When I talk to prospects and clients about their off-premise catering requirements, many of them tell me that they want a program that is scalable and predictable. They want a program that will make it easy to grow as they open additional restaurants and franchises.
Scalability is an important component of the restaurant industry. So is predictability. I am certain that one leads to the other. Our industry has performed wonderfully by replicating predictable and scalable restaurants. Without it, the biggest players in the industry would simply cease to exist. And if that happened, where would the rest of us be?
The idea of scalability and predictability is no different when it comes to layering a successful off-premise service component on top of your existing restaurant infrastructure. In fact, reliability, predictability and scalability are three objectives restaurant operators must focus on at all times when developing their off-premise sales channel.
Ahh... But here's the million dollar question: How do we scale a "new business," with completely different demands, on top of an infrastructure that is aging and has been designed for a totally different market and experience?
It's time to be thoughtful. It's time to think of the off-premise sales opportunity as the fastest growing opportunity our restaurants have. There is no sales lift bigger that we can seek than filling the off-premise demand for our consumers.
If you can design a reliable, predictable and scalable off-premise experience for your team and your customers, you will impact your unit-level profits like never before — the flow-thru of these sales to the bottom line is substantial and very different than your in-store sales traffic.
As restaurant operators we must continue to raise the bar on the dedication and standards needed to excel in this new business channel. And the fact that these standards remain underdeveloped in our industry is both a community challenge and opportunity. I'd like to see certification; A catering institute focused exclusively on solving these issues.
As an industry, if we invest in creating reliability, predictability and scalability in our catering and off-premise channel it will grow for many years to come. It will be AMAZING!
But, it's going to take dedication and a commitment to innovate and change. It's going to take time. It's going to take money. It's going to take effort.
Oh. And the answer to the million dollar question?
"Catering by design." That's how. Just like you know how! Let's talk catering!
/ Erle Dardick is a 15-year catering veteran, business turn-around expert and author, and is best known for helping multi-unit restaurant executives create successful catering revenue channels. Erle founded MonkeyMedia Software to provide catering solutions to multi-unit restaurant operators. He also is the author of Get Catering and Grow Sales! One Monkeys Perspective: Catering Defined for the Multi-Unit Restaurant Executive.