Did you know you can make more money by lowering your lead times? Business is booming for last-minute orders, and our data shows that 47 percent of our customers need catering within twenty-four hours and about 14 percent need their orders within four hours. So, offering customers the convenience of quick turnarounds is one sure way to win them over—and put more cash in your pocket. Here’s why you should consider lowering your lead times.
1. Attract More Customers with Lower Lead Times
At ezCater, we get quite a bit of traffic on our website every month—millions of catering searches. It might surprise you that about half a million of these searches are for catering orders needed within four hours. Of these half a million searches, customers usually face slim pickings. On average, each search result turns up about ten restaurants. In other words, there aren’t enough restaurants to meet the demand for last-minute catering orders. Our data below shows just how many of our customers need catering at the last minute.
Percentage of Customers Who Searched for Catering
by Lead Time
When you look at the search behaviors of our customers, the numbers make the case for lowering your lead times. As you can see, there’s a huge demand for this convenience. If you can swing it, lowering your lead times can mean edging out your competition and attracting more customers.
2. Face Less Competition with a Two-Hour Lead Time
If you’ve already reduced your lead times, consider dropping them further—think two hours. Why? Because you face less competition in the two-hour category—and you can reap even more rewards. According to our data, searches for two hours have on average only 11 restaurants as a result, while the median is 2. By comparison, searches for twelve hours or less have an average of under 60 restaurants that appear. Thus, a two-hour lead time can springboard your business to a place where there’s hardly any competition.
If you want to visualize the data with a real-world example, here’s one. In the past 30 days, in San Diego, 47 percent of users searched for catering with lead times of twenty-four hours or less. On average, these users were shown 82 restaurants. While this gave customers a broad selection, this also meant that restaurants faced somewhat stiff competition for that business.
However, restaurants faced far less competition when they lowered their lead times to two hours or less. While only 13 percent of users searched for two-hour lead times, there was little competition for that business as an average search listed only 6 restaurants. The point is that over 10 percent of catering searches are underserved. And your restaurant has a huge opportunity to grab that business by lowering your lead times.
Take it from one of our high-value catering customers, Christina Barbaro of Dennemeyer: “If you lower your lead time, it’s going to open up your business a lot more. And it might even be a business opportunity with a new customer—to show this person what you can do. And with a quick turnaround time, that will ultimately lead to a lifetime customer. You just never know.”
3. Break Through Roadblocks to Lower Your Lead Times
Despite the big business opportunity, some restaurants hesitate to lower lead times past certain thresholds because they’re worried about operational strains. But when we explored solutions with restaurants with lead times of 12-plus hours, we found that many of them were able to lower their lead times in the following ways:
- If restaurants couldn’t lower their lead times for breakfast, they could lower them for lunch.
- If lead times couldn’t be lowered for time-intensive dishes (e.g., barbecue), restaurants could still offer quick turnarounds for most menu items.
Additionally, 82 percent of the restaurants we surveyed say they can make most, if not all, of their menu items on the same day. If this sounds like your business, see whether your restaurant can customize lead times for different catering menu items. If you have a handful of dishes that take more TLC to prepare, you can offer the bulk of your services on shorter notice, excluding the more time-consuming items.
While it may involve a bit of planning and work, lowering lead times to four hours or less may open a new avenue to capture more customers and revenue.
Want to lower your ezCater lead times?