How to increase profitability in contract catering
If fewer guests enter the restaurant, as many work from home, how can your business still be profitable? The answer lies in increasing the turnover of each person who enters. For contract caterers looking for new ways to be profitable, this post is for you.
1. Mise en place
Review your offering. Is it currently only lunch? Think about adding breakfast and dinner to the offering or providing other options that make guests’ day easier, like taking a prepared meal bag home after work.
Mise en place means everything is prepared in advance like the kitchen chopped all vegetables and pre-cooked the meat. All the buyer has to do is toss the ingredients together and put the dish in the oven. It works similarly to the meal kits you subscribe to, like Blue Apron or HelloFresh, and it’s a smart way to get rid of leftovers from lunch.
Just think how valuable it will be for employees leaving the building on their way home. First, they need to stop by the grocery store, then they must go past the preschool, then go home and cook dinner for the family. If they can take a meal kit with them on their way, they don’t have to spend any energy planning dinner, buying ingredients, or cooking the food.
The fact that it is also an environmentally friendly meal filled with healthy food doesn’t make the offer any worse. The restaurant gets more opportunities to sell and strengthens its employer brand thanks to innovative customer solutions that make their customers happy. A win-win.
2. Zero food waste
For a lunch restaurant that offers a buffet or specials of the day, it’s challenging to make precisely the right amount of food. You need to find a way to repackage and sell the food again to minimize food waste. With connected fridges, employees can pick up a leftover lunch and take it home for dinner.
To better calculate how much food is needed you can also offer everyone who pre-orders in the app a special treat or a discount. This will make life easier for you and the guests.
3. Digital marketplaces
Another option for getting rid of leftovers is to collaborate with external companies that sell the leftover food, like Flashfood, Karma, or Too good to go. You exhibit that the company cares about not throwing food away, and you can offer leftover meals at discounted prices. However, it should be a second-hand solution, and you should prioritize selling leftovers to people in the building working for the affiliated companies.
4. Convenience stores
Finally, you can open a convenience store with self-service checkouts or similar intelligent payment solutions. It’s a good idea for upselling with meal kits like previously mentioned, but also to offer simpler food items like butter and other breakfast products.
That is another way of improving life for busy people. They can avoid the extra trip to the grocery store before going home just to buy some oat milk. A convenience store can be completely unmanned where the customer identifies themselves and thus gets access to their personal discount. The customers can shop through an app or by swiping an RFID access card into the store’s self-service cash register and scanning products. The most important thing for the customer is that it’s easily accessible. In return, the store is increasing sales during all hours of the day if it is unmanned.
Previously, there was only one channel – ordering via a physical checkout. The possibilities are many more today, such as pre-ordering in an app, self-service checkouts, or flipping the access card in a vending machine.
For a fast food chain, it’s wise to invest in self-service checkouts if all their restaurants have a similar concept worldwide. But for contract caterers that run tens or hundreds of restaurants, the food concepts differ. Some restaurants have a buffet concept. Others offer several dishes, and others work according to a three-shift schedule where the menu changes daily. In contract catering there are also many rules, discounts and grouping of guests to take into consideration.
That means that contract catering cannot just buy an arbitrary SaaS solution – a more flexible solution is required for scaling.
Contract caterers today need to focus on activating new channels to increase turnover and find digital solutions to help out. Pej and Oracle have developed a contract catering platform including a digital ordering solution, self-checkout kiosk, order status board, and a guest management tool.