For many restaurants, expanding off-premises operations strengthens their bottom line. But a common roadblock can be finding and retaining enough employees who can deliver a high-quality catering experience. That was the case for Panda Express, a fast-casual Asian restaurant chain with more than 2,000 locations.
An understaffed catering team was causing problems for the brand. Delivery drivers would sometimes cancel at the last minute or not show up at all, damaging the brand’s reputation. Employees normally dedicated to dine-in operations had to in turn pivot to fulfill catering orders. This impacted the experience inside the four walls and weakened staff morale.
Since delivery is a key component of Panda Express’s catering strategy, the brand adopted ezDispatch, a network of reliable catering delivery providers vetted by ezCater, in 500+ of its restaurants. This move allowed Panda Express to provide high-quality delivery and expand its catering program without overly stressing restaurant staff.
“I’m constantly thinking about, ‘work smarter, not harder,'” said Rachel Meyer, Marketing Manager, Panda Restaurant Group. “So how can I form partnerships or create programs where these [general managers] are not working harder? We’re all working smarter together, and ezDispatch is a perfect example of that.”
Since Panda Express began using ezDispatch, the chain is on track to meet its catering sales goals. Meyer gives an example: “All of our Lincoln, Nebraska, stores are on ezDispatch and they are up 140% year over year in catering. (…) It is nothing but wins.”
Thanks to the partnership with ezCater and the reliability of the ezDispatch service, the chain was also able to increase its delivery radius to 20 miles, so customers who were previously unable to get the restaurant’s catering delivered can now do so.
This partnership has been such a success for the brand that they are planning to extend ezDispatch to all their locations. Meyer expects that by using ezCater’s delivery solution, Panda Express will achieve new levels of business growth. “We are on a national (ezCater) platform that is getting our brand out in the business catering world, and they provide a service that delivers it for us, so our GM’s just have to focus on making fantastic food,” Meyer said.