Take-Home Catering: An Untapped Gold Mine In Your Restaurant’s Kitchen
During the first quarter of 2014, same-store sales in casual dining and fast-food restaurants were impacted by adverse weather conditions, stagnant unemployment rates, and shrinking GDP. “The weather was terrible, but also economic activity was slow,” said Malcolm M. Knapp, founder of industry data tracker Knapp-Track. “It wasn’t that people just didn’t go out to eat because there was snow on the ground, it was because they didn’t go to work and didn’t spend money.”
And people have cut down on their impulse dining because more moms are staying home with their kids. According to the 2014 North America Restaurant and Foodservice Review from AlixPartners, some restaurants are broadening their menus and experimenting with new business models in their struggle to gain more business, while others have gone to a more tech-savvy route.
Debtwire notes Dunkin’ Donuts added sandwiches to its menu to entice lunchtime customers, and Yum Brands! Taco Bell chain entered competition for a share of the breakfast crowd by unleashing a breakfast menu and offering new early store hours. Brinker International introduced tabletop tablets to replace menus at its 823 company-owned Chili’s locations in the US.
In addition to a drop in customer traffic, food costs continue to climb prompting restaurant owners to search for ways to trim costs and increase sales. Sandy Korem, CEO and founder of The Festive Kitchen, suggests the answer to these problems may be in your own restaurant’s kitchen.
When Nation’s Restaurant News ran an article about food trends, Sandy claims one in particular stood out: “Take-home upscale food.” This same concept is what she calls take-home catering, and Sandy has been offering it in her large Dallas-based catering company through their retail locations for more than 12 years. It’s a huge revenue stream for Sandy and kept her going through the 2008 recession.
Take-home catering is simply the packaging of food for easy pick up for customers to serve at home with a little preparation. Sandy explains that take-home catering is food that is not on your restaurant menu, but is still your style of food that will make you a “daily necessity” to your customers.
Since you already have the staff, the recipes, the kitchen space, and customers, Sandy thinks the concept is a gold mine, and will improve your restaurant’s bottom line with less waste, lower cost of goods sold, and increased profits.
“Imagine starting a business with your overhead covered and customers who love your food already in your database. This is what is sitting right in front of you right now. Revenue can start hitting your bank account almost immediately with some simple adjustments in how you think about what you want to sell to your customers to make you a daily necessity.”
To entice regular customers to order take-out, Sandy suggests inventing food items your dinner customers would want to purchase for lunch, or items they could share with friends who visit on the weekend.
But Will They Still Visit My Restaurant?
Absolutely, says Sandy, and maybe even more frequently.
“If they purchase something from you that’s in their freezer, refrigerator, and pantry, then whose name do they see on the food packaging when they open their freezer, their refrigerator, or their pantry? Yours! Who do you think they will think of for dinner tonight if they want to eat out? You! They are paying YOU to advertise in their home.”
The Right Take-out Menu
PsPrint, part of the Deluxe Corp. family of companies, points out that as with any other business, you have to know your customer, know your best-selling items, and what items you think your customer would love if they knew about them. “More importantly, what motivates your customer to order from you? If you can identify not only customer demographics, but also customer motivations, you can tailor your menu designs to elicit the same emotions that fuel those motivations.”
PsPrint adds that your take-out menus should not be a simple list of menu items. You should include plenty of upsell opportunities. “Showcase your menu items with highlighted boxes, plenty of white space, oversized imagery, icons and text such as ‘House Specialty,’ ‘Customer Favorite’ or ‘Biggest Tenderloin in California.’ Provide build your own opportunities with tacos, salads, pizzas, pastas and other dishes.”
And finally, PsPrint advises that take-out menus that are professional, geared to upsell and speak directly to your customers have the best chance of success. Don’t miss this critical step to takeout restaurant success.
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Now that you have an incredible take-home strategy, you need to share it to social media. Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
- Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
- Monitor what is said about your restaurant online
- Have multiple people create and post content
- Pull Reports
- and much more