By Jim Rand, catering practice leader.
Behind every great catering program is a finely tuned team—and hours and hours of work. You can have a terrific catering concept, but without a great team to execute it well, failure is an option. Choose the right people for this new venture and you’ll have a brigade to ensure that your business runs perfectly, even when you’re not there to fuss over the details. A great team is vital not just to smooth service but to your success (learn more about restaurant capabilities).
How you forge a chain of command for your catering program will depend on whether you operate a single- or multi-unit restaurant company. I’ve outlined strategies for both below.
When your catering business hits these sales milestones, here’s what to do:
* Jim’s Labor Tip: I never wanted to say no to an order, so I overstaffed my restaurants just a little during peak hours. Technomic’s 2018 “Catering Insights Program” report shows why this is wise. The research firm found that about 25 percent of catering orders were placed with less than 12 hours’ notice, and 38 percent of all orders arrive the day they’re needed. Since these orders come in on top of the restaurant’s dine-in business, it was worth absorbing the cost of an hour or two of extra labor to make sure all customers were happy. I believed catering sales would grow later to offset the added labor, and they did.
Since operations of this size have already established catering programs, let’s proceed to scale up business by leveraging your chain’s large labor pool.
“Choose the right people for this new venture and you’ll have a brigade to ensure that your business runs perfectly, even when you’re not there to fuss over the details.”
A catering business in large chains will thrive with corporate oversight and organization. While each unit still has a dedicated catering coordinator, direction now comes from corporate personnel who support, market, and sell for large groups of restaurants.
A corporate structure would look much like this:
Key responsibilities of corporate personnel would include the following:
Having been a vice president of corporate catering at two large chains, I have seen firsthand the need to have an advocate for catering. Companies that give their catering arm the TLC it deserves will see it thrive and become a reliable profit center in the ever-competitive restaurant market.
Learn how to build a solid foundation for your catering business.