6 steps to creating the perfect catering workflow

by / 0 Comments / November 13, 2015

Whether you’re a full service restaurant, a quick service restaurant, or a pizza chain, catering and delivery is a big opportunity to increase your reach and your sales. However, if you’re offering online ordering or catering at your restaurant, it’s important to create a workflow system that everyone can stick to. The use of catering software can help make that system a bit more intuitive and keep all of your information secure and accessible anytime, anywhere.

Let’s look at how catering technology can improve your catering workflow every step of the way.

Step 1: Properly calculate menu food costs

It’s no secret that your catering menu should be different than your restaurant menu. And pricing your items correctly is particularly important. For starters, make sure the items on your menu will be popular and profitable. Even if you’re bringing in $5,000 a week from catering orders, food costs could offset that number significantly. Make sure your food cost percentage is reasonable and your food cost margins match your regular dishes. Your catering software should be able to calculate food cost percentage, food margins, and offer menu engineering suggestions.

Step 2: Track the correct amount of food for catering events

If your catering software has built-in inventory options, you can estimate food cost percentage as well as sales for particular items to anticipate which foods or drinks will disappear quickly. When helping customers order, always round up to be on the safe side, and, if you offer many different food options, keep in mind that customers may want to serve them in bite-sized portions. After the event, you can track exactly how much you made vs. production costs,  and then make adjustments accordingly.

Step 3: How to Get New Catering Customers to Find You

Many catering companies operate by word of mouth. However, through the use of a fully functional webpage, customers should be able to view your menu, purchase gift cards, and schedule takeout, delivery, and catering orders.

An online home for your restaurant catering operation allows your customers to access your menu and place food orders via mobile, tablet, and desktop. You can highlight specific menu items, groups, and subgroups that are available for catering or online ordering, and they can schedule delivery date and time in the future.

You can also set the specific days and times that delivery orders can be requested, and require customers to enter their contact information and/or credit card information when scheduling a future order. With online catering software integrated with your POS system, all of this information will be saved safely and securely.

Step 4: Simplified workflow from order to delivery

Once catering orders are placed, the right kind of catering software will give you a calendar and a to-do list for future orders, outlining all upcoming orders that need to be fulfilled, sortable by time periods, items or products, as well as required delivery dates. If your POS system integrates with your catering software, you should also be able to send those orders directly to a kitchen display screen.

Additionally, you should be able to filter pending orders that have been submitted for delivery but have not been dispatched to a driver, in progress orders that have been dispatched to an on-duty driver, or delivered orders that have been rendered complete. You can then measure the time spent on delivery orders to make sure your drivers are optimizing their time.

Step 5: Payments tracking

The right kind of catering software will enable your customers to pay as soon as they place their order. And POS integration will further allow your catering team to set up house account for repeat customers, storing their billing information safely and securely.

Once that information is secured, the sales summary reports in your catering software can give you detailed insights into scheduled orders, including paid in total and deposit sales.

Step 6: Insights into catering sales

Finally, after you’ve ramped up your catering workflow, you may be filling 50 online orders a day, and catering three or four events a day. With catering technology, you can print your daily catering orders and keep track of guests’ information, including addresses and order details, whether they order online or over the phone. You can keep track of sales reports online, viewing orders scheduled in the future, expected pickup/delivery time, expected prep time, items and modifiers, and any payments that have been made, helping your staff complete all requested orders accurately and on time.

With a sales or CRM dashboard, you can also measure the impact your catering sales have on your overall sales. This includes the percentage of revenue brought in from catering and the number of monthly sales. By reviewing these numbers, you should be able to determine whether you should ramp up catering even more or re-evaluate your efforts.

Catering is quite the undertaking, but catering software can help ease the pressure. This means you can focus less on maintaining a giant spreadsheet and more on doing what you love: providing great food for great people.

* Allison Tetreault is the Content Strategist for Toast, the All-in-One POS System. She manages the Toast Restaurant Management blog and creates valuable content for restaurateurs. Follow her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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