3 Catering Leadership Must Haves 

After working on dozens of catering programs the likelihood of the program not delivering the team’s expected results in the first 6 to 12 months was highly correlated to these three factors.  

  1. Failure to define a clear market position for your product and service
  2. Integration of catering into your brands DNA
  3. Dedicated leadership and sales resources

Notice that I prefaced these factors with an impact in the first 6 to 12 months. Now there are many other factors that can predict success or failure but the majority of them will take longer to manifest themselves.

Failure to define a clear market position for your product and service

So many brands I have worked with find this step burdensome, and don’t want to put in the work and the additional investment to really do the research as well as put the time into to fully develop what is unique about their product and services within the marketplace. 

Instead, do this to have a clear idea how you differentiate your product and services and create a unique value proposition in your trade areas.

  • Complete a catering menu review of your top 10 competitors
    • Offerings – product (menu)
    • Offerings – service
    • Prices
    • Define what you see as their market position
  • Create a mission, purpose statement and values.  Align with your brand, what exists, but tailor it to better serve a client vs. a customer
    • Incorporate this into your training
    • Add these to your website, marketing, and day to day operations and talking points

Integration of catering into your brands DNA

Oh how difficult but important this one sentence can have on your success.  So often underestimated, here is what I mean.

  • Leadership or C Suite – Off Premises and or catering has a seat at the table, they impact and need support from the full team.
    • Real Estate – Locations should consider viable sites that take catering opportunity into consideration
    • Design – Ensuring you have dedicated food manufacturing space 
    • Accounting – You have incorporated and supplied resources to manage A/R, billing
    • Finance – Specific budgets, proformas, and profit and loss statements that incorporate and delineate the catering sales channel, for both costs and revenues
    • IT – Lots of tech platforms and integrations, and in fact this can be a significant part of your team’s day to day if you include all off premises sales channels
    • HR – Especially if you are managing separate and dedicated teams, call center, delivery drivers, and sales.  Specific job descriptions, compensation plans and bonus plans along with codes of conduct and insurance
    • Marketing – Coordination of engagement and promotion along with planning events within your community and fundraisers

As you can see catering and off-premises really touches every aspect of your business and so when you approach this as ingrained into your brand’s DNA, success will happen, and if not, it is really hard to strong arm the results.

Dedicated leadership and sales resources

Your focus and the bulk of your catering sales will come from business clients instead of customers.  The engagement process is so different, marketing helps but it doesn’t convert B2B sales.  The only way to truly grow your business and build relationships is to treat it like many other businesses that sell a product and service.  Hire, train and support a sales team.  You may get to 5% of sales, but without salespeople, thats about it.  Our sales team built to 25% and they more than paid their way.

If you need help building a team, especially if you have limited resources, check out our playbook – Build a Catering Team in 30 Days or Less to see how I did this with another company.

Let’s talk catering


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