Catering Treats and Snacks on the Boardroom Table – Some Thoughts




Several months ago I was invited to speak about catering at the global franchise convention for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. It was an eye opening experience; not only is the culture of this organization unique but in fact, the off-premise catering opportunity might just be the largest growth opportunity that the scoop shops have.


I learned an incredible amount about the “scoop shop” business and many insights flooded my thoughts specific to the catering opportunity that exists within the segment of frozen and non-frozen treats.


The treat segment, both frozen and non-frozen, has it’s own specific opportunity when it comes to catering to America‘s boardrooms and other catering venues. Unlike the demand for catering breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails, the treat segment stands on its own.


Here are a few reasons that come to mind:


1. There is a substantial catering opportunity that lies ahead for treats on the boardroom table. Restaurateurs that have a strong “snack” business have a real opportunity to complement the services of existing catering day-parts. Bringing a frozen treat service into the office in the middle of the day is a real opportunity to celebrate something special in the workplace. The selling proposition for these services is completely different than trying to fill the demand for a traditional catering daypart. Consumers will purchase these services for different reasons.


2. As consumers consider their options for feeding groups where they live, work and play, there is an opportunity to meet their requirements with foregoing a major meal and just treating their guests to a “treat or snack.” Consumers experience a reduced spend, in this case, but still meet their objectives of taking care of their guests. The message is similar as regular catering, but the budget is smaller. That’s a win for restaurateurs with a strong snack service.


3. For those restaurateurs that have a proprietary “treat or snack” profile, there is an opportunity to wholesale services out to all the other restaurant brands and institutional caterers that are focused on major dayparts. Imagine a day where a well know brand brings in a well known ice cream brand as they negotiate a contract. This wholesale catering opportunity is unique to the treat segment. Imagine that other food purveyors can sell your catering services into the client for you!


4. Catering treats allows for further market segmentation as it relates to off-premise sales. Because the products in the treat segment are so focused and specific, programs can be developed for community events, private parties and office functions. In each case, menu and service will drive the differentiation. Because of the proprietary nature of the products, you can really focus on a simple, repeatable and scalable execution process.


5. As consumers consider their catering options, bringing in a treat for guests telegraphs a positive message. It’s clearly tied to a celebration and guests will always leave feeling great about being treated. Think about how you felt when your mom and dad took you to the local scoop shop for an ice cream! This kind of consumption dynamic leads to high emotional connection with guests and as such, the cycle of repeat business and referrals will be higher than normal daypart catering.


6. Catering treats and snacks is complementary to feeding guests breakfast, lunch and dinner. It complements the swells of meal times and therefore, if your product and service is proprietary, your company can charge a premium for a great experience, sometimes in between meals.


For brands such as Dairy Queen, Ben & Jerry’s, Menchie’s, Yougurtland, Marble Slab Creamery and Cold Stone Creamery, developing a catering and off-premise consumer experience is a wonderful opportunity to help smooth out the typical seasonality that lives deep in their operational DNA.


No doubt, there are many more insights that we can discuss as a community. Let’s chat about it over a scoop of Cherry Garcia!





The Catering Opportunity – Watch the Treat Segment in the months ahead!

English: Ben Greenfield and Jerry Cohen, found...

In my own work at MonkeyMedia Software, I am fascinated by the endless opportunities presented to our multi-unit restaurant community when it comes to catering.  These days, no matter where my travels take me, every restaurant category is exploring the off-premise catering opportunity.  Pizza, Sandwiches, Salads, Sushi, Pasta, Chicken, Hamburgers, Tacos, Burritos and even Steak!  Yes, steak.

While all of these segments are exciting, to me, it’s the treat segment that really has incredible upside.  Why?

Because bringing treats in to feed a group of people serves a different purpose and market than bringing in services for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  A totally different reason to buy!  If you really want to bring smiles to the faces of your guests, what better than bringing them a treat!

Check out this video I found for Ben and Jerry’s Catering.  No wonder their catering services are growing faster than a speeding bullet!

So, this got me thinking!  If it works for ice cream, then it works for frozen yogurt, popcorn, cookies, coffee and so on.  And as I mentioned, it’s not just about feeding people, like when our guests need to cater meals.  No.  It’s bigger than that!

It’s about making people feel good.  It’s about cheering employees up after a tough quarter or celebrating something special like a new contract.  It’s about bringing smiles into someone’s day.  It’s about making the day special, for some reason.  It’s a clear signal to your guests that they are worthy of a treat!  Just like when you were a child.  Remember when Mom and Dad took you for an ice cream?  Emotional connection.  That’s what its about.  Yes, emotional connection.  Making memories.  Why?  Because it’s a treat!

Here’s the other thing I really like about the catering opportunity for the snack/treat segment.   If we are smart (and we are), we will leverage our brands in this segment, and look at “co-branding” our services with brands that fill the meal segment when it comes to catering.  So, imagine a day where our community brands co-exist as an ecosystem of caterers.  We actually bring each other into the catering contract. Isn’t that what caterers do?  They often sub-contract services.  So, why wouldn’t we?

Wouldn’t it be something to see when, say a brand like Ruby Tuesday, not only sells it’s own catering services, but in fact, brings in Ben and Jerry’s to complement the meal?  Now that’s opportunity!  Nowhere to go but up.  Nowhere to go but BIG!  Let’s work together to find new and exciting ways to bring our catering services to market.  Together, we stand united!

Let’s talk catering!

Culture trumps Strategy! – What I learned from Ben & Jerry’s

Well, I’m back in Vancouver after what has been an amazing road trip. Austin, Dallas and Vegas. The whole trip was fantastic!

I love working in the field with MonkeyMedia Software’s customers, especially with the franchisees and their employees. I enjoy working on the front line with customers, and I especially love helping our young restaurant community members to “up their game” in the world of catering. Lucky for me, I now have this wonderful opportunity to really do the work I love!

I was invited to speak at the Ben & Jerry’s Global Franchisee Meeting 2013 about catering and off-premise for their brand. I’d like to share with you what I learned as I continue on this very personal journey. My visit with the Ben & Jerry’s family was very special, completely unique and transformative in many ways.

Ben, Erle and Jerry.
Ben, Erle and Jerry.

Let me just say that what I learned the most from this experience is that culture trumps strategy every single time. You see, Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, a large multi-national conglomerate with business interests all over the globe. But no matter, as part of their mission statement, activism is part of the plan for B&J. They have a corporate campaign running called “Get the dough out of politics“.

It’s been that way since the beginning.

So, you can imagine how nervous a multi-national conglomerate can get when their brand ambassadors push the limits of the campaign by standing up for something like this… Check out Ben and Jerry’s Talk about creative! Watch this video to learn more about their current crusade. It’s bold and brave, that’s for sure. I admire them for their conviction.

Remember, this video below is not endorsed by the company. It is a personal project close to Ben Cohen’s heart. Nothing to do with the company!

As I immersed myself into the franchisee system, I was greeted with open arms, a high level of trust and a willingness to share and learn. And so, I made sure I spent time trying to understand their ways. I joined in on their activities, attended their education sessions and spent time speaking to their group about catering and the work that MonkeyMedia Software is doing to help our customers grow the off premise sales channel.

This was truly a unique life experience. You see, even though they are owned by such a large corporation, they have gone a long way to make sure that they remain responsible social citizens, as Ben and Jerry have always done. They are serious about their ongoing activism and their business culture is one of the most unique that I may have ever experienced.

I met wonderful, smart, hardworking and honest people throughout all levels of their organization. I am impressed by their sense of who they are, what they stand for and the responsibility that they take to make a difference in their communities that they serve. Independence lives strong and the culture runs deep in their DNA. The have a deep belief system.

Now that I have met so many people in the Ben & Jerry’s family, I am touched deeply by their passion and their unwavering focus about sticking to their core values. The culture that Ben & Jerry established early on, lives more strongly today and they have an incredible desire to act towards the common good, while maintaining an economic model that allows them to stay in business.

As with all companies at this scale, they do have a business strategy that is sound. However, finding the balance between the conservative ownership of Unilever and the activism for positive change that runs deep in their brand culture, is not an easy thing. They have chosen the hard path where others would have packed up and gone home long ago.

For me, their heritage and culture is so rich, that in fact, it completely trumps the business strategy. These people are connecting emotionally in their communities and their group understands that waking up in the morning to do important work is not just about money. They acknowledge that it needs to be there, but that in fact it is a byproduct of their group’s higher purpose.

I learned alot this past weekend. What a gift that Ben & Jerry’s gave me this week!

Thanks guys. I appreciate your trust. I am forever touched by the caring you have for our planet. Thanks for having me!

Looking forward to growing catering sales with your group!