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28
 
Jun
 
2023
 - 
5
 Min Read

The Expert’s Guide to Successful Off-Premises Catering

Restaurants willing to embrace off-premises catering and invest in the right systems, staff, and strategy can expand their business and reach new customers.

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Nash
Blogs
Catering
Successful Off-Premises Catering
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Have you ever considered the potential of off-premises catering as a way to maximize your revenue? Off-premises catering is not just an add-on service, but a business in itself that requires commitment and strategic planning. It can be a significant undertaking and consideration for any restaurant.

Simply advertising “We Cater” on the windows of your restaurant won’t cut it. But with the right approach and investment, it could be a major driver of revenue and business growth. 

Restaurants willing to embrace off-premises catering and invest in the right systems, staff, and strategy can expand their business and reach new customers.

To build this comprehensive guide and offer you the most actionable insights, the Nash team spoke with industry veteran and catering expert Erle Dardick. Erle is the founder of Off Premises Growth Academy and former CEO of MonkeyMedia Software and The Catering Institute (acquired by ezCater in 2019).

Let’s start with the basics. 

What is off-premises Catering?

Off-premises catering refers preparing food and beverages in a restaurant or catering facility, and then transporting and serving at a location away from the preparation site. This differs from on-premise catering, where you prepare and serve food at the same location, like in a private dining room or banquet hall.

Why should my Restaurant Consider Building Out an off-premises Catering Program? 

Cultivating an off-premises catering service is a strategic move that offers a variety of benefits for your restaurant. off-premises catering opens up new avenues for revenue, and provides an opportunity to reach more customers than you could within your restaurant's four walls.  For restaurants that make the commitment to off-premises catering, the potential for increased revenue, broader reach, and stronger brand awareness is immense. 

Here’s the truth: A busy restaurant is a happier restaurant. By adding a robust off-premises catering operation to your business model, you create additional channels that drive more orders to your restaurant. But the key lies in strategizing around the timing of these orders. This will allow you to optimize kitchen operations, reduce downtime, and make the most of your resources.

Five Pillars to Running a Successful off-premises Catering Business

Successfully running an off-premises catering business involves mastering five core areas. Dardick, owner of Off Premises Growth Academy, teaches five pillars to building a successful off-premises catering operation. 

Leadership

You cannot overstate the importance of strong leadership when it comes to starting an off-premises catering service. It's not just about assigning someone to handle the catering orders. You need a dedicated leader who can steer the program, make strategic decisions, and maintain oversight of operations. 

This person should understand the ins and outs of catering, be ready to tackle challenges, and passionate about providing top-notch service. Without strong and focused leadership, the chances of achieving any meaningful success are slim.

Sales and Marketing

In the competitive food service and hospitality industry, clear and attractive messaging can be the difference between gaining new customers or having them overlook you. It's essential to clearly communicate what your restaurant offers, such as catering breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc., and target the right audience with your messaging. Being intentional about key features the menu items and turn-around time you offer for catering is vital. Each type of food has unique preparation, packaging, and delivery requirements that you need to factor into your catering strategy.

Centralized Services

For smooth operations, all your management of orders, processing payments, and customer service should run through a single, central catering management system. This ensures consistency in the service you provide, and helps avoid potential mix-ups or mistakes that could come from a more scattered approach. This extends to keeping track of customer feedback and complaints, which is crucial for continuous improvement.

Operations and Technical Capabilities

Catering management is no easy feat. One key insight from Dardick is to treat catering as a separate business with its own unique processes and systems. This involves implementing catering management software that can manage the special requirements of a catering service, such as tracking online ordering, managing delivery schedules, and handling payments. 

Essentially, these systems need to be capable of dealing with the increased complexity and scale of a catering company compared to normal restaurant service, while staying on the cutting edge of catering software solutions.

Delivery

The last, but not least, important aspect is catering delivery. In off-premises catering, how you get your food to the customer can make or break your service. 

Outsourcing delivery with a delivery management platform like Nash can save you time and money, while also ensuring the highest delivery quality. It's not just about getting the food to the customer, it's also about maintaining its quality and ensuring it arrives in the best possible condition. Hence, careful planning and investment in delivery resources are critical.

As Erle puts it, "The off in ‘off-premises’ is about getting the food off-premises somehow." Whether it's using Nash to dispatch hand-picked catering delivery fleets or outsourcing smaller orders to third-party delivery services, having a hybrid delivery strategy is important. 

Quality Excellence: The Key to a Successful off-premises Catering Program

A successful off-premises catering business does not compromise on quality. Maintaining quality excellence in all parts of the business — from customer service to food quality — is the top priority for customer satisfaction and gaining repeat business. 

Quality excellence goes hand-in-hand with your delivery capabilities, as well. Transporting the food without impacting its quality heightens your reputation as a prime choice for off-premises catering. Using a white-glove delivery platform like Nash can help ensure that your catering arrives in its optimal condition. 

Off-premises catering is not just about transporting food from one location to another. It's about providing a memorable dining experience outside your restaurant. 

Remember, successful off-premises catering is not about chance, but about choice. The choice to be intentional, to invest, and to deliver unparalleled value to your customers, wherever they may be. As Dardick aptly points out, "You have to decide if you want to be in the business or not. If you want to be in the business, you have to invest." 

Are you ready to take your restaurant off-premises and into the realm of successful catering? The journey may be challenging, but with the right strategy and planning, the rewards can be well worth the effort.

Want to see a successful catering delivery program in action? Discover how Nash helps enhance Roti's delivery success by 15% in this case study.

Deliver catering orders with confidence

Take control of your most complex, high-value catering orders with Nash. Tap into our global provider network for reliable delivery wherever you grow.

Learn More

Deliver catering orders with confidence

Take control of your most complex, high-value catering orders with Nash. Tap into our global provider network for reliable delivery wherever you grow.

Learn More

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