Corner Bakery Moves System-Wide Catering Operations into the Cloud

Hi There,

I hope this note finds you well.  My team at the MonkeyGroup  continues to work with amazing foodservice operators to help them grow sales and increase profits with Takeout, Delivery & Catering.

We are especially proud of this announcement today as Corner Bakery is one of the gold standard brands when it comes to catering.  The strategy is deep in their culture and 25-30% of their sales are catering.

And so, I will enjoy this news today, and I hope you will too!

Check out the announcement here.

If you are looking to accelerate your off premise sales, reach out to us.

What I learned about restaurant delivery from Silicon Valley -Take control of your restaurant operations today!

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What an interesting week it has been for me!  A few days ago, I marked my 20th anniversary in the foodservice industry.  I’ve loved every year of it.  I love the work we are doing in this incredible industry.  My team is focused, powerful and winning.  Our customers are happy and we still “jump to the pump” for our customers.  We win on service.  We are a passionate group of people and our strategies are making our customers more money.

Takeout, Delivery and Catering is our niche, and we are very good at it.  I am very proud of my team today.

In 1996, when I became a partner at Tony’s Deli & Catering Company, I had no idea that I’d be meeting with the most interesting and innovative technology companies in Silicon Valley some 20 years later.  As we all know, these technology companies are innovating marketplaces for consumers to order from their favourite restaurants, (UBER, Postmates, Amazon, Google, Yelp), and these companies are also working on solutions for solving the logistics challenges of delivery for restaurants.  Thing is, with this kind of change, it’s bound to be painful.  Why?

Because all this technology is completely disconnected from a restaurants off-premise operations.  Now, before you say that’s easy to solve for by yourselves, you’d better stop.  It’s not easy at all.

That’s what inspired this blog post today.  Because my journey of 20 years in foodservice has not been easy.  It’s been arduous, painful, slow, uphill the whole way.  I’ve been so lucky just to have the support of incredible people to allow me to continue on this quest to help restaurant companies conquer the takeout, delivery and catering channels.  And now, we are just getting going.

We have an end-to-end business solution that provides our industry with the business framework, strategy, curriculum, training, certification and software that it needs to take control of off-premise restaurant operations.  It’s what we are.

With more than 6000 restaurants using our software, and the world’s largest brands implementing the strategies outlined in our business framework, our industry is finally beginning to understand what we are doing.  And its amazing!   Our customers use our ideas and our tools to execute a full 360 degree view of their takeout, delivery & catering operations.  What’s even more beautiful, is that through our API, our technology is open to be able to accept order from all other order channels.

This gives our customers all the “plumbing” that they need to guarantee flawless execution of all orders.

Restaurant operators are faced with a barrage of order channels in today’s environment and what’s even making it more complicated, is that the markets for services continues to segment.  So, as consumers become more demanding and want specialization, and the markets become more competitive, only restaurant operators that are able to offer new consumer solutions to their brand loyalists are going to win.  So, where takeout and catering begin and end will become more and more important every day.  For everyone.

Trust me, I know.   The restaurants I am visiting these days sometimes have to up to 9 different order channels and they are all showing up on tablets in the back of the restaurant.  What’s even worse, is that takeout orders and catering orders are all lumped together.  It’s a mess. The operations are disconnected from these orders, and this is where it’s gets even more complicated.  These companies are all running towards integrations with POS and other systems, but it won’t work.

And so, you might ask yourself why these technology companies are interested in the work we are doing at MonkeyMedia Software, The Catering Institute and Catering Insights?

These companies are beginning to understand that in order for this system to get more efficient and for these partnerships to work, the operators need systems  and processes that allow them to scale and provide a consistent, reliable and predictable experience.  That is the only way that these companies will win.  Only if restaurants win.  Because then, customers are happy.  Flawless execution is key.

And so today I am encouraged by what I see.   The energy, enthusiasm and investment pouring into takeout, delivery and catering is super exciting for me!

My team is more focused then ever.  The business framework of the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Takeout, Delivery & Catering is shifting the perspective of not only operators, but also supply chain partners that really want to appreciate the business strategy and strengthen their understanding of what restaurant operators are going through.

Becoming true partners.  And so, I am honoured that these companies want to work with our organization to further improve the industry.  To benefit from our ideas, our concepts and most importantly our perspective.

My organization has been focused on a single idea for 20 years!  As a restaurant operator, you must first understand your business strategy before you unleash the digital ordering channels that are going to keep on growing.  This strategy lays deep in the foundation of your brand, and it must be core to the vision.  It is directly connected to your product offerings and the subtleties of daily behaviours of your people.  It touches every part of your business.

Catering needs to be core to your DNA, and then takeout will get easier.

From there, you must invest in a framework and only then, you must invest in an IT stack that allows you to have best of breed solutions for all parts of your technology ecosystem.

And so, I am proud today to be standing in Silicon Valley with a life’s worth of work which is only now being appreciated by so many very smart people that are investing heavily into takeout, delivery and catering.

They understand that restaurants need the strategy of the 5 Pillars as well as an IT stack that allows them to handle the order flow and business logic of ALL digital channels.

This is what we have become.  A platform for our industry to execute takeout, delivery and catering orders at scale.

I could not have dreamed this up.  It happened only because our customers are winning with these ideas and tools.

Give me a call or shoot me an email.  I’d be happy to explain more.

 

 

Erle’s Top 13 Reasons Why a Restaurant Catering Operation Fails

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Erle Dardick, CEO & Founder of the Catering Institute and MonkeyMedia Software

I was looking at some old files today and then I found this fun image that my friend Mike Tyler made for me a few years ago!  Those were from the days long before the Catering Institute!  Life is so much different today…. As the Catering Institute continues to evolve, so do I!

Today at the institute, we have successfully trained more than 2000 satisfied foodservice students using our various classes and curriculum.  We have also had tens of thousands of restaurateurs download our various resources, articles, essays and webinars.  Check out this video to see how much fun we have during our training sessions.

Much of my work these days in our software division,  MonkeyMedia Software ,is to remind and teach our team to remain true to the key principles that we have documented using the business framework of the ‘5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering‘.

The way I see it, our software division has a core client responsibility.  They must use the 89 characteristics of the 5 Pillars to benchmark the operations.   (Call me at 604-831-7422 if you’d like to discuss the characteristics).  Using our scoring systems allows the group to decide as to whether or not a restaurant company is ready to implement our world class technology into restaurant operations.  We have so much experience now to know that  companies that are trying to implement sophisticated technology on top of poor business processes, are not suited for a successful implementation.  They must score high on the 89 characteristics that we have documented to succeed with software implementation.

And so of course the story goes.  It is the 89 characteristics that the Catering Institute will to continue to work on…..

And so, this leads me to today’s list of reasons why I believe off-premise programs fail.  I’m sure there are dozens more that we could add.  Here goes…..

1.  Lack of a documented takeout, delivery & catering strategy 

2.  Inability to establish standard operating procedures.  Management of off-premise business by “seat of the pants”

3.  Frequent critical incidents “putting out fires is common practice”

4.  No focus on takeout, delivery & catering as its own business unit

5.  Lack of investment

6.  Lack of  leadership and catering business experience

7.  No Separation of Menu Items between takeout and catering

8.  No differentiation in packaging between takeout and catering

9.  Too many service gaps

10.  Lack of catering authenticity

11.  Lack of management commitment to catering

12.  Lack of operational evaluation tools

13.  Inability to start entrepreneurial businesses 

Want to grow your catering sales? Ask Your PepsiCo Sales Representative How!

PepsiCo Portfolio

For the last 18 years I have been helping restaurants to grow off-premise sales through MonkeyMedia Software , The Catering Institute and Catering Insights.  I am so lucky to do the work that I do.

My passion for this space came out of my own deli in Vancouver, BC where I spent many years as an owner operator.  I experienced success in providing more takeout, delivery & catering to my customers and ended up developing Monkey, The # 1 Cloud Platform for Takeout, Delivery & Catering.  Today we support more than 5000 restaurants in North America and we are growing nicely!

In addition to our software, The Catering Institute continues to develop fantastic curriculum to help restaurants implement the strategy of the 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Catering.  We are deeply committed to education in the off-premise space and we are so excited about what we are seeing happen with catering from our industry’s most important suppliers!

Allow me to explain.

To me, catering out of restaurants is going through the same market dynamics that drive thru did in the 1970’s.  Here is what happened:

1.  Markets shifted and innovation by restaurateurs came first.  It was just an idea.

2.  Technology caught up and made it easier for restaurateurs to grow drive thru operations.

3.  The largest supply chain companies in the world got behind the innovations and investments and pushed towards helping our community to grow more sales and profits in this channel.

These three key factors made it easier for restaurant companies to grow drive thru sales and the more we prevailed, the more consumers rewarded us with their business.

Fast forward to 2015.  It’s happening again!  But this time, the sales channel is catering!

The same dynamics are happening with the entire off-premise business opportunity, especially with Catering.

1.  Restaurants have been trying to cater for years.  Early innovation.

2.  Technology (like ours) is helping to make it easier to cater.

3.  Supply chain Partners are investing and helping

And so, as I sit here today contemplating why the largest supply chain companies in the world need to help our community, I call your attention to the great work that PepsiCo Foodservice is doing in the restaurant space.

You see, they are not only innovating fantastic products under their portfolio for takeout, delivery & catering, but in fact, they are diving deep into helping restaurant operators with their overall off-premise business strategy.  They are investing resources into helping their customers do more takeout, delivery & catering.

To me, this is what sets companies like PepsiCo apart from their competitors.  They are forward thinking and not just focused on selling more of their products to their customers.  They are deeply engaged in learning and completely focused on helping their customers to grow sales and increase profits by educating them to become experts at feeding their customers where they Live, Work & Play!

Want to grow your catering sales?  Call your PepsiCo Sales Representative today and ask them how!

Let’s talk catering!

 

 

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.

 

For Restaurant Catering To Succeed, We need Executive Alignment

 

Let’s Talk Catering!

imagesHere at the Catering Institute and MonkeyMedia Software, we work with the most amazing restaurant companies in America.  I am always dissecting new ways of doing things, and always looking at ways of how to make catering work in restaurants.  After all, a restaurant is a complex manufacturing plant!  Adding more revenue channels is complicated.

The single most important lesson I have learned is that we need executive alignment to make catering work inside these complex operations.  It requires commitment.

So, here are 5 things to think about as you consider growing catering sales.

1.  Slow Down – We have to take the time to understand the 360 degree strategy of takeout, delivery and catering.  They are all closely related.  They are interdependent on each other.

2.  Plan – We have to take the time to make a proper plan.  We ALL need to do a better job at that.  Planning is hard for everyone.

3.  Menu Differentiation – We need to focus on markets.  The market for these services is different from our current restaurant products and services.

4.  Sales – We have to become very active in our selling process.  It needs to become part of our culture at all touch points of our companies.

5.  Patience – All great things take time.  Growing catering out of our restaurants is a major commitment and it will take investment and time.

Of course, I could make a list of a hundred more ideas… just call me at 604-831-7422 if you want to chat more.

I am living and breathing this material all day long!

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!