This article is part of a series called “Getting Off-Premises”, which examines how to build an off-premises business.
By Jim Rand, catering practice leader
In this episode of Getting Off-Premises, host Jim Rand meets with Erin Childs of Boloco to discuss the difference between pursuing business opportunities in the business (B2B) and social (B2C) catering markets.
Jim Rand: I’m here at Boloco’s location in Boston’s Back Bay. Boloco is known for its modern Mexican spin on burritos and bowls. Looking forward to spending time with Erin Childs. She’s worked her way up from director of catering to president. Can’t wait to hear the lessons she’s learned about B2B and B2C catering.
Jim Rand: How did you guys decide where to play? What was the decision-making process?
Erin Childs: We play a lot in the B2B. We do play in B2C, but a majority of our business is in B2B. We have a location in Hanover, New Hampshire, that might have more office parks. Same as our Lynnfield, Massachusetts, location. There are more office parks and there are more residential [buildings] in that area. So our B2C might be personal parties, graduation one-offs in those areas, and lots of corporate catering for offices [with] traditional Monday-through-Friday [workweeks] in Boston.
Jim Rand: Is there a big difference between B2B and B2C in terms of what the customer wants from you and how you have to interact with them?
Erin Childs: There is. It’s a great question. For B2B, they want their food to arrive on time, be set up in full order, complete. B2C is really looking for their food to taste amazing. They’re most likely going to take it, if they’re in their home, and transport it onto different platters and have it be, you know, party-ready for their guests at their home. But their expectations are more focused on the food quality than on the on-time delivery, which is still important. I’m not saying it’s not [important to] make sure everything’s there, but two very different experiences.
Jim Rand: How about when you’re taking orders. Do you feel like you need to educate more? With the social caterer? The B2C person versus the B2B person?
Erin Childs: Absolutely. The B2B, they just want lunch for their boss for 15 people, 25 people. If they’ve got dietary needs, a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, whatever it is, they tell me and we make it happen and they don’t really care what it is.
Jim Rand: Got it.
Erin Childs: As far as the B2C customer they need more time. They need me to talk through menus, they need me to picture their event and understand what their needs are for their party, so they’re meeting the needs of their guests but also meeting the needs for what they envision for their party.
Jim Rand: What I found in the past was social occasions, especially when it comes to things like doing a wedding or a graduation. Seems like you have to put a lot of preplanning effort into it, whereas your business-to-business catering is just kind of, it’s coming in the door every day. It’s more about having that ongoing relationship, the building of trust. On the social side you’re building the trust almost upfront.
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