While business catering is not an entirely new concept, the opportunities it presents for all restaurant types can’t be ignored. Technological advancements have created a buffet of options for businesses and savvy operators need to be ready to deliver the goods.
According to Technomic, the $20-billion business catering market can provide sales growth, and for chains, a way to build same-store sales. Chains that have invested dedicated resources toward catering report that it represents more than 20 percent of their sales, they estimate.
“Business catering is growing like crazy,” Victoria Brady, ezCater’s Director of Caterer Care and Partnerships, told MRM magazine. “Employers are now looking to catering for the social aspects food provides.”
The Boston-based ezCater bills itself as the only online nationwide marketplace for business catering providing the gamut of workplace culinary needs such as sales meetings, training and events. The company, which features a network of 45,000 restaurant and caterer partners, has grown to serve nearly nine million people and works with businesses such as Google, Microsoft and Uber.
The company, which recently won the Gold Stevie® Award in the Most Innovative Company of the Year category at The 14th Annual American Business Awards, tripled the size of its business and secured $28 million in Series C funding this past year.
“We value our partnerships and look to people who can deliver and bring food in family style,” added Brady. “Catering is the perfect opportunity for restaurants to increase mid-week sales.”
Brady noted a number of trends for 2016 such as all-inclusive packages that enables a restaurant to offer suggestions about possible pairings, while easing the ordering process for the customer. Additionally, they can be used to highlight items that are cost-efficient and time-saving. Global flavors and breakfast services are becoming more popular as the millennial palate is looking to spice things up a bit. She suggests that restaurant operators not stick to the same old tried and true menu items and add some unique touches to make their cuisine stand out and be memorable. The local and seasonal trend also extends to the catering climate, she noted, so letting any potential clients know you have cultivated relationships with area suppliers and farmers will be a selling and marketing point.