Category Archives: Multi-Unit Restaurant Operators

Be wary of online & mobile ordering solutions when it comes to Catering


Alright!  This post is sure to raise a few eyebrows!

Let’s mix it up a bit today.  As we all know, Online & Mobile Ordering for restaurants is all the rage these days.  (again!).  As an industry, we suffer terribly when it comes to technology and the deployment of that technology into the operations of our restaurants.  We just don’t get it. And to make matters worse, the technology companies are using confusing marketing and messaging to further confuse everybody.

Online and Mobile ordering is just e-commerce.  It’s simple and is great for extending a transaction to the consumer, but it just won’t help you run you business better.  Not even close to better.  It has no operations based logic.

But it’s important to understand where a transaction online will impact your operations.  As restaurateurs, we must understand that catering out of our restaurants is an operations based business problem.  It’s not about just taking an order online.  It’s about how to execute that order flawlessly.  It’s about order fulfilment.  It’s not about taking the order, it’s about getting it out the door, on time, every time.  Order execution is the key to growing your catering operations, not just taking orders online.

There are hundreds of technology companies out in the marketplace that are offering online ordering.  You all know who they are.  We all see them at the trade shows.  The reason why there are so many is because taking an order online is the easy part.  There is little to no barrier to entry and so, anybody can do it.

Airlines, Floral, Books, Music, Clothing and just about every other product you can think of is now available through online ordering.

But to run a successful catering operation out of restaurants, you need a real business solution.  You need a software solution that has all of the business logic you’d expect to find in an operations based system.  Focused on order execution and fulfillment.  It’s what you do with the order that matters, not taking the order.  Clearly we have to take orders!

WARNING:  If you are going to build your catering transactions online and drive them through your POS for order execution, you are going to fail miserably as your transaction volume increases.

Today’s Online & Mobile Ordering providers will either;

1.  Send the order to a fax

2.  Send the order to an IP printer

3.  Send the order to your POS

If you attempt to scale your restaurant’s catering business using any three of the above workflows, you are doomed to fail.

And so, what should you look for?

1.  An end to end solution set that facilitates mobile & online ordering, call centre ordering, billing, accounts receivable management, raw material forecasting, delivery logs, sales team management, invoicing, statements, collection notices, distribution calendars, deposits and so many other things that they cannot all possibly be listed here.

And so, where can you find this kind of solution?  Well, I’m biased but why not call your PepsiCo Foodservice Representative and ask them if they have a catering solution? I’m sure they will point you in the right direction!

Or, just call Mo Asgari (604-215-2163) at MonkeyMedia Software and he’ll show you what you need!  If you are a PespsiCo customer, make sure you ask him about the “PepsiCo Advantage” program for preferred pricing.

Oh, and to all the online and mobile ordering guys out there, if you’d like to send your online and mobile orders to Monkey’s system so restaurants can actually grow their catering operations, just give Mo a call.  He’s happy to chat about our API.

Let’s talk catering!


Tagged , , , , , ,

The Best Reward And Loyalty Programs for your Catering Customers


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!

Tagged , , , ,

Win a $1000 Education Scholarship – Casting Call for our Upcoming Restaurant Leadership Documentary


Are you passionate about working in the restaurant industry?

Tell us why your story should be featured in Back To Basics – A documentary project about the heart of the US restaurant industry

Submit a short video of yourself and tell us why you are the restaurant industry’s next leader.  If your story is selected, you will receive a $1000 education scholarship for further advancement in the restaurant industry.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,065 other followers

%d bloggers like this: