Leadership is the #1 Pillar for successful Restaurant Catering – It begins with the CEO

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I’m very proud of both my teams at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.  For the last 20 years we have focused on a single business strategy called the 5 Pillars of Successful Takeout, Delivery and Catering.  All of our products and services are focused on helping restaurant operators to grow sales and increase profits through feeding their customers where the LIVE, WORK & PLAY.

Through our consulting and coaching, and our curriculum and technology, we have been able to provide a sound business framework that is scalable and predictable to the Fazoli’s team.  I want to point out here that the ONLY reason it is working is because of the leadership and franchisees at Fazoli’s.  They are leveraging it properly and are applying it methodically.  This is yielding exemplary results.

Yesterday, Fazoli’s put a statement out to the marketplace that they are doubling down on technology and catering.  I am not posting it here to boast, but simply to call out that because of Carl Howard’s leadership and the conviction of his whole team, they are moving the needle for their franchisees in a meaningful way.

For me, it’s always been about the people and I am blessed to be able to work with the leadership team at Fazoli’s.

The article is below:

Fazoli’s, The Catering Institute and MonkeyMedia Software Announce Strategic Partnership to Deliver Takeout, Delivery and Catering Solutions to Franchisees

 

Is On Demand Delivery Threatening the Restaurant Catering Business?

 

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Happy New Year!

Feeling confused about your off-premise business strategy?  Takeout?  Delivery?  Catering?  Get some ideas here!

Check out this article published by Foodable TV discussing the restaurant industry’s developments with takeout, delivery and catering.

 

BEWARE: 3rd Party Food Delivery Services are being fuelled by a Technology Goldrush

images-1OK.  So we all know that delivery for restaurants is complicated!  But wait a minute!  Are we talking about “takeout delivery” or “catering delivery”?  Does it even matter?  I think it does, and I will tell you why.

As I woke up today scouring the industry trade publications, I couldn’t help but notice all the rage about 3rd party delivery services for restaurants.   What’s even more concerning, are the crazy valuations that these 3rd party delivery companies are getting, because they have convinced investors that “their technology” is going to disrupt the entire space.  Disrupt the space?  Really?  I doubt it…….

Just read this article in tech crunch – “The Billion Dollar Delivery Wars

Or just watch this crazy video about Munchery that was on Mad Money. I mean, an $85 Million Valuation?  How is Munchery Different than any restaurant?  Remember, this is a “trend”, and all trends come to an end.  Don’t they?

Check out these crazy valuations of technology driven on-demand services for restaurants:

By contrast, I really love this article in Forbes.  “Call Food Delivery Startups by their real name.  Restaurants.”

This whole market is being driven by software development.  I know, because my team has been developing real software solutions for the restaurant space for almost 20 years.  I read another article recently about “Gold Rush Software Development”.  See the paragraph below…..

“Gold rush software development is a high risk activity. The practices employed during a software gold rush are usually associated with hacking rather than engineering: small team sizes, informal processes, long hours, little documentation, bare-bones quality assurance practices—practices I refer to collectively as “commitment-based development” (Rapid Development, Microsoft Press 1996). Use of these practices puts all but the smallest software projects at high risk of failure.”

The odds of striking it rich during a software gold rush are about as good as they were during the California gold rush—for every success story, there are hundreds or even thousands of projects that bust out. But the failures aren’t nearly as interesting as the successes, and so we don’t hear very much about them. As with the California gold rush, projects run with commitment-based development are successful just often enough, and are so enormously lucrative when they do succeed, that they convince software developers that such high-risk practices can work, thus keeping the entrepreneurial dream alive. 

And so, this really got me thinking about how all this is going to impact our community?   What happens to the restaurateur during this process?  All the hard-working entrepreneurs, franchisors, franchises and independents.   The people who have mortgaged their homes to open their restaurants?  They are being bombarded by slick sales people who say they are adding value to the transaction process.  Well, be careful, that’s all I can say.  These companies do not understand your restaurant operations.

Not only is our community overwhelmed by this “technology gold rush”, but in fact, they are putting  our businesses at risk.  As a restaurateur, if you are approached by the plethora of 3rd party delivery companies that are promising you the moon and “riches”, BEWARE.  They are simply interested in the valuations that they are going to get in the market by investors who think that they are going to get rich in the process.  They are completely disconnected to the impact that their promises will have on your restaurants execution and reputation.  The one you have worked your whole life for.

At MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute, we spend all our time focused on restaurant operations and adding value to our customers by making sure we are creating products and services that are logical.  I am proud of my team for staying focused on our vision of helping restaurants to grow sales and increase profits in the off-premise space.  Takeout and Catering for pickup and Delivery.

My advice to all the restaurants out there that have to deal with this Gold Rush?  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Focus on the basics.  They always work.

Thanks for listening.

 

Be wary of online & mobile ordering solutions when it comes to Catering

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Alright!  This post is sure to raise a few eyebrows!

Let’s mix it up a bit today.  As we all know, Online & Mobile Ordering for restaurants is all the rage these days.  (again!).  As an industry, we suffer terribly when it comes to technology and the deployment of that technology into the operations of our restaurants.  We just don’t get it. And to make matters worse, the technology companies are using confusing marketing and messaging to further confuse everybody.

Online and Mobile ordering is just e-commerce.  It’s simple and is great for extending a transaction to the consumer, but it just won’t help you run you business better.  Not even close to better.  It has no operations based logic.

But it’s important to understand where a transaction online will impact your operations.  As restaurateurs, we must understand that catering out of our restaurants is an operations based business problem.  It’s not about just taking an order online.  It’s about how to execute that order flawlessly.  It’s about order fulfilment.  It’s not about taking the order, it’s about getting it out the door, on time, every time.  Order execution is the key to growing your catering operations, not just taking orders online.

There are hundreds of technology companies out in the marketplace that are offering online ordering.  You all know who they are.  We all see them at the trade shows.  The reason why there are so many is because taking an order online is the easy part.  There is little to no barrier to entry and so, anybody can do it.

Airlines, Floral, Books, Music, Clothing and just about every other product you can think of is now available through online ordering.

But to run a successful catering operation out of restaurants, you need a real business solution.  You need a software solution that has all of the business logic you’d expect to find in an operations based system.  Focused on order execution and fulfillment.  It’s what you do with the order that matters, not taking the order.  Clearly we have to take orders!

WARNING:  If you are going to build your catering transactions online and drive them through your POS for order execution, you are going to fail miserably as your transaction volume increases.

Today’s Online & Mobile Ordering providers will either;

1.  Send the order to a fax

2.  Send the order to an IP printer

3.  Send the order to your POS

If you attempt to scale your restaurant’s catering business using any three of the above workflows, you are doomed to fail.

And so, what should you look for?

1.  An end to end solution set that facilitates mobile & online ordering, call centre ordering, billing, accounts receivable management, raw material forecasting, delivery logs, sales team management, invoicing, statements, collection notices, distribution calendars, deposits and so many other things that they cannot all possibly be listed here.

And so, where can you find this kind of solution?  Well, I’m biased but why not call your PepsiCo Foodservice Representative and ask them if they have a catering solution? I’m sure they will point you in the right direction!

Or, just call Mo Asgari (604-215-2163) at MonkeyMedia Software and he’ll show you what you need!  If you are a PespsiCo customer, make sure you ask him about the “PepsiCo Advantage” program for preferred pricing.

Oh, and to all the online and mobile ordering guys out there, if you’d like to send your online and mobile orders to Monkey’s system so restaurants can actually grow their catering operations, just give Mo a call.  He’s happy to chat about our API.

Let’s talk catering!

 

Ask your Team for Help During This Busy Catering Season

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This is my 18th Holiday Season focused on takeout, delivery and catering at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.  Even with all this experience behind me, I still get worked up when I’m helping in the kitchen, answering incoming calls and closing all the holiday business that I was hoping to write.  Why does everyone wait until the last minute to order their holiday meals!!

I’ve learned that it’s always been this way.  I have also learned that corporate catering sales only come in 48 weeks per year, and that the busy ramp up time between now and December 25th is temporary.  But boy, it is busy!  It can really be stressful, no matter how prepared you might be.

I have tried for years to prepare better, plan better and make sure that I am ready for the stress and anxiety associated with flawless execution at this time.  Even so, here is the one lesson that I have learned that is the most valuable of all.  And that is…..

Ask your team to help you!  You need them.  Do what it takes.  Buy them a cup of coffee.  Take them out for a meal.  Give them a hand written card.  Beg if you have to.  Shed tears if you must.  Scream, shout or just stand on your head.  You cannot do it alone.  So, learn how to ask for help!

Successful catering during this busy season requires support from your whole team.  Make sure you take the time out to tell them, and don’t be afraid to ask them for help.  Do it today!  Your customers will thank you for it.

Let’s talk catering!

Eliminate Complacency To Build A Thriving Catering Business

Complacency

Like any business, over time, a restaurant’s takeout, delivery and catering operation can grow inefficient. This is especially true if profitability has been high and cash flow is positive. When a business lacks urgency, it can suffer. Even in large multinational companies, at the divisional level, there needs to be urgency for the enterprise to thrive.

The most efficient place for a business to operate is just above break-even. If your enterprise is thriving above break even, then please don’t leave excess operating cash in your bank account. Not ever! Too much cash creates complacency in a business. If your catering operation is generating cash, then take the cash out and either reinvest it in the operations, pay down debt or simply put it away for another day. If you leave the cash in your business account, complacency will creep in. It will destroy your momentum.

When complacency sets in, your people will get tired, stressed and lose their sense of purpose. Many of the behaviors that made you successful in the earlier and hungrier days may disappear. When complacency sets in, it is time for change. And change is hard for everyone. But change is necessary to keep your business efficient.

In fact, change is essential in order to grow.  People, products, markets, customers and processes are dynamic and must change in order to adapt and grow. Nothing stays the same forever and if it does, it can easily lose its relevance and complacency will settle in. It’s just human nature.

We have all heard the terms before. Reorganize, downsize and streamline are all words that are common in business and is part of the dynamic and organic nature of an organization. And while these words are often discussed in business matters, they do serve a purpose.

My father used to tell me that every once in awhile, a person needs to get a haircut to grow healthier hair. And even more so, if your hair is getting out of control or wild, “don’t worry, it always grows back,” he said.

If your restaurant takeout, delivery and catering business is struggling, or if you just can’t seem to meet your budget expectations, I’d recommend a “haircut.” We’ve all been there, and as hard as it is, your business will grow again when you are on the other side of it. Take your operations down to the most common denominator and go from there.

Reorganize at the executive and divisional level. Downsize your expenses and personnel if necessary and streamline your operational processes. These steps are not easy, but they are important for keeping your business and your people on track. Don’t be afraid to raise your prices, renegotiate your supplies and leases and most important, reset the expectations for your team members. Yes, you can renegotiate their compensation packages. Put some urgency back into their day. It will serve them well.

Within my own organization I am sometimes reminded of my father’s words. And when that happens I quickly look to myself and my team to make sure complacency hasn’t set in. If it has, we work together to figure out how we got there and how we can move in a more positive direction. We change things. That’s what we do.

I’ve been in business for more than 30 years and I can attest to the fact that “haircuts” are needed even when we don’t think they are. My intuition usually tells me when it’s time to “shake it up.” I can promise you that I’ve always come out on the other side with a stronger sense of purpose for the business and the team members that are resilient enough to change follow along.

If you need to make a change In your restaurant’s takeout, delivery and catering operation, don’t wait until complacency creeps in. Just do it!  Your whole organization will grow just like you originally intended. Oh, and one more thing, remind everyone that it won’t be the last time because change is good and is essential to surviving in any business.

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!