Business catering is back — and the growth opportunity for restaurant operators is bigger than ever.
The business catering industry took an undeniably hard hit during the pandemic, and ezCater was no exception. Demand dropped significantly during 2020 but rebounded to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. Sales have since skyrocketed, and ezCater Marketplace bookings nearly doubled between 2021 and 2022. Plus, over 80% of company budgets for food orders have either remained the same (55%) or increased (28%) since the pandemic.
That’s why now is the perfect time for restaurant operators to consider adding business catering options to their repertoires.
Understanding the increased demand for workplace catering
A business catering rebound was expected as people returned to the office, but the explanation for increased food-for-work growth goes beyond onsite attendance. The driving force behind this upward trend is how companies use food as an employee incentive and retention method.
Food for work as an employee incentive
The shift back to onsite work has been slow, especially with many people enjoying the perks of working remotely. Because of that, business catering may still seem like a moot point. Why bother catering lunches if employees don’t even come into the office?
However, that’s exactly why companies are investing in business catering: to bring employees back into the office. Nearly half of all employees work in a hybrid environment, and organizations want to bring them back into the office. In fact, it’s a top priority for many organizations since an in-person team helps foster more collaboration, a stronger company culture and increased efficiency.
Why business catering customers are so uniquely valuable
These work environment changes and increased focus on employee well-being make business catering customers uniquely valuable. When companies and organizations invest in business catering, they spend a lot — and these large orders come in frequently, meaning consistent high-revenue opportunities.
About 40% of businesses that order catering request food for over 20 people, and nearly two-thirds of companies have a per-head budget of over $14. That means hundreds of dollars in revenue for each catering order. In fact, the average ezCater order for more than 20 people totals $350.
Now, imagine regularly receiving these high-revenue orders. Almost 80% of companies frequently order business catering — at least once a month. And of those companies, 32% order weekly.
The growth opportunity for restaurant operators
Not only does business catering bring in high-value customers, but it also drives growth in three main ways.
The catering “halo effect”
Business catering doubles as a marketing tactic. The average business catering order serves over 20 people — 20 people that may not have heard of your restaurant or tried your food. This offers the perfect opportunity for brand exposure, as each person who enjoys the food will likely become a customer outside the workplace.
More consistent orders
Business catering brings clients from diverse industries, all with unique seasonal trends. For example, orders from colleges and universities might drop off over the holiday season as classes pause. But that’s the peak ordering season for retail and distribution organizations as they experience the holiday rush. In other words, industry diversity provides consistent catering demands — and revenue — throughout the year.
Making employee downtime profitable
Frequent large catering orders might raise concerns about hiring more employees. However, most business catering orders with ezCater (70%) occur during the slower morning hours, meaning you can maximize your existing labor resources. Employees can use off-peak morning hours to prepare catering orders before the lunch rush, ensuring a balanced and profitable business day.
Make business catering part of your business strategy with ezCater
With such an incredible opportunity for growth, it makes sense to include business catering in your business strategy — especially when partnering with ezCater, a trusted corporate food solutions provider.
But before you dive in, make sure to explore our complete survey data about the new business catering landscape. Download ezCater’s 2023 Feeding the Workplace report today, and set your restaurant up for success with tips on how to win in business catering.