Restaurant Catering: 6 Do’s and Don’ts

Restaurant catering is winning market share every year as more customers turn to their favorite restaurants when treating larger groups.

While some guests want an off-site, staffed catering experience, others are opting for options they can easily order ahead and pick up, or have delivered. From fast-casual chains to full-service establishments, consumer spending on restaurant catering is approaching $8 billion and driving revenues along the way, according to Datassential.  

If you decide to offer catering, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

Do:

Stay true to your brand. Catering can be an exciting new part of your business, but that doesn’t mean you have to drastically change your offerings. While catering may require altering some recipes or services, think of it as an extension of your brand  don’t be afraid to serve up the foods your customers know and love.  

Market diligently. Spread the word about your catering services everywhere, including social media, flyers in carry-out orders, table tents, etc. In addition to advertising your catering services for seasonal events like company holiday parties or graduations, get creative by promoting for other holidays as well. Not all customers want to go out for Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day, and may instead look to catered options for in-home celebrations. 

Offer a variety of options. If your restaurant offers vegan or gluten-free items, consider providing these options to catering customers as well. The person placing the order may not know the whole party’s dietary preferences or restrictions, so you can easily help them satisfy all their guests. Highlight these options as an added bonus to your catering service.

Don’t:

Take on too much. Handling both catered orders and day-to-day restaurant orders can be tough — but properly managing staff and space can make the balancing act easier. Try to avoid scheduling catering pickups immediately after your busiest hours. You want food to be fresh upon pick-up or delivery, so plan ahead when you’re expecting an uptick in catering orders. 

Skimp on staff training. Your employees may be restaurant rock stars, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be instant catering pros.  Train your staff on the best practices for managing and preparing catering orders in a timely manner. It also helps to plan ahead for possible catering mishaps, so ready your staff for scenarios like a last-minute order change or equipment failure. 

Wing it. It’s one thing to forget a side of potatoes when serving customers in your restaurant, but it’s another to forget to prepare a full batch for a catered order. A seemingly small mistake can cause major problems when preparing food on a larger scale. Stay organized to ensure you don’t run out of key ingredients.

Restaurant catering offers a unique opportunity to not only build revenue but also make the most of slower business hours. With the right preparation, there’s no reason restaurant catering can’t be a success for your business. 

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