Differentiation. It’s one of the most important points to consider when developing your restaurant catering experience. The idea isn’t to simply replicate the successful tactics you’ve developed inside of your restaurant—it’s to draw upon them, and create something new.
1. Not every menu item is “catering-worthy”
What was created for your restaurant may not work in a boardroom or social gathering. Just because you have a best-selling item at your restaurant, it shouldn’t automatically be added to your catering menu.
For example, take a grilled panini. It may be a lunchtime favorite for dining in—but not one that transports well for delivery. If it’s not eaten hot off the grill, it can be a sad, soggy version of its glorious self.
Instead of sending your customer a second-tier version of their favorite menu item, leave it off the menu and choose something better suited for the occasion. Even better, create a “non-grilled” version with the same flavor profile.
2. Dress up your food (packaging is important)
Packaging is like a great outfit—it’s the thing people notice first. And it can help your customers not only recognize your brand, but immediately cast judgment on your catering experience.
Catering packaging should be an extension of your brand. Meaning, it needs to tie into it, but shouldn’t be a direct duplication of your takeout packaging.
When creating catering packaging for your restaurant, make sure it stands apart. You’re trying to separate the experience, and that means creating a distinct, visual separation from what’s going on in your restaurant.
3. Keep it simple
A complicated, ten-page menu is not going to help a busy administrative assistant order lunch for her team. She needs easy to make, quick choices that will not only make her life easier, but yours as well. If you have a larger catering menu, create sub-menus that your potential consumer can reference for their particular occasion.
To execute flawless catering orders, it helps to keep it simple. Make your customer’s ordering experience easy and help ensure you get the order right and on time, every time.
A great way to keep it simple is is to develop a streamlined menu of existing in-store products, then package and sell them differently than you do in-store.
That way, you’re giving your customers some consistency, you’re creating a unique experience, and you’re not completely reinventing your whole kitchen in the process.
For more tips about building your catering experience, download one of our catering essays or other resources.
About Erle Dardick
Erle Dardick is best known for providing turn-around strategies to multi-unit restaurant operators and food manufacturers. For years he’s been helping our community members leverage their existing assets to drive new revenue channels.
After owning and running a very successful retail deli and catering operation, Erle founded MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute to provide web-based software, strategy and education services to multi-unit restaurant operators.