Enhancing your catering menu may sound simple enough, but it’s an aspect of the business that is often taken for granted. By building, testing, and refining your catering menu, you can help boost your restaurant’s sales and profits. Here are some tips compiled from experts we’ve interviewed, including Chad Miller from Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, for building and testing your catering menu.
Even if your menu is known for variety, consider scaling back your offerings for catering. A small, tight catering menu helps simplify execution so your kitchen can focus on delivering your concept flawlessly. It also cuts down on inventory costs and waste. Try these steps to streamline your catering menu:
When a food order is prepared in advance and delivered off-site, it can suffer during the process. Knowing this, you should test all items at every step of production, delivery, and service to pinpoint declining food quality.
As you test your catering offerings, ask yourself:
By controlling the quality of your catering offerings, you can improve the customer experience. (To learn more about providing great customer experience, read this article about executing your catering strategy.)
Customer feedback is vital to the success of your catering business. By listening to your customers, you can improve their experience and build a stronger catering menu. Start by sending food samples to unbiased customers. Then harvest their feedback. Talk to your customers and send out surveys to find out which catering offerings will be popular.
After you determine the popularity of your dishes, consider how they’ll impact your operations. For instance, can the dish be easily executed? How will the catering dishes impact your inventory orders? When you want to add new items to your existing catering menu, test those items on customers first using the process outlined above.
Chad Miller, Executive Director of Food and Beverage of Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, used this same method to refine Red Robin’s menu while developing its catering program. Chad says, “You can’t give away enough free food to people to determine if the type of food that you want to cater has legs. Because people will tell you everything you want to hear—just by giving them something for free.” Watch this short video for more tips on how Red Robin delivers the total burger experience for its customers.
Mix-ups can happen, especially with large catering orders. Your delivery driver could drop off the wrong order. A vegan customer could accidentally eat a vegetable dish with hidden meat products. If you want to please your customers, attention to detail matters. Make it easy for customers to know what they’re receiving by doing the following:
Research shows customers are strongly influenced by branded packaging, so don’t overlook its ability to impress them.
Branded packaging is also important because it:
If improving your catering business is one of your resolutions this year, try refining your catering menu to start. Using our tips, examine what works and what doesn’t, and fine-tune your catering-menu offerings. Create a great catering menu and set yourself up for success.
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