There is extra business to be made in off-premise catering. It is time to capitalize on the many businesses and companies planning their annual events, or customers looking to throw a party at home.
People may want a service that falls between takeout from a restaurant and a full-scale catering company. This month, focus some of your advertising and marketing dollars on bringing your restaurant to the homes and offices of your customers. Here are some tips on how to attract this extra business your way:
1. Offer self-service catering
Create party platters, family-style meals and special menus to service this need. Keep in mind your customers are probably looking to feed a large crowd with as little hassle and fuss as possible, and with minimal cleanup. Make sure you pitch the right foods to the right crowd.
2. Don’t forget packaging and delivery
When budgeting your catering menu, remember to include food packaging and delivery expenses into the total cost of the service. You may need to invest in new packaging to accommodate serving larger numbers of people in specific timeframes. Also consider packaging that holds food securely and keeps it at the right temperature.
3. Create a menu that reflects your restaurant
Try to incorporate all your signature dishes into your catering menu. Offer menu items that are bestsellers in your restaurant. Off-premise catering is not the time to experiment. Make sure your menu items can be made in advance and provide enough variety for your clients.
Also provide a combination of hot and cold foods. Keep in mind the necessity to serve finger foods that don’t require a knife and fork to eat, or buffet foods that guests can eat while standing up.
4. Make it look good and unique
Be creative in the way you serve food. Customers entertaining at home or other offsite locations need more than just food from your restaurant. They want food to arrive in attractive platters with the appropriate garnishes – this helps add to the overall success of their party or event. Allow your customers to ‘rent’ or ‘borrow’ platters, crockery and silverware from your restaurant that can be returned the next day. Alternatively, you can use environmentally friendly bamboo trays and platters to arrange food, helping you save on disposable packaging.
5. Cross-promote businesses
Collaborate with your local florist, a deejay or musicians to offer your catering services as a package that comes complete with food, decorations and music.
6. Marketing your menu
Create a catering menu and leave copies all over your restaurant. Include a menu with every guest bill. Send a creative direct mail package or an email blast to your existing mailing list, as well as all businesses in your area. Contact local event planners and let them know about your new catering menu.
7. Pay attention to final details
Not enough emphasis can be placed on final details to ensure your catering operation will run smoothly. Whether finalizing an event or checking the spelling on your menu, it is necessary to go every single minute detail. Make a schedule and stick to it. Tie up all loose ends by making certain food transportation is planned, proper food temperatures and safety issues are considered, and all necessary additional equipment has been acquired.