Is restaurant catering “killing the catering” industry? – A Conversation on LinkedIn

World on shoulders

I feel like I have the world on my shoulders!  

I posted a recent blog in a group on LinkedIn.  The title of the post was “How restaurant catering is changing the balance sheet of America”.

Well, here is what one group member posted about a day later.  From a caterer.  A very upset caterer!

“For the companies that are strictly off premises caterers – Restaurant Catering is a nightmare for us – their chefs have no idea how to cater, just like I have no idea how to run a restaurant. Everytime a client tells me about a disaster, it was from a restaurant trying to be a caterer. STOP YOU ARE KILLING OUR INDUSTRY!!”

– Anonymous LinkedIn Caterer

If you are interested in my responses and the conversation that ensued, check out this link here.

I am curious to hear your thoughts?  Do you think that restaurant catering is killing the catering industry?  

As a restaurateur, this comment makes me want to do catering even more!!  How about you?

Restaurant Catering Workshop Filling up – Chicago, June 6, 2013



Our MMS Catering Institute’s workshops series sure are popular!  Book your spot today and energize your catering sales!

We will have over 100 of our restaurant industry’s best catering sales managers in attendance.  We have a wonderful day planned.  Here is what you can expect to learn:

  • Rockstar Canvassing and Lead Generation Techniques
  • Time tested Consultative Selling Strategies
  • Rock Solid Cold Calling Techniques
  • How to identify different kinds of restaurant catering consumers and the top 10 things that motivate them to buy
  • Great ideas on how to organize and run effective sales meetings for your catering sales teams
  • Transparency into the “day in the life” of a successful catering sales manager

This workshop is open to all members of the restaurant industry and will be very focused on increasing incremental catering sales for your restaurant brand.

We do have limited space, so please reserve your spot today.  The cost is $249.00 per attendee, and if your company has more than 4 attendees, there is a group discount available.

Register today by calling us at  1-877-6-MONKEY ext. 127 or email us at

Hope to see you in Chicago!


Save The Date June 6,2013 – Chicago Restaurant Catering Workshop


Join the MMS Catering Institute TM Team for a one-day Catering Sales Management Certification (CSM) workshop on June 6th, 2013 in beautiful Downtown Chicago. This workshop is open to restaurant executives and management teams looking to develop their catering programs and drive real results through improved operations and increased sales.

The CSM course was developed to educate and engage your catering leadership team on managing successful catering operations. This workshop will outline key Catering Sales Management initiatives to realize maximum sales potential.

Curriculum will focus on:page1image11520

Canvassing and Lead Generation • Consultative Selling Techniques
• Effective Cold Calling Tactics

• Buyer Types and Motives for Purchasing

• Sales Meetings that Make Sense
• A Day in the Life of a Catering Sales Manager

This workshop will be filled with representatives from many different restaurant brands and will offer a unique opportunity to learn, participate in real world practice scenarios and network with fellow industry members during our networking lunch.

Date: Thursday, June 6th, 2013
Place and Time: TBA, (Downtown Chicago)
Cost: $249.95* each for up to 3 attendees ($199.95* for 4 or more from the same company)

Register for this invaluable workshop, and send an email to










Contact Tracy Avolio, Sr. Catering Analyst at the Catering Institute.
Phone: 1-877-6-MONKEY ext. 127 | Email:

To learn more about the services, certification, workshops and resources offered by the Catering Institute, or to request a catering assessment for your restaurant, please contact us via phone or email.

Let’s talk catering.

* Course materials and a catered lunch will be provided. Travel expenses not included.



The Catering Kid – How to Succeed in Catering

Are we ever having fun with Video these days at MonkeyMedia Software.  The Catering Kid is Back!  You can now follow him here on Twitter! Like him, catering is young.  He’s got some great advice on what you need to think about to be successful at feeding your customers where they Live, Work & Play!

Let me know if you enjoy the video.  Watch for the Catering Kid’s weekly episodes!


Sitting in a Quiet Catering Space – An Invitation to Chat

Well, it’s Friday today.  It’s been another busy week and I feel like I am just coming up for air.  So, this got me thinking.  If it’s too noisy, I just can’t hear anything at all.  I can’t focus.  So, I took some quiet time for myself to think about my own business at MonkeyMedia Software.  So, as I did that, it gave me an idea.  Here it is.

I invite you to sit with me quietly in your brand’s ‘catering space. It begins in our imaginations.  No office noise, no interruptions.

Imagine what the catering channel can do for your business, both in the immediate sense and in the long term. Focus on how we get your brand to achieve up to $1,000 per day in incremental catering sales, for each one of your stores that does catering, in locations where catering makes sense. So, if you have 100 restaurants, I’d like to chat with you about an opportunity that is worth $100,000 per day, Monday to Friday.  Don’t ask me, just ask Willy and Brenda!

Don’t get stuck on the ‘why nots’ at this point and time. There is time later to address that.

In this quiet space, I want to discuss the subtleties and potential pitfalls of what you might expect to come across as you scale these ideas throughout your existing infrastructure.

Once you feel that you can imagine the big-picture opportunity for your brand, ignoring the details of how for the moment, we can discuss the subtleties and considerations, and make the strategic decision of whether or not your brand should service the catering revenue channel.

Once you begin to get comfortable with the potential of the concept, you will be in a position to make the right decision for your brand as well as understand the commitment required for you to succeed in this market.

Ok… back to all the noise now… phones ringing, problems with orders, customers complaining, marketing campaigns.

If you’d like to take some time with me to discuss your brand’s catering strategy, just reach out and call.  But, let’s make some quiet space to really focus in on the opportunity.

My cell is 604-831-7422.  Call anytime!  Enjoy your weekend!

Order Entry is the frontline when it comes to Catering! – Meet Jason Schlenker

Meet Jason Schlenker.  An expert at Call Centre Operations.  I just had a great opportunity to spend some time with Jason and his team in Miami, and everything I saw reaffirmed what I previously wrote in my book, Get Catering and Grow Sales!.

Jason’s call center company (Inktel) will be the first “Get Catering and Grow Sales!” Certified Call Centre in the world!  

Our Professional Services Team at MonkeyMedia Software, will be providing Jason’s team with our restaurant catering bootcamps this fall on how to be great restaurant caterers and we will be certifying his people in the art of catering! I am sure we are going to see his call agents get better at their jobs, which will result in higher sales for his restaurant customers!


Jason is a talented man.  You can watch Jason win the 2009 Employee of the Year at Inktel.  Super nice Guy.

In my book, I stated that:

“The order entry process is grossly misunderstood in our community. The order entry experience is one of the single most important parts of the catering order-to-cash cycle.

This is the first point of contact for your catering transactions and this is where the customer experiences the service level your brand.  You MUST greet them with a SMILE!  This is also the place where the client is reaching out to your brand for help with this stress-driven catering transaction in order to fulfill their needs for off premise services.

Working with multi-unit operators, I often find this is a major point of confusion and internal debate. Many operators have set themselves up to take orders at the store level only.  Whenever I see this, I try and argue for a new perspective.

While taking orders at the store can be one strategy, you must consider the impact on your system’s operations by taking this path. It can be done right, however, you will have to understand the impact of teaching hundreds of team members in your organization to take orders, assuming you have many stores.

My perspective on this is that I believe that the distributed order entry process at the store level makes it more difficult for your unit operators to properly execute and maintain a proper and predictable catering experience both internally for your team members as well as externally for your customers.

For example, if  you have 100 stores and you allow for catering orders to be placed at the store level, you may find training more than 100 order takers not only a challenging task, but wrought with risk for your brand.  Furthermore, you will require more than one order taker per store, and as such, the results can be disastrous. To be successful in conversational ordering, it might be a better strategy to create a role for internal (or outsourced) order entry specialists depending on the size and scope of your organization.

There is a strong argument to be made that training specialists to be responsible for catering orders and for maintaining and building customer relationships over the phone will yield in higher sales, more accuracy and a better service experience for your brand.

Many operators I speak to get confused on this issue.  The key issue here is that in our minds, we  must separate out the ‘selling process of catering’ from the ‘service process of catering.’  ‘Selling’ your catering services needs to be done at the neighborhood level so that you can reach out and touch your customers.  ‘Serving’ your customers’ needs to be approached with what is most efficient and profitable which is in the best interest of the overall catering experience.

When I refer to a centralized point of contact for order entry, I believe it can be implemented in various forms, depending on the structure of your organization. There is a discussion to be had around centralized vs. decentralized strategies for order entry.

You will need to make policy and procedure decisions regarding order entry specific to your own brand circumstances. A lot of these catering concepts will depend on your current system structure such as ‘corporate’ vs. ‘franchised’ structures and the willingness of brand owners to take control of the service experience.”

Call Jason if you have any questions!  He’ll explain the ROI.  You can call Jason directly at (305) 523-1129, but make sure you tell him how proud you are that his company is making such an incredible commitment to our wonderful and fantastic restaurant industry, by recognizing the level of professionalism that his people need to reach to be true experts in the off premise catering business for our restaurant community!

We are very proud at MonkeyMedia Software to have these wonderful partners who can help our customers, feed their customers where they LIVE, WORK & PLAY!

Crank catering in the last 4 months of 2012


Watch our “Catering Kid” Video

I am celebrating today!  We have printed and distributed more than 5000 copies of my book.  We’ve raised more than $10,000 for Share Our Strength in the Process.  Something to be proud of!

I thought I’d include a short excerpt for you as we all focus on ramping up our operations for the last 4 months of 2012.  There are great catering months ahead!

Here is an excerpt from my book (page 22), Get Catering and Grow Sales! – A Strategic Perspective For The Mulit-Unit Restaurant Executive

“As you read on, consider the evolution of our industry over the last century. In the beginning, there were independent operators. This was followed by expansion of some independents into multi-­‐unit operators. Then came the expansion of the corporate build-­‐out model. Once the business logic proved out and systems and technology caught up, our industry moved on to expansion through franchising. As this model gained traction, the technology improved and operators became more sophisticated.

Consider the revenue channel of drive-­‐thru for the QSR segment over the last several decades. In order to shift that consumer behavior, it required innovation and awareness, retooling as operators for guaranteed service execution, and new innovation and investment in technology. Just ask guys like Tom Feltenstein and Ed Rensi. They were there. They invented it. There was no drive-­‐thru channel before that. All these years later, drive-­‐thru revenue represents a lion’s share of our community’s revenues. Nobody could have predicted that. The same thing happened with breakfast under their management. But, through their great thought leadership it became a standard for many brands. And so, our industry grew.

I want to bring to your attention that in Get Catering and Grow Sales! I propose that catering is the next natural top-­‐line growth channel for our multi-­‐unit restaurant industry.”

If you’d like to order some copies of my book for your organization, or if you are a supplier to the restaurant industry and would like to provide a great gift to your customers, order copies today.  All the net proceeds go to Share Our Strength.

Order Copies Here