Sponsored by Dinova
Summer is around the corner and with it comes the quintessential “company picnic.” The company picnic is an important event for building comradery among colleagues and across departments, having a little team fun in the sun during those long summer days, and for socializing over crowd pleasing food.
To support its partner restaurants in getting access to large corporate events, Dinova recently surveyed its partner enterprise corporations about their company picnics and related food choices. Respondents included executives in leadership roles at major Fortune 500 corporations.
According to Dinova’s results, corporate picnics are a priority for corporations and represent a considerable expenditure. 73% of survey respondents have a company picnic each year. Of those having picnics, 43% percent said their company spends $50,000 or more on the event annually. Fifty percent have over 500 employees that attend each year.
Siemens, a Dinova partner company, enjoys treating its employees to a well-deserved family-fun day with catered food and carnival games. “The Siemens company picnic is a great time for the family and colleagues who attend,” said Christine Baumann, Communications Manager at Siemens. “The planning of the event is a group effort, and each individual on the committee has a specific task that they are responsible for, and at our last company picnic, we ordered from one of our Dinova restaurant partners, Jim ‘N Nick’s.”
Jim 'N Nick's has great success with company picnics. On average, they cater 3-4 of these events each week, and the guest list can be anywhere from 500-10,000 employees and sometimes more depending on the size of the company. Offering options like whole hog, ribs, and the classic hot dogs and hamburgers, Jim 'N Nicks is a great example of versatility in the corporate picnic space.
"Approximately 13% of our total sales are off-premise catering events," says Rosie Pihakis, the Director of Marketing at Jim 'N Nick's. "While we cater many off-site functions, corporate events make up the bulk of our catering business. We're able to offer different levels of service for corporate picnics based off the guest need."
Another Dinova restaurant partner, Potbelly, has similar success in company picnic catering. On average, Potbelly provides food for 5-8 events a month during peak season; which is typically May through September. Potbelly has seen company picnics with 300 to 1,000 guests, and even provides a Food Truck option in their Chicago market for a fun out of the box experience. In offering business diners an opportunity to experience the food, Potbelly strives to create brand awareness at large corporate events, such as picnics.
“As part of our sales strategy, these types of events are always a piece of the business we work to secure,” says Jackie Kurkjian, National Director of Catering and Backline Sales at Potbelly. “Often, we like to assist customers in more than just catering, but also provide tips from our experience that could help with the overall success of the event. Catering the company picnic is just another opportunity to serve business diners.”
Among food options for the company picnic, 38% of respondents indicated that hamburgers and hot dogs are the food of choice and 25% indicated that barbeque took top billing. While traditional picnic foods are important food options for corporations, other research from Dinova indicates that vegetarian and gluten-free dining are becoming more mainstream, reflecting a growing shift toward more plant-based diets, locally sourced food, and healthier alternatives.
Be sure to include a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. A separate Dinova survey revealed that 78% of corporations included vegetarian options at their corporate events. 64% also included gluten-free selections to answer the growing interest in these dietary options.
“I definitely think companies today have a heightened awareness of individual dining needs,” notes Michele DeCosta, Senior Category Strategist, Procurement, Talent and Enterprise Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Corporate event planners are more aware and tend to include vegetarian and gluten free menus. It’s a way of showing respect for people.”
For restaurants that participate in a business dining marketplace like Dinova, being in the know on upcoming picnics the area is a big competitive advantage over other local restaurants. If you’re not part of Dinova’s business dining marketplace, consider joining.