Should You Be In The Catering Business? It Might Just Be A Source Of New Sales For You

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 4/5/2019

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  Paul Schlossberg
There are companies in our industry with a profitable history in catering. Others have had a less than favorable experience with catering. Either way, many of the locations our industry serves will have a need for catering services. It might be onsite at their offices. Maybe it will be a picnic away from the office – at a park or some other outdoor venue.

An article posted at restaurant-hospitality.com "Catering moves from reluctant amenity to profitable opportunity." pointed out that restaurants are now seeing catering as an opportunity for profitable added sales. "Historically, catering was something [restaurants] would do if they had to," according to Gary Stibel, of the New England Consulting Group.

Off-site catering was mentioned as the biggest sales growth driver. The question you must answer is "Why can't my company compete for off-site catering at our clients?" You begin with an advantage since you have an established relationship with the host company. Hopefully, it's a positive one.

Your clients should be aware of all the services your organization can provide. That's especially critical with your key accounts, where you should be in contact regularly. If you do offer catering, be absolutely certain that your client contacts know it.  

You'll need a proper set of tools to be effective and efficient in catering. Depending on the location and menu being served, you'll need to consider (not in any particular order):

(1) Tableware – from fancy to disposable;
(2) Hot and/or cold cabinets to hold the food at proper serving temperatures;
(3) Tables and chairs;
(4) Dealing with alcoholic beverages;
(5) Transportation – a truck (or more than one) to transport food, equipment and supplies;
(6) Staffing – from your team or maybe you'll need to recruit servers and a chef or line cook;
(7) And so much more.

By the way, unless you are catering events frequently, you can rent the equipment and vehicles instead of owning. You can decide to invest in this line of business if you can build to an ongoing sales level to support it.   

So if you do decide to add catering to your service portfolio, what should you do first? Check out the competition – local restaurants, other vending and foodservice companies, various venues including colleges and others. Look at menus and pricing. Identify sources for rented catering equipment.

Talk with clients who have held catered events. Learn about their expectations when they deal with outside caterers. Think about how you could test catering a few times before making a decision to add it as a new line of business. Maybe catering will be a winner for you. If that happens, you will be selling more stuff.



» Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached at Paul@DFWConsulting.net or (972) 877-2972 or www.DFWConsulting.net.