For 20 years, Boloco has been satisfying Bostonians’ love of healthy, delicious, and globally inspired burritos. When Director of Catering, Erin Childs, joined the team in 2010, she formalized Boloco’s catering program to bring delicious burritos, bowls, and desserts to hungry people all over the Boston area. Childs recently shared some secrets on how Boloco’s catering program has become a success.
How did you put a great catering program in place?
“We started working with a good software company and set a call center up out of our corporate office,” Childs recalls. “That allowed us to run more efficiently and execute higher volumes of catering. And although our call center is centralized, we farm the orders out to our stores, where our team members make the food and deliver it to our customers.”
Extensive training with general managers and their teams enables each individual to really understand Boloco’s catering program as a whole. They get how it operates and the best practices. Through Boloco University — the company’s training program — Childs introduced Catering Crusader classes to the company’s many employees.
“We teach each team how to be the best they possibly can be. That means delivering on time, setting things up correctly, and, of course, always ensuring that the food is delicious. We make sure that everything is there so our catering program is strong and vibrant in the catering community. We strive to make our clients happy.”
What have you learned from working in catering?
“Customer service, organization, good systems, constant training, and a strong team allow you to maintain a high-volume catering program at the unit level,” she says. “You need to be transparent, honest, and truthful with clients. An important part of running a business is the human element. Our clients understand that when they’re dealing with us they know their food is going to be delivered on time and with a smile, and that it’s going to be awesome.”
What advice do you have for caterers looking to get started or to grow their business?
Child’s first piece of advice is to invest in good catering software. This allows you to keep detailed client records, including notes on order history, habits, and preferences.
Beyond that, she says there are two other key elements that make for a successful catering business: training and communication.
“You need to make sure that your teams truly understand the client,” she says. “Be patient, and trust that if you do the training, have the customer service, and serve up amazing food, you will have a strong program and your clients will be very happy. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to build relationships just like you do trust.”
What makes Boloco unique in the Boston catering market?
“There are great concepts around everywhere,” says Childs. “What sets Boloco apart is the flavors that we offer, our health factor, and our people. Boloco really prides itself on our people and our team. That’s what makes our brand special, and it’s why I’m so proud to be part of it.”
In fact, she says she doesn’t mind some healthy competition. In Boston, the catering industry is thriving and there’s more than enough business to go around. “I respect that clients can’t order Boloco every day, and I am always happy to recommend competitors if a customer is looking for a different cuisine or they are someone I think the client would like to work with.”
What advice do you have for anyone ordering catering?
“In general, you always want to make sure that you’re ordering from a company that’s responsible and gives you the attention that you deserve. At Boloco, our customers know that we’re here for them 24/7, that we have an amazing program in place, and that we welcome and look forward to their business.”
Childs had one final piece of advice for caterers. “Have fun. It’s extremely important that people love what they do and the clients enjoy it too.”
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