Check out what they were doing last week to help kick off the 2013 holiday season. Great job gang…..Happy Holidays!
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!
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…
I am so excited about the restaurant catering rewards & loyalty program we are working on with the fantastic team at Punchh!
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!
I often have restaurant operators asking me about how to manage their menus. At the MMS Catering Institute we believe that catering out of restaurants is a separate business; a business unto its own.
When it comes to menu pricing, I’d like to put forward the following recommendation. Check you this video for my perspective.
This september will be the beginning of my 16th year working on advancing catering in the restaurant industry. When I thought about that, I scared myself! Sixteen years is a long time. Tons of roadwork, sweat, tears and laughter too. I love what I do and I am very lucky to serve my team and clients.
“It’s possible that I am only 15 years into what will be a 30 year process!”, I thought to myself. Well, if that’s the case, I’d better pace myself. There is alot of work to be done.
My work at MonkeyMedia Software and the MMS Catering Institute continues to evolve and our team gets stronger and better every single day. They achieve these results, because they just “chip away” at restaurant catering day in and day out. Our work in the field with restaurant operators matters a lot and our team has a deep belief system. We just don’t waiver.
On top of that, we make our customers money. That’s what we do; help them to grow sales and increase profits by teaching them to become experts at feeding their customers where they LIVE, WORK & PLAY.
And so, I was thinking about how restaurant catering is getting easier for operators. It’s really great to see. Well, I believe the best is yet to come. It’s going to get easier and easier and in the future, the entire restaurant supply chain is going to innovate products and help support the tremendous growth opportunity that we all have. It will be a wonderful thing for everyone when we hit all cylinders together.
If your organization sells services to restaurants, give me a call and I’d be happy to share my thoughts with you on why you should get into the restaurant catering conversation, sooner rather than later.