Sponsored by Dinova
In Dinova’s latest blog post about business dining, we talked about what the growing business dining economy could mean for restaurants (in short: business dining is a silver lining to sluggish sales). Catering to businesses is another growth opportunity. Consider this: up to 90% of catering orders are for corporate events. Corporate catering alone is a $15 billion industry.
So, how do you start catering and – if you’re already in the catering business – stand apart from the competition? Here are five tips that we have based on our expertise with more than 16,000 restaurant locations nationwide.
1.Keep it professional
Corporate catering transactions are different
Corporate catering customers expect to be, well, catered to. After all, they’re likely spending a fair amount of money with you. They also expect a higher level of professionalism. Make sure your employees know how to effectively communicate to catering customers on the phone. These callers could be executive admins, event planners or key team members from departments looking to order catering for an activity happening in the office or at a job site. Being detail oriented is essential, and going the extra mile is always noticed by these guests.
Their impression: your driver
They’re not just your delivery driver. In this case, they’re the face of your business (and often the only person the client will see face to face). Be sure that you can trust them to be polite, professional and dressed in a uniform or neat clothing that represents your brand.
2. Optimize your ordering system
Consider a separate system for catering orders
A person planning a corporate event (who is spending much more than the average restaurant patron) shouldn’t have to wait in the regular line to place a large catering order. Having a separate system in place ensures that lucrative catering customers get prompt attention, without taking attention away from other customers in your restaurant.
Let them order online
In our recent business dining study blog post, we talked about the rise of mobile restaurant technology in business travel. Corporate catering customers also factor in convenience when choosing a restaurant. It makes sense; whether the customer is a corporate event planner or a multi-tasking administrative assistant, they’re very busy.
3. Focus on the logistics
Efficiency is key
The logistics of catering an office event are different from others, mainly due to the added security. Oftentimes, your delivery person will have to check in with security before they can be escorted on to an elevator and to their destination. In other cases, your delivery person may not even be allowed inside the office and must meet their contact at security. If multiple trips are involved, it can become quite a headache (both for the deliverer and the customer picking up the order). It’s important to equip your employees with the right tools and strategies for a worry-free transaction.
Food that’s packaged attractively just leaves a better impression. Considering that your packaging is, essentially, a walking billboard, you may want to invest in some that represents your brand well (if you haven’t already).
4. Treat each event as a marketing opportunity
Think of it as an extension of your brand
While your catering menu might be a little different, the experience diners receive is still an extension of your overall brand. Catering could be a marketing opportunity -- a chance to gain repeat business or new customers -- if the experience is enjoyable. Remember: you won’t be there to serve the food. What is your brand saying in your absence?
The growing importance of word-of-mouth.
In our recent study of business diners and their habits, nearly half of business diners said they relied on restaurant recommendations from friends, colleagues, and clients. A growing number turn to social media for recommendations on where to eat when they’re out-of-town on business. (For more insights read the whitepaper here). It follows that business catering customers, with more at stake, would seek word-of-mouth recommendations from their networks before placing large catering orders.
5. Reach corporate catering customers more easily
Whether they’re looking for a reliable caterer or just somewhere to grab a bite while traveling for business, many of today’s employees look here first: Dinova’s restaurant marketplace. That’s because we reward companies and their employees each time they do business with one of our partner restaurants. They earn corporate rebates and personal reward points each time they dine within the network. And, with catering, more money spent equals more points and rebates. Here’s how it works:
- We incentivize companies and employees in our marketplace to choose in-network restaurants, by offering rebates for the company and reward points for individual employees.
- Business diners in our marketplace use the Dinova app to search for in-network restaurants while traveling or planning a corporate event to cater.
- They pay as normal and the program works in the background. There’s no new POS technology or loyalty cards required.
Joining Dinova’s marketplace puts you at the top of the list when potential business catering customers are seeking ideas and options. All that’s left for you to do is provide great experiences and watch your catering business grow. If you want to learn more about joining Dinova, let’s get in touch.