The Future of Food Delivery?

I hope you are all enjoying your memorial day weekend.  I’m just coming off of my time at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this year.  What a great show.  Fantastic optimism from the many people I spoke to.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how restaurants really need to create a world class delivery program in order to compete hard in the catering space.  So many restaurant operators I speak to really have a hard time with this piece of the business.  Drivers are difficult to recruit, vehicles can be expensive to maintain and insurance rates can be out of this world.

Then I saw this video from Mumbai……

And I started wondering what the future of catering delivery might look like in the years ahead.

Could this be in our future?  Really?

Let’s talk catering!

Smash your restaurant catering sales goals for 2014! – Attend January 30, 2014

Are you looking for help with setting, and sticking to, your restaurant catering sales goals for 2014? Are you looking to find new customers, and learn how to keep them coming back to you for all their catering needs?

Join the MMS Catering Institute™ with guest speakers from Moe’s Southwest Grill and Panda Restaurant Group for The Key To Restaurant Catering Sales Production. During this valuable webinar you will learn:

  • How to allocate your time to sales generating activities
  • How to aquire new restaurant catering customers
  • How to maintain customer relationships and leverage them for future business
  • Winning sales habits to drive your efforts
  • How to stay on track

Directed towards sales managers, operators, franchisees, and sales directors, attendees will learn how to structure their week, month, quarter and year ahead, understand which activities will gain the greatest return on investment, and know how to factor in non-sales activities so that they don’t become disruptive.

Calendar

Register now to join the MMS Catering Institute Team for this worthwhile webinar!

Webinar Details:

  • Date: January 30, 2014
  • Time: 3pm EST
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Register here

Let’s talk catering,

The MMS Catering Institute Team™

 

Your Restaurant’s POS System is not designed to scale catering sales – Another Perspective

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For many years I’ve been publicizing the sales, marketing and overall business case for layering a catering program on top of your existing multi-unit restaurant operation. I believe strongly in the year-over-year sales life that a solidly executed catering program can provide.

Yet in order to fully sell your catering services, and to capture those transactions at the point-of-purchase, you will need to apply the business logic and technology to keep this aspect of your business organized and streamlined.

While there are several items to discuss as they relate to how catering software fits into an existing IT infrastructure, I’d like to focus this conversation on the role that your POS systems plays in the catering ecosystem.

As restaurant operators, we are sunk into our POS systems as the core technology infrastructure for our restaurants.  Many restaurateurs believe that POS integration is a requirement when it comes to catering; however, in my nearly 20 years experience at MonkeyMedia Software, I can tell you confidently that POS integration is not required for the successful execution of the catering transaction.

Today’s point-of-sale systems have not been built with the right business logic needed to succeed in the catering market.  As you approach the business logic for catering execution, consider that your POS cannot manage the conversational ordering or the batch manufacturing and distribution requirements that are so integral to the successful catering transaction.  POS was designed for a retail transaction, not a business-to-business transaction.

Because catering orders are taken online and by telephone, conversational ordering systems are needed during the catering transaction so you can provide your catering customers with a consistent and predictable order experience.

From the beginning, you will need an order-entry system to generate invoices, statements, collection notices, and to manage accounts receivable. Naturally, the system must also extend into your production and distribution process. It’s important to understand that order fulfillment for a catering transaction, follows a different internal dynamic when it comes to making and delivering your products to your catering customers.  POS is designed to fulfill one single transaction at a time and when it comes to catering, we are facing a micro-batch production dynamic.

I am clear that POS systems are not geared to handle the subtleties of each catering transaction and that they do not have the right business logic to properly and effectively service the catering channel.  Catering is about relationships and to be successful, your sales teams need the appropriate customer relationship management tools that POS systems cannot provide.

In our world at MonkeyMedia Software, our products stand outside the POS and our customers use our technology to focus solely on the catering transaction.  POS is not required.

Now, as part of a successful enterprise deployment of catering software in your ecosystem, allow me to move the conversation to reporting.  We do need to continue to find ways to report catering data into the overall restaurant’s IT infrastructure in order to scale.  In many instances, we can look to an end of day catering process where we drive the day’s catering transaction data back into the POS ecosystem, not for the execution of orders, but simply to report data in real time to your management team.  This is where POS integration can play a role in the catering transaction.

Catering software: What to consider

The right software will ensure that the correct data is gathered from your catering client at the point of order capture. Additionally, once fully deployed, the catering software system should be fully integrated with your back-end reporting systems, where it makes sense. Your catering software system should be web- and enterprise-based, and should be standardized to easily share data across your entire organization. This will provide complete transparency into your catering business and will provide the organizational framework to grow catering sales while feeding customers where they live, work and play.

Let’s talk catering!

 

Restaurant Catering Advertising Wars: What’s the Right Selling Strategy?

The market for catering out of restaurants continues to look good going into 2014. At Monkeymedia Software and the Catering Institute, we are always looking at how the market is moving.

I found some interesting commercials/ads for catering from some of our restaurant community’s most trusted brands. As we can see, catering continues to move towards becoming part of the overall brand strategy for our restaurants.

Of the ads below, which one do you think is the most compelling to get catering prospects to pick up the phone and call or go online to place an order? Curious to know your thoughts…. Of course, I have my own, but I’ll save that for another post. Just vote for your favourite on the poll below;

1. Subway Catering TV Spot

2. Panera Bread: Meet a Catering Coordinator

3. Arby’s: Catering Commercial

4. Famous Dave’s Hand Crafted Catering

5. KFC Catering (Regional)

6. Boston Market: Holiday Catering

7. Corner Bakery Cafe Catering: Fresh. Flavorul. Delivered

8. Schlotzsky’s Catering

Improve Kitchen Production Efficiency to Grow Restaurant Catering Sales

Kitchen Design

When it comes to selling and marketing your catering products and services, reliability, predictability and scalability are three key elements required to ensure long term success. Until you thoughtfully design your restaurant catering production process, you will not be able to maximize the opportunity for catering out of your restaurants. Catering is a different business!

You must adopt a “manufacturing mentality” for your catering operations and how you engineer that dynamic into your kitchens directly relates to the execution success of your catering business. You must appreciate that an adjusted workflow will create new operational dynamics in your restaurants.

This is where planning and flexibility with regards to your catering production methodology becomes an important part of your overall strategic catering plan.  Your team must be prepared to consider “batch based” manufacturing and assembling of products, as well as be able to handle last-minute order adjustments.  Your catering policies and procedures must be well documented and publicized to deliver a smooth catering experience for both your store-level employees and your guests.   You have to follow some sound business logic when managing order dynamics for catering.  So, what you do in your kitchen really matters to your catering customers!

As catering sales grow in your restaurants, so too will the demands and competition for more resources. In my view, this is one of the biggest challenges facing our restaurant community. It is hard to teach people to respond to this kind of dynamic demand, while also filling their regular duties related to your daily restaurant operations.  To overcome this intellectual challenge, I’d recommend that you take the time to re-engineer the roles and responsibilities of your kitchen production teams to make room for your catering operation.   Start by putting a single point of contact in charge of all catering orders when it’s time to get product out the door!  There is more to consider, but you need leadership at all levels of the catering transaction!

If you design properly, you can use your existing labor at the restaurant level to help facilitate the production and assembly of catering orders.  If you look at the order flow, you will see that when we add the element of delivery and order distribution into the workflow, in fact, orders have to be out of the kitchen long before your guests consume your catering products.   As such, we need to adjust our human capital to begin producing products long before your regular restaurant day parts begin to impact operations.  The beautiful thing about that dynamic is that catering sales will yield higher margins because you are utilizing your labor far more efficiently.   Saying that, you will have to really look at each step of the order manufacturing and assembly process.  I am proposing, that there should be very little incremental cost in human capital as you increase catering sales.  Simply re-engineer the workflow of your current team members to take on some catering-related tasks on each shift.  In addition, consider that menu engineering can have a serious impact on creating more capacity for catering sales.  You don’t have to offer every item on your restaurant’s menu.  Catering can be a subset of products and a very specific experience.  Engineer a catering menu that takes pressure of your kitchen!

Depending on which day-parts for catering you are focused on, your production start and stop times will ramp up and down just before your retail business traffic hits your restaurants.  For example, if implemented successfully, your lunch catering orders will already be in transit to your customers, by the time the in-store lunch rush begins. This synergy will create more overall efficiency in your entire restaurant operations and will make better use of your assets. Ultimately, if you can engineer this dynamic properly, you will fundamentally shift the economics of your restaurants!

In addition to production start and stop times, the preparation process for receiving, inputting and preparing catering orders is something that is critical to appreciate.  As an example, your catering captains on each shift at your restaurants should begin preparing for catering orders the night before they are scheduled for delivery or pick up. As such, you will get a jump on tomorrow’s orders long before your kitchen closes for the day.  This makes the next day’s catering orders easier to execute as we prepare tomorrow’s raw materials for assembly and cooking.

Meanwhile, shelf-stable items such as chips, beverages and paper service should be gathered and prepared by the closing shift, thereby making better use of downtime during slow nights at the restaurant.  If it’s a busy night, experience tells me that the work still gets done and the numbers look even better.  People tend to work to the speed at which business is coming in the door!  We just have to teach them how.

During my time at Tony’s Deli, we had a single catering supervisor for each shift at the restaurant whose sole responsibility was to fold boxes, organize labels, prepare beverages and paper service for the next day’s catering orders. In addition, they also helped with the store’s closing procedures and cleaning that allowed us to operate our entire business far more efficiently.  This kind of workflow dynamic makes better use of your existing resources that might otherwise sit idle between day parts, and is another critical part of the efficiency equation!

If you have planned and executed well, on the day of catering production and distribution, your kitchen team’s energy should go into the assembly and packaging step to fill orders and not all the tasks that should have been pre-prepped earlier in the process when time was not as critical.

There is more to discuss here.  However, I have learned that we can design and implement a more thoughtful workflow in our kitchens when it comes to executing restaurant-catering orders.

Let’s talk catering!

 

Restaurant Catering Sales Compensation? Ask Jeffrey Gitomer!

As you all know, I am always looking for content specific to restaurant catering at the MMS Catering Institute.  Then I found this…. Jeffrey Gitomer addressing a catering sales manager’s question about compensation….  I’ll post it here for your consideration…

I can think of some more ideas.  Can you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

 

A Restaurant Catering Rewards & Loyalty Program – Meet the Guys at Punchh!

I am so excited about the restaurant catering rewards & loyalty program we are working on with the fantastic team at Punchh!

What I love most about the work I get to do at MonkeyMedia Software and the MMS Catering Institute is the innovation.  We are always working on new things.

The team at Punchh recently became “Restaurant Catering Certified” by my team at the MMS Catering Institute.  They took advantage of our vendor certification program which really allows us to align the business strategy of catering out of restaurants.  It also helps us to agree on a standard and language so that when we work on customers together, we say and do the right things.

The program we are designing is going to be the first of its kind.  One that the industry has not seen before and one that is very thoughtful and specific to the restaurant catering transaction.

After all, it’s all about driving new and incremental sales when it comes to catering out of restaurants.  If you are interested in learning more about the solution, just send me a note.  I’ll connect you with the right people at Punchh!Cusomer Loyalty