The Takeout, Delivery & Catering Show – A podcast for Foodservice Operators

Hi there,

Well, I finally have my studio going again and I’m really excited to be working on some brand new content to help foodservice operators get their minds wrapped around their Takeout, Delivery & Catering Strategies.

My work for the last 20 years through MonkeyMedia Software, The Catering Institute and Off-Premise Insights has been focused on helping Restaurant & Foodservice Operators to understand the paradigm shift of managing a new operating model to incorporate off premises sales.

Please feel free to send me your feedback.

Here is a link to my show.  We have completed 27 episodes or you to listen to. Hope you enjoy!

You can listen here.

 

How Holiday Catering can make up 50% of your sales this year

We love the holiday season at Monkey Group!

For some businesses, things slow down, but for restaurants, it’s one of the biggest opportunities of the year for takeout, delivery, and catering sales.

Our clients at MonkeyMedia Software, The Catering Institute, and Catering Insights tell us how catering orders can account for 30, 40, even 50% of their sales.

There’s a huge opportunity here.

Over the past 21 years, we’ve been using our strategic framework, The 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Takeout, Delivery and Catering, to educate restaurant operators on how to take advantage of this incredible opportunity so their fourth quarter can actually make their whole year.

Holiday catering-specific marketing materials become crucial to sales performance, and while that may be obvious, you still have to make some noise.

The following advice comes from personal experience as a former owner-operator, from listening to our clients, and from working with restaurants and foodservice operators of all kinds over the past 21 years.

(Remember – catering is a different business than your in-store operation and not just an ‘add-on’ service! You must be specific and thoughtful, and always stick to your brand promise.)

Your most valuable marketing tool is your people.

Train your people to speak and write the language of restaurant catering. This is true when you’re gearing up for holiday catering sales season, and it will carry through to help you build momentum for your current program year-round. Train your people at the operations level to tell your catering story to the public. Your front-line people should be able to direct your catering customers to the right team within your organization at the right moment, which will ensure that your customers’ expectations are set properly for guaranteed service execution.

Use all advertising methods at your disposal to tell your catering story.

Showcase your whole team as catering experts – no matter who your customer talks to, that person should be a catering expert, and be able to help your customers. Display a list of the clients you currently service in your store and on your website for prospects to see. Post a sign in-store that says “Today’s Deliveries,” showing your orders for the day – it’s a great way to help drive customer enquiries and interest!

Develop and showcase a holiday catering menu.

Your holiday menu should be different and complementary to your current menu. Focus on a category. Be clear that it is a limited time offer. Stick with one specific, high-value (and high margin) offering.

Document holiday policies and procedures for your team and customers.

The holiday season increases stress for your people and catering operations. Your catering strategy during the holiday time should provide a logical plan for the seasonal spike in sales. You may need seasonal staff. Align your holiday strategy with your existing plan, then include a separate policy and procedure guideline focused specifically on your holiday catering customer.

The holidays should be remembered as a time of festivity with co-workers, friends and family. Give your catering customers an experience to remember and they’ll have even more to celebrate, as well as tell all their friends what a great catering experience you were able to provide.

Feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions! And best of luck this season,

Erle Dardick

Grub hub? Doordash? Uber? Postmates? Dispatch?- Stop wasting your time

 

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OK.  I am going to upset a lot of people with this post tonight.  I’ve been at this for far too long and have watched our customers work way to hard to grow their restaurant companies.  And so, I’m throwing my hat into the ring on this 3rd party delivery issue.

As a restaurateur, are you feeling confused about your options of how to handle 3rd party delivery services?  Are you being bombarded by Doordash, Postmates, UberEATS and so many other providers promising you the moon?  Promising you more sales?

Well, good luck with all that!  It’s a shakedown!  None of these services are adding value or growing your sales.  It’s a ticking time bomb.

Read this article in the Washington Post last week, “Not All Restaurants Are Fans of Food Delivery Services“.  The author does a great job at demonstrating how restaurants are losing control over their brand and off-premise experience.

I applaud In n’ out Burger for taking a stand and suing these guys for misrepresenting their brand.

Need more?  Check out these employment reviews about Doordash one of the darlings of the industry.  That’s a whole lot of bad will right there.  These are the people that are delivering your brand to the consumer.  Do you really want your restaurant to be reflected this way?

Here is another guy, taking to Youtube to show how Doordash is messing him up.

Postmates?  No better.  Check out this reality.

And then there are these guys!  These heavy hitters are claiming that they are going to revolutionize the business.  Not a restaurant operator in the bunch.  Technology engineers that are pitching their “fast growth” stories to Wall street and getting billions of dollars in funding.  Do they have any appreciation for restaurant operations?

None of these companies seem to care about your restaurant operations.  If they did, they would appreciate how complicated they are making things for restaurants.   As a matter of fact, they are working hard to further disrupt your restaurant operations, and they are taking a piece of the action while they do it.  And because this is a technology play, people will get super rich in the process.  This has Dot Com all over it.  The business model is doomed.

Well, I am really concerned about where this is going.  It’s a runaway train and it’s going to create dismal economics for our industry.  A lot of restaurant companies are going to go out of business in the process.

Let me share with you that I have worked in restaurants for more than 20 years.  And I can tell you, delivery for takeout is (and always has been) a challenge.

Let’s work on an example:

  1.  Let’s take a transaction of $12.00 (sandwich, drink and cookie)
  2. If you are a GREAT operator, your gross margins are at best 35%.
  3. This gives you a gross profit of $4.20
  4. 3rd party delivery services are charging 18% – 25% as a commission.
  5. This equates to $2.16 to $3.00
  6. This reduces your gross profit to $2.04 – $1.20.
  7. Your realized gross margin is actually 17% – 10%, depending on your arrangement.
  8. If you look at the math, you will actually see that with this scheme, you are splitting 50% or more of your gross profit with these services.  It’s just not affordable.

Now, I can tell you from experience that with a gross margin this dismal, it is impossible to make any money on this transaction.  In fact, I might argue that you will lose money on this transaction and you are better off not taking the business.  This is steep discounting.  It’s not going to work.

So go ahead!  Ramp up your takeout delivery business with these 3rd party players and watch your profits fly out the back door.  Watch your customers walk out the door and watch as you lose total control over your takeout business.  BEWARE!

Here are some additional facts:

  1.  The customer is not yours.  The customer belongs to the 3rd party delivery company.  The orders are being placed in their database and systems.
  2. Depending on your agreement, the more you pay and the more transactions you allow, the higher your listing and more visible your restaurant is on their websites.  They will drive more “non profitable” business your way.
  3. Not one of these 3rd party companies is making any money.  They are ALL being funded by Venture Capital and Private Equity.
  4. The business model is not sound.  Neither restaurants or the delivery companies can sustain this model.
  5. Their valuations are starting to decline.

Conclusion:

If you want to deeply discount your products and quickly cannibalize your sales, sign up for these 3rd party delivery services today.  It’s a sure way to lose your money, and fast.  Oh, they will bring you a “ton of sales”.  Thats for sure.  But you will lose money on each one.  Good luck with that.

Delivery for takeout has always been a challenge because the cost of distribution is prohibitive.  Delivery for catering works because the order values make sense.  You can afford to absorb the cost of distribution when an order is a few hundred dollars.

Saying that, do you want this guy doing your catering delivery?  Seriously?

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This topic is complex.  My recommendation for restaurants is that they should focus on the basics.  Do what you do well.  Focus on your core business strategies and don’t run head on into a technology gold rush.

If you want to do delivery, then do it yourself.  Do a good job.  Take good care of your customers and just do a good job.  Pizza operators have done that forever.  Just ask them.

Focus on a solid catering and takeout program and take care of the last mile yourself.

My two cents.

 

 

 

Erle’s Catering Sales Tip#345 – ABC

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My team at the Catering Institute is working hard in the field today, as they do every day.  We spend all our time in restaurants helping them to grow sales and increase profits by educating them to be experts at feeding their customers where they Live, Work & Play.

One of the key elements that we get asked about every single day is how to sell more products and services in the business to business (B2B) channel.

Well, I have learned that in order to sell more off premise products and services into companies, we have to really focus on active selling.  We have to become professional selling organizations, every single day.  This is not for the light hearted.  It takes organizational resilience to really be selling at all levels of a restaurant company.

One idea that I like to focus on with all of our clients is on the “ABC’s” of selling.

Always Be Closing!

It is amazing to see how many of us experience an uptick in sales when we just start focusing on the basics of asking for business.

Here are 5 ideas that you can implement tomorrow to help you grow more sales.

1.  Ask for the order 3 times

2. Be persistent every single day.  If a prospect says no to you, it’s not that they are really saying no.  They are not buying for another reason and it is your job to find out.

3.  Know when to Cut Your Losses and Move on To Another Prospect.  This is part of the qualification process.  Are they qualified to purchase your products and services.

4.  Learn to Isolate Objections.  Make sure you ask your prospect “Besides {put objection here}, is there any other reason you won’t buy from me today?”

5.  Once Isolated, ask the Prospect, “If {put objection here} was not an issue, would you buy then?  Then solve for their objection.

Let’s sell more catering together!

 

Our community is confused about restaurant takeout & catering – Segment Markets

blog-marketsegment1-150110I’m flying at 35,000 feet enjoying the modern miracle of Wifi on airplanes. I just spent the last week of my life visiting restaurant companies in the Northeast corner of the US.  I feel honoured to be called upon by some of the biggest restaurant companies in the world to help them with their catering and off premise business operations.  I am very lucky to do the work that comes with my job as Founder & CEO at MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute.

I have been thinking deeply about catering & takeout out of restaurants for the last two decades.  I’ve written about it, made videos about it, presented at conferences about it and have been evangelizing to our community that our consumers will continue to demand services for our restaurant brands  where they Live, Work & Play.  The off premise business opportunity for restaurants will continue to grow and increase in complexity.

In my world, I see complex manufacturing dynamics in all of the restaurants I spend time in.  The way I see it, when it comes to feeding our customers where they Live, Work and Play, there are only two core service channels. (Takeout and Catering).

Now, to be clear, what I am proposing is a framework for every restaurant to consider when it comes to segmenting it’s markets, so that our operations can adapt to the complexity of order entry, conversation, manufacturing and distribution.  Depending on the service channel for off-premise restaurant services & products, our operations will react and behave differently based on the occasion and order dynamics.  Saying that, here’s the rub…. Our customers are not experts!  We are!  The look to us to tell them what to order when.  And so, we will only succeed with flawless execution and our customers expect us to know our business better than them.  And so, as experts, we have to recommend the right things, for the right occasion, every single time.

There is a lot to discuss here, and I am going to self publish and essay on this topic where it will be available at the Catering Institute, because I think this is the single biggest challenge that our restaurant community faces when it comes to maximizing transaction volume for our off-premise sales opportunities.

Here is what I want to say…… Language matters!  And it matters a lot.  If our operations are unclear on how to direct our guests based on their service demand and feeding occasion, then can you imagine how confused our guests are going to be when they place their orders?  I can tell you that serving multiple markets out of a single restaurant is absolutely daunting.  But, it’s also absolutely possible!

So, as you open the doors to your restaurant(s) tomorrow, I want you to think about segmenting your takeout and catering opportunities based on the market and consumer demand for more products & services for your brand.

Dine In, Takeout, Delivery, Curbside, Catering, Event Catering, Food Trucks, Online Ordering, and Group Ordering are all examples of market segmentations and the use of language.  There are probably 100’s more that we have not thought about yet!  Now you can see the complexity here!  To many things going on at once, and not enough team members inside our organizations that understand the dynamics.  This lack of understanding leads to chaos inside our organizations.  We have to work on this together.

To me, it’s about feeding your customers where they Live, Work & Play.  It’s about getting your customers to spend more money with your brand more often.  It’s about making your brand loyalists aware of these horizontal services and getting them to think of you at the right time, for the right occasion.

Takeout and Catering are closely related cousins.  Both can be available for pickup or delivery.  Both of these order types can be placed online, through mobile devices, through kiosks, in-store or on the telephone.

So, I ask you, how are you segmenting those services in your restaurants and what are the best practices for the order to cash cycle of each type of transaction?  I can tell you, if you don’t frame the conversation properly for your customers, they are going to walk away with a negative experience.

From what I see every single day in the field, few brands, if any are doing a good job at explaining this to their internal teams or to their customers.  And so, the result is confusing and less than stellar.

Until we take the time to properly segment our markets, and develop language internally and externally that makes sense, we will continue to make it hard on ourselves.

I am going to spend some time thinking more about what I can do to help our community frame this dynamic properly so that we can set ourselves up for success and grow the off-premise sales channel for restaurants.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.