Catering Treats and Snacks on the Boardroom Table – Some Thoughts

 

TheBuesinessOp_Edit

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Order Execution – A key enabler for successful restaurant catering

This year, I am celebrating the beginning of my 16th year at MonkeyMedia Software.  As an entrepreneur, I am pretty much “path dependent” on my journey at this point.  For better or for worse.  It’s not impossible to shift gears, but at my age, it’s logistically challenging.  Just like catering out of restaurants.  Logistically challenging.  Don’t get me wrong;  I am not looking to change careers!  No Way!  I’ve got way to much learning to do and everywhere I go, all I see is opportunity for the US restaurant industry’s catering channel.  I absolutely love this business!  I see a $100 Billion dollar business out there.  It’s out there, but we HAVE to execute!

To keep myself interested every day, I am always looking for “shiny new objects”.  Well, according to my friend and colleague, Fred LeFranc, from Results Through Strategy, I can’t help myself. ” It’s classic entrepreneurial behaviour “, he tells me.  Oh, and by the way, those of you who might be looking for a great strategist, call Fred.  He’s doing great work for some our restaurant community’s best known brands.  So today, I will celebrate this part of me.  The part that can’t stop innovating.  Can’t stop imagining.  Can’t stop hoping.  It’s just that I feel SO certain!  Some days I feel like a child in a candy store.  I have to choose carefully or I will end up with a stomach ache!

As the founder of the MMS Catering Institute, it’s my job to document a business model for catering out of restaurants, that is predictable, scalable and repeatable.  I spend hours thinking about it, days writing about it, and weeks working in the field with my customers.  Customers like you.  Restaurant operators just trying to survive day to day.

I have learned that one of the key enabler’s for successful catering out of restaurant operations is “order execution”.  Too many of us fail at this.  Why?  Because logistics are complicated.  Logistics matter.  Like all industries, we can learn from others.  And so, I found this fantastic video that really shows the logistics execution of Airline Catering Operations.  It’s impressive, to say the least.

There are many takeaways for us as restaurant catering experts from this video.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on what you take away from the video.

Drop me a line.  Let’s talk Catering!

Was not going to post today…. but then I saw this.

I wasn’t going to post on my blog today until one of my team members sent me a thanksgiving video that Boloco made for their team.

When I saw it, it reminded me a lot of the same team spirit that we have at MonkeyMedia Software.  Then it dawned on me; [again] we all like to do business with like-minded people.  Thank you team Boloco for being such a nice group.  Great culture, great results.

If you need to feed a group this holiday season, they have a killer catering program.  Just call them at 1-855-265-6246 or simply email them at catering@boloco.com.  Their catering specialists will ‘jump to the pump’ for you and yours!  Great Hospitatlity!  Great Food. Great People!

When I’m on the Road, I’m moving forward

Hey there:

Just came off a whirlwind road trip!  Like a boxer training for his next fight, road work is important for a growing business venture.

I’d like to tell you it’s easy, but that would not be the truth. Its tough.  Mentally and Physically.  It’s tough on your family.

For those of you that travel for work and have families, I am sure you will agree.  Especially if your business has a quick pace to it.  Well, as it grows, it gets faster. At least, that’s how it’s going for MonkeyMedia Software.

Our team is  fighting hard every single day for the efficiency and scale of our customers’ catering operations, and its going great!  Thing is, we’ve got to keep it going.  So, more road work is needed.  More site visits, more on site training and workshops, more hands on the street kind of effort and of course, more software deployments.

I dream that one day, the off-premise market will represent 50% of restaurant revenues.  That’s $315 Billion in annual sales, based on today’s revenues.  In reality, it will be more as consumers change their buying habits.  Ok.  I’m lumping in all delivery for takeout, catering, mail-order and licensing revenues into this number.  The countless ways that brands can extend their services outside the four walls of the restaurant.  Anyways, regardless, it’s a big number.

Ok.  I did say it was a dream!

So why do it?  It’s got to be worth it, in the end  so the whole effort and investment makes sense, but in the meantime, until “that day” comes, it has to be more meaningful in the moments.  Otherwise, it just too hard.  You have to believe you are doing the right thing to continue, or you need to change strategies, no?

Well, I’ve got the “believe” thing and the “strategy” thing pretty much in check.  So, I just continue.  That’s a good thing right?

So, I say, It’s got to be the journey.  The day-to-day.

So, I was thinking to myself, “I know what it is that I don’t like about being on the road, so what are the parts that I do like about it?” seeing that it’s a big part of my job.  And I do love my job!  So, I had better focus on the great things because there are so many!

So here are my top “likes” , if I were to capture the moments in between over the last few weeks.

1.  Validation – Feeling of Accomplishment fills my heart

Nothing makes me feel more accomplished than the happy faces of  the catering teams of our  customers!

2.  Learning – Fast Casual Executive Summit fills my brain with great information

My Facilitation of the CEO Discussion panel along with Tom Feltenstein. Great conversation and insight from Frank Paci, Don Fox, David Rutkauskas, Phil Friedman and Dean Loring.  I am so lucky to learn from these great leaders.

3.  Friendship – Making new connections with like-minded leaders

Great to meet you Wally Doolin! Love your passion and admire your leadership.

4.  Community and Fun – Laughter creates community, trust and sharing

Here we are shooting our “annual tradition” video. Soon to be up on Youtube! Great people, great fun.

5.  Teambuilding – Building Culture and a Team

I am very lucky to be able to serve the 32 team members at MonkeyMedia Software. They make sure things are ok at home as we do our road work.

When it comes to our business, when we are on the road, we are moving forward.  

Enjoy your day.  Thanks for stopping by.  Travel Safe.

Erle

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

 

This Canadian Loves Americans! – Happy 4th of July!

Loves

As a Canadian, I want to take a moment out to tell my American friends why I am so grateful to their country.  I mean, would Canada even exist without the US?

I know, I’ll probably get slammed on this post from all the patriotic Canadians that think our country can exist in this world without the support of our good friends to the south.

Well, we can’t.  It’s not that we are not able bodied or capable.  Canadians are certainly a motivated and concerned bunch.  We are good people, well loved in the world.  But let’s be honest with ourselves.  Really honest.  Here are some facts:

1.  Relations with Canada and the US Span more than 200 years.

2.  Together, we have managed to develop and maintain one of the most stable and mutually beneficial relationships in the modern world.

3.  Each is the other’s chief economic partner and large-scale tourism and migration between the two nations is second to none.

4.  We share the world’s longest border.  We work hard together to operate those borders.

5.  Trade between our countries has continued to expand over the last 200 years.

6.  We have very close cultural ties.

7.  Canada is America’s favorite country according to a 2010 Gallup Poll.

Well, of course there are many,many more facts that can be stated here.  Ok.  I am sure the “naysayers” are about to hammer me on this post.  GO AHEAD!  I DON’T CARE.

One thing that I am certain about.  All of my wonderful US friends and colleagues are kind and generous people.  At least the ones that I know.  They treat me fairly, always take an interest in my world and go out of their way to help me.  Just like my Canadian friends…. I just don’t see a BIG difference.  At least not in the people.  I mostly see hard working, honest and smart people trying to make their mark in the world and earn a living for their families.  Again, no difference.

The US is a nation of Freedom.  Oh, did I mention how grateful I am to my American friends for helping to keep our borders safe?  Or the skies safe?

I am reading a book called “Patton’s Vanguard” right now, written by our restaurant community’s very own Don Fox, CEO of Firehouse Subs.  And let me tell you how grateful I am for the Allied forces and the sacrifices they made for MY freedom.  Oh, and did I mention what a hard working, kind and generous man Don Fox is?  He could be Canadian… We’d certainly have him here!

I am free to write this post today, pursue my “American (Canadian) Dream”, just like so many before me.  My family came over to Canada from Eastern Europe at a time when it just was not safe for them anymore.  Some of them went to the US as well.  And they worked.  Worked hard.  Made a life for themselves so that I could have the benefits today.  And what about my kids?  They live a wonderful, safe and full life.  Don’t get me wrong, it all comes with a lot of hard work.  It’s not handed to me on a silver platter.  No way.  I wake up and try to make a positive contribution each and every day.

And if not for the leadership of President Eisenhower during the liberation of Europe, would I be writing this post today?  Highly unlikely.

Yes, Canadians have a lot to be thankful for.

Could I focus on all the negatives?  Of course I could.  But what good would that do?  Every country has it’s problems.  Canada is no different.  Why would I slam US politics or policies?  The media does a better job than I ever could.  But isn’t that how the media works?  Report on bad news, scare people into believing that the sky is falling and watch your ratings soar.

When you have more than 300 Million people, you are bound to have a difference of opinions.  You are bound to have some “bad eggs” in the system, crime, violence and illegal immigration.  Greed?  Well, there are greedy people everywhere in the world.  That doesn’t make Americans greedy!  No.  Not at all.

And so, I could go on and on and on.  But all I want to do is thank my American friends for their support.  For their concern.  For their willingness to raise the bar and for treating Canadians so well.  For giving us the opportunity to share resources, to sell goods and services and most of all for protecting our freedom.

Yes.  Our freedom.  Without it, I would not be writing this today.  So, thank you to all my American friends, colleagues and supporters.  I am grateful to each of you.  Thank you for your kindness.

Please know that you can call on me anytime to come to your aid, and I will always watch your back!

Happy 4th for July!