Coronavirus is forcing many restaurant operators to come up with creative solutions to meet their customers’ evolving needs. With social distancing measures and local and state regulations in place, the demand for, and requirements of, catering are shifting.
Within the past week, orders on ezCater containing individually packaged menu items have more than doubled. Here are some steps you can take to capture the increased demand for individually packaged meals.
What are individually packaged items for catering?
It may seem straightforward, but individually packaged items are different from your individual menu items or catering menu items with optional individual packaging. Here’s how:
- Individual menu items. These are menu items you have priced per person, are a single serving size, and are typically offered with no order minimum.
- Individually packaged items for catering. Catering menu items that are packaged in a single serving size, but are meant to be ordered for a group with an order minimum.
- Catering items with optional individual packaging. Catering items that are normally served on a tray, but can be packaged individually on request.
Why should you consider adding individually packaged meals to your menu?
Work environments are changing. Individual menu items give B2B customers the ordering flexibility that is becoming the norm. By offering individually packaged catering items, you can reach more customers and satisfy their desire to personalize their orders.
But it’s not just about customer convenience. Some companies are requiring all catering orders to be individually packaged amid health and food safety concerns. By giving customers what they want how they want it, you can win more business.
How to capture the demand for individually packaged meals
Look at your catering menu and ask yourself these questions. You can probably make a few, simple changes and increase your orders.
- Do you have catering menu items that you could easily package individually vs. on trays?
- Are there individually packaged items on your takeout or delivery menu that you could offer on your catering menu too?
- Are there catering menu items that you individually package already, that just need to be called out as such?
Create a memorable packaging experience
As you introduce individually packaged menu items, think through the packaging itself. It plays a crucial role in a customer’s experience of your brand.
“The truth is that packaging and supply can often be an afterthought. And it really needs to become part of the menu creation,” says Nicole Buck, Vice President of Food Service for the Sabert Corporation. “And delivery is shifting accountability onto the operator (…) so it’s really critical to get the packaging right.”
James Clark of Clark Culinary Consulting offers these tips on making packaging part of a great customer experience.
- Make sure items hold up well. Research which packaging choices will help you deliver your food in the best possible way.
- Consider investing in simple tamper resistant solutions. Giving your customers peace of mind can win you their loyalty.
- Take portion sizes and presentation into account. What looks good on a plate inside your four walls might not translate well off-premises.
- Create brand awareness through packaging. Put your logo front and center so guests know who prepared their meal.
Customer needs are rapidly evolving. Adapting your menu and tailoring your catering strategy to meet those needs can help you retain current customers and attract new ones.
Check out more account optimization tips to expand your customer reach.