operations on “flawless execution” the more your customers will trust that you can provide professional and reliable catering services. As a reward, theywill refer you to their colleagues, friends and families.

Commonly used rewards tactics are a way to “surprise and delight”your catering customers in the same way consumers strive to receive their Starbucks Gold cards or MyPanera cash rewards. However, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind that are relevant to catering rewards tactics.

1. Rewards can build on loyalty, but a brand must deliver all-around value, service and flawless execution.

2. Be careful navigating your ‘kick-back’ perception. This is a delicate dance.

3. Decouple your catering rewards program from your in-store loyalty program.

4. Provide reward options that include free product for personal or catering transactions.

5. Provide loyalty redemption options that include 3rd party gift benefits, such as prepaid Visa cards.

6. Provide your customers with the option to select which program they prefer

While a lot of brands use existing retail rewards programs to service catering customers we must remember that a catering transaction is not the same as a take out transaction. Catering is its own business and every aspect of that business needs to be treated separately when it comes to loyalty and rewards. You need to create and implement a different program for your catering transactions because the key business drivers are completely different.

Your strategic goal should be to maintain loyalty and frequency over the long term because you’re selling much more than the specific benefits your customers need. You are selling value, reliability and convenience, not price.

Surprise and delight your customers as it pertains to loyalty and think about a layered approach based on dollars spent. And remember: To be effective in surprise and delight, you really need to know your customer. Establish initial and valuable trust in the beginning of your catering relationships and offer rewards also based on referrals as an effective way to meet and acquire new guests.

Stop thinking about the relationship with your customer as a transactional one and offer rewards that showcase their incentives each month. Once you do, you will be better able to evoke an emotional response from the reward because you are reaching your clients by offering items that mean more to them. Make it personal.

Today, we’re living in a world where customers are extremely social and technology allows them to be social on a scalable basis. Social allows marketers to tap into a customer networks in the real sense, which also drives referrals.

Customers love when a brand understands them. So give them something your catering customers can’t resist. This will increase frequency and, in turn, your catering profits.

Let’s talk catering!

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Travelin’ Brand by Sam Smith – Good Article about Restaurant Catering

Increase Catering Sales

The article “Travelin’ Brand” in the February Issue of Restaurant Business is very thoughtful.  As I have been pursuing the restaurant catering conversation for the last 16 years, I find it very refreshing to see other writers covering the subject matter.

So many of our customers and friends at MonkeyMedia Software and The MMS Catering Institute ask about the “size of the prize”.  While I am not convinced that the numbers presented in the article are perfectly defined, I think it is a great step towards helping our restaurant community understand the subtleties of the marketplace.

The following link will provide you with digital access to the article which begins on Page 47.

http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/publication/?i=194650

Great Job Sam Smith and kudos to Restaurant Business Magazine for providing coverage on such an important topic.

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How to Grow Catering Sales: A Franchisee’s Perspective

Franchisee/Franchisor

It’s no secret that the franchise model for growing restaurant companies continues to be a key driver in the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry is no different than other industries such as the music industry, the movie industry or even the software industry. Ours is an industry full of creativity, processes, proprietary flavors and company cultures. It makes good business sense for our industry to leverage that intellectual property across the globe through franchising. Like any business, a restaurant’s strategic plan is critical.

A franchisee is a very important community member within the restaurant industry. Happy franchisees promote positive energy. Happy franchisees invest in their restaurant operations. Happy franchisees will strive to meet restaurant brand standards. Happy franchisees care about results. And happy franchisees make more money!

Yes, when franchisees make money we have a healthy franchising ecosystem that thrives, prospers and grows for many generations forward. And so, that is why a franchisee is so important to our restaurant community.

Thinking about restaurant catering as a franchisee, I’d like to encourage you to take some time to understand the perspective of restaurant catering from the franchisor’s perspective. This is very important because, well frankly, they need your help to do catering right. What follows is my perspective on the franchisee/franchisor relationship and how it impacts the decisions that need to be made around catering out of franchisee locations.

As we all know, the franchising business is only successful if the franchisees believe they are getting timely services from the franchisors. Good franchisors understand this service dilemma and go out of their way to make sure they invest in the proper infrastructure to provide services to their franchisee community. When it comes to franchising, the franchisor is the seller and the franchisee is the buyer. It’s no different when it comes to catering out of franchise ecosystems.

As a franchisee, please consider how rapidly the market for healthy and convenient food is growing. Franchisors everywhere are in a constant race to position their restaurant brands in front of consumers, and demands and tastes are shifting every day.

Because catering out of restaurants has primarily been an industry afterthought, many franchisors have neglected to make this important sales channel part of their brand’s core business strategy. And the ones that have are still in the early days of our industry’s evolution.

As a franchisee, your job is to help your franchisors understand your needs. Because catering is tied to the business strategy of your restaurant, it requires attention at the most strategic level of the brand you represent. You need support to execute the catering operation with precision.

In many franchise systems, good franchisee operators went ahead with catering services in earnest. Why? Because catering out of restaurants is simply smart business. Catering makes you more money.

Every restaurant franchisee today has customers asking for catering services. In addition, every restaurant franchisee needs more sales to help make this week’s payroll. Saying no to customers is never an option for any growing venture. Good franchisees find a way to do it.

And so, as the telephone rings more and more for these services, we must raise our service to a standard that can be measured and ultimately improved. That is the only way to yield more sales and we need to get better at it.

On this franchisee-catering journey, we must deeply understand the subtlety in restaurant operations when it comes to catering. It requires a sturdy organizational foundation at the executive level committed to solid catering leadership and enterprise-level catering alignment. No business can advance without clear leadership, financial accountability and a vision for future growth. Therefore, franchisees must work together with their franchisors on restaurant catering to implement a scalable business focused on incremental sales. Franchisors can utilize the scale and resources of the full ecosystem to drive more sales for everyone by representing the brand properly in the marketplace.

As part of this strategic alignment exercise, franchisees must include their restaurant unit managers and their community team members. If employees at the restaurant level are not trained around your designed catering culture, that culture will cease to exist and your catering program will fail.

To get everyone in your operation on the same page — whether you have one restaurant or 100 — here are 4 characteristics of organizational restaurant catering alignment that should be agreed upon and communicated to the rest of your restaurants and your franchisors:

1. Sales Goals: A clear and concise sales goal must be posted publicly and promoted visibly within all areas of your restaurants. Growing catering sales takes a full team commitment to selling.

2. Financial Investment and Resources: Restaurant catering represents a high-margin sales opportunity. A few small investments in the right places will yield incremental sales with few incremental costs. These investments need to be well defined, qualified, quantified and committed to.

3. A Commitment To Training & Standardization: People development is a key aspect to succeeding in your restaurant catering division. It takes ongoing people development to solve catering problems.

4. Coordinated Action Through Conscious Leadership: Results in an aligned customer service action throughout every department of your organization. Catering team ambassadors in every department all working together for seamless execution of catering, while maintaining existing business operations.

Let’s talk catering!

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