Category Archives: Catering Operations

The 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering: A New Commitment for 2015

Get Catering and Grow Sales Books going out the door.

Get Catering and Grow Sales Books going out the door.

It’s been almost four years since I wrote my book, Get Catering and Grow Sales: A strategic perspective for the multi-unit restaurant executive.

I remember how much I disliked it after I wrote it!  I thought to myself that I could have done so much better.  If not for one of my team members at MonkeyMedia Software who grabbed the manuscript and hired an editor to help finish it, I never would have published it.  It’s amazing how we are always hardest on ourselves.  Our own worst critic!

To my good fortune, turns out that the book is pretty popular with the restaurant community.  10,000 copies in print and distributed is not a bad run.

As we begin 2015, I am reflecting on what it is that I need to focus on this year.  So much is going on, and business is brisk both at MonkeyMedia Software, the Catering Institute and our new media division, Catering Insights.  These divisions are all focused on catering and off-premise sales in our foodservice community.  There is so much for all of us to learn in this part of the restaurant business.  I am committed to try and provide more leadership in this area as best I can.

Since writing the book, I have continued to develop an organizational framework that I call the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant CateringTM.  This framework is meant to provide a working model for restaurant brands to use as a compass while considering their takeout, delivery and catering business strategies.  I have come to learn that without these pillars, there is little hope for our community to succeed in this business channel.

And so, 2015 is the year that I will renew my commitment to the restaurant community to further develop the concepts of the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant CateringTM.  I plan on writing more and making videos to help educate our community on these concepts.

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Ask your Team for Help During This Busy Catering Season

help

This is my 18th Holiday Season focused on takeout, delivery and catering at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.  Even with all this experience behind me, I still get worked up when I’m helping in the kitchen, answering incoming calls and closing all the holiday business that I was hoping to write.  Why does everyone wait until the last minute to order their holiday meals!!

I’ve learned that it’s always been this way.  I have also learned that corporate catering sales only come in 48 weeks per year, and that the busy ramp up time between now and December 25th is temporary.  But boy, it is busy!  It can really be stressful, no matter how prepared you might be.

I have tried for years to prepare better, plan better and make sure that I am ready for the stress and anxiety associated with flawless execution at this time.  Even so, here is the one lesson that I have learned that is the most valuable of all.  And that is…..

Ask your team to help you!  You need them.  Do what it takes.  Buy them a cup of coffee.  Take them out for a meal.  Give them a hand written card.  Beg if you have to.  Shed tears if you must.  Scream, shout or just stand on your head.  You cannot do it alone.  So, learn how to ask for help!

Successful catering during this busy season requires support from your whole team.  Make sure you take the time out to tell them, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.  Do it today!  Your customers will thank you for it.

Let’s talk catering!

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Our community is confused about restaurant takeout & catering – Segment Markets

blog-marketsegment1-150110I’m flying at 35,000 feet enjoying the modern miracle of Wifi on airplanes. I just spent the last week of my life visiting restaurant companies in the Northeast corner of the US.  I feel honoured to be called upon by some of the biggest restaurant companies in the world to help them with their catering and off premise business operations.  I am very lucky to do the work that comes with my job as Founder & CEO at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.

I have been thinking deeply about catering & takeout out of restaurants for the last two decades.  I’ve written about it, made videos about it, presented at conferences about it and have been evangelizing to our community that our consumers will continue to demand services for our restaurant brands  where they Live, Work & Play.  The off premise business opportunity for restaurants will continue to grow and increase in complexity.

In my world, I see complex manufacturing dynamics in all of the restaurants I spend time in.  The way I see it, when it comes to feeding our customers where they Live, Work and Play, there are only two core service channels. (Takeout and Catering).

Now, to be clear, what I am proposing is a framework for every restaurant to consider when it comes to segmenting it’s markets, so that our operations can adapt to the complexity of order entry, conversation, manufacturing and distribution.  Depending on the service channel for off-premise restaurant services & products, our operations will react and behave differently based on the occasion and order dynamics.  Saying that, here’s the rub…. Our customers are not experts!  We are!  The look to us to tell them what to order when.  And so, we will only succeed with flawless execution and our customers expect us to know our business better than them.  And so, as experts, we have to recommend the right things, for the right occasion, every single time.

There is a lot to discuss here, and I am going to self publish and essay on this topic where it will be available at the Catering Institute, because I think this is the single biggest challenge that our restaurant community faces when it comes to maximizing transaction volume for our off-premise sales opportunities.

Here is what I want to say…… Language matters!  And it matters a lot.  If our operations are unclear on how to direct our guests based on their service demand and feeding occasion, then can you imagine how confused our guests are going to be when they place their orders?  I can tell you that serving multiple markets out of a single restaurant is absolutely daunting.  But, it’s also absolutely possible!

So, as you open the doors to your restaurant(s) tomorrow, I want you to think about segmenting your takeout and catering opportunities based on the market and consumer demand for more products & services for your brand.

Dine In, Takeout, Delivery, Curbside, Catering, Event Catering, Food Trucks, Online Ordering, and Group Ordering are all examples of market segmentations and the use of language.  There are probably 100’s more that we have not thought about yet!  Now you can see the complexity here!  To many things going on at once, and not enough team members inside our organizations that understand the dynamics.  This lack of understanding leads to chaos inside our organizations.  We have to work on this together.

To me, it’s about feeding your customers where they Live, Work & Play.  It’s about getting your customers to spend more money with your brand more often.  It’s about making your brand loyalists aware of these horizontal services and getting them to think of you at the right time, for the right occasion.

Takeout and Catering are closely related cousins.  Both can be available for pickup or delivery.  Both of these order types can be placed online, through mobile devices, through kiosks, in-store or on the telephone.

So, I ask you, how are you segmenting those services in your restaurants and what are the best practices for the order to cash cycle of each type of transaction?  I can tell you, if you don’t frame the conversation properly for your customers, they are going to walk away with a negative experience.

From what I see every single day in the field, few brands, if any are doing a good job at explaining this to their internal teams or to their customers.  And so, the result is confusing and less than stellar.

Until we take the time to properly segment our markets, and develop language internally and externally that makes sense, we will continue to make it hard on ourselves.

I am going to spend some time thinking more about what I can do to help our community frame this dynamic properly so that we can set ourselves up for success and grow the off-premise sales channel for restaurants.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.

 

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