Reading over my post on gut-wrenching decisions, made me realize that it was a pretty harsh picture I painted of catering (but true) without offering up any solutions. I had a lot of ideas on how to lessen the workload and make life easier on us but I sold the business before I could implement many of them.. but maybe some of you would be interested.
Actually one of them is ‘tried and true’ and I shared it in a class as a speaker at one of the Catersource seminars. How to generate extra income areas with-out any extra cash outlay. Early on in our catering I discovered that our rotisserie BBQ beef roast would stay hot-hot for hours on end! This gave me an idea to use it in a take out meal.
We perfected a take-out meal for 50 people complete with baked potato and four sides for 7.95 a person included paper service and condiments.. so ok… this was many years ago. The thing is we (or I should say my kids) are still doing this same meal for 13.95 plus delivery charges or save 2.00 a person and pick it up cold to be reheated.
This was way before home meal replacements became so popular. Who knew people were going to buy macaroni and cheese in grocery stores already made or …. mashed potatoes.. like.. can you believe it? YOU CAN SELL ANYTHING ALREADY COOKED if you know how to do it.
We now do this with a couple other meals.. same basic principle and same sides. We still make more profit on these meals than we do on catered… why is that? STAFFING … no staff.. no vehicle expense (we charge for delivery and will call in friends to help deliver in a pinch) no set-ups.. we send a basic info sheet on setting up. Delivery services will also do these deliveries.. develop a relationship with one.
The idea is to perfect something you are really known for, ours was our BBQ beef. Make it idiot proof! I’m not sure if the high end caterers will like this idea of a cheap meal going out with no set-up. But believe me we do a ton of them and lots are over 100 to 500 people! It is our biggest profit margin item.
There are so many disposables on the market now that you need not even pick up anything after … which we didn’t btw.. we made them deliver it to a drop-off point and then they would get their deposit on equipment sent.. back.
There are so many possibilities. BUT make sure to promote it, anyone that phones should have an option of a take-out meal or at least be aware of it for future events. Don’t expect immediate results .. it will take time.. but be consistent in the promotion of it and making everyone aware of this option. If you are in a central location (we were not) make them come to you!
The thing is… YOU ALREADY HAVE customers for your food and they already love it! WE AS CATERERS HAVE WHAT YOU WOULD CALL A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE. Why don’t we sell to our own clients what they already like? Make it simple and make it easy for both parties.
Another good one is church groups BIG CHURCH GATHERINGS we will do the beef for them and supply a baked potato. For 5.00 a person! We may even throw in some other goodies that doesn’t cost us much. At a thousand people .. well you do the math.. DID I MENTION WE DON’T EVEN HAVE TO CATER IT OR carve the beef!
We did a take-out breakfast for 900 people.. it was two hours away.. we delivered it!! THEY served it! Sure we had to get up early .. but only the cooks and the delivery person. The key is to keep it simple and to encourage the client that yes .. we will give you the help and necessary tools to pull it off. (remember the set up sheet?) You want at least a 100 people for a take-out breakfast.
By the way.. these are all buffet type meals .. we don’t do individually packed ones. We also do reheat and serve beef (an outlet for the leftover roasts needed to insure our events..) we guarantee to never run out of food or your event is on us! I have a great story about that but I won’t repeat it here.
Before I left the business I wanted to expand the take-out side of it but my life took another direction and I am supposed to be in retirement mode .. BUT if I was starting out again I know exactly the direction I would take… and I would give those supermarkets a run for their money! Just pick one thing and try it out!
Ok so what is holding you back? I know we all order in or pick up Kentucky fried or A&W or Subway or pizzas to eat on those busy days when you have 2 to 10 events going out and the staff pounces on the food like a hungry wolf pack! Everyone eats take-out!!
There is a market for your food and you don’t even need to serve it .. cash in on this profitable outlet. Ask others on the caterbuzz site .. lots of them are doing it!!