With thousands of employees working from home, kids out of school, events cancelled, and large gatherings banned, the catering industry has found itself in unfamiliar, and oftentimes uncomfortable territory.
“This is a whole different world right now,” said Michael Rosman, President and Founder of the Corporate Caterer. “We shouldn’t sugar coat things—this is a crisis of completely uncharted waters.”
In less than a month, tens of thousands of dollars of catering orders were wiped off the books as events were canceled or postponed in response to the spread of COVID-19 and the banning of large events.
“Without instilling an unrealistic sense of what’s going on out there,” Rosman said, “We’re still trying to stay positive and stay strong.”
Get the latest on COVID-19 here.
One way to stay strong, and relevant, that has taken hold on many caterers across the country is moving away from large-scale catering, in favor of individual, or family-style meal delivery.
“At this time, catering is not what it typically has been. Caterers must adapt to a restaurant pickup/delivery model,” said Erin Brazil, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Corporate Caterer. “With this rising pandemic caterers need to get comfortable with the model of running a take-out sandwich shop rather than a catering company with large sandwich platters.”
It’s time to deliver
Restaurants are closed, grocery stores are becoming woefully picked over or understocked, but everyone still needs to eat. By establishing a delivery or pickup business in the wake of COVID-19, caterers are not only able to continue bringing in revenue, while putting their current inventory to use, it also opens up the opportunity to keep employees employed while maintaining relevance in the industry.
In a quick survey, dozens of caterers have already embraced the idea of home delivery or pickup during this critical time, including:
- Marcia Selden Catering
- Bill Hansen Catering
- Good Gracious
- Puff'n Stuff Catering
- Groovin' Gourmets
- Frungillo Cateters
- Food Glorious Food
- Palm Beach Catering
- Rocky Top Catering
- Catering Creations
- Neumans Kitchen
- G Catering
- all occasion catering
- Russell Morin Catering and Events
- What’s for Lunch Corporate Catering
- A Joy Wallace
- Elegant Affairs Caterers
- Duvall Catering & Events
- Catering by Michaels
- Brancatos Catering
- Chef by Design Catering Co.
- The Painted Table
- Mintahoe Catering and Events
On average, these caterers are offering individual boxed or bagged meals, such as sandwiches, or salads, for under $20 a person. Additionally, many have opted for family meals, which can feed families of 4 to 8, that include appetizers, main entrees, sides and sometimes even a dessert. Prices for these meals vary, but generally stay within the $20 per person range.
Keep an eye out for more information on what caterers are doing in regards to delivery.
Bill Hansen Catering is one of several caterers who have set up family meals as part of their new at home delivery model. Photo courtesy of the caterer.
While many of these caterers had already previously set up delivery pickup business, so they could easily downsize or adjust their menus for families or individuals, others have had to completely create a new business model to accommodate the need.
Getting started with delivery
For those who are new to delivery, it can seem daunting to know where to begin. Here are some tips and resources to help get you started.
- Menu creation: Limit your menu to those items that can be frozen or reheated at home, or those that can be individually packaged and served.
- Pricing: Take a look at other catering websites to see how they are pricing out their menu.
- Delivery fee: Refrain from charging for delivery at this time
- Identify your delivery and ordering hours. While some places require an 18 or 24 hour advance order, others are taking orders as they come in.
- Online ordering: Think about whether you can feasibly set up your own online delivery ordering system, or if it is worth looking into a third-party delivery portal, such as GrubHub, UberEats or EZCater. Nuphoriq is also in the process of setting up a WordPress template for online delivery. Learn More Here.
- Marketing: Get on a Social Media,or create handouts/marketing collateral to make corporate clients aware of your B2C home delivery/pickup options.
- Model: Think about whether you want to allow for customer pickup, or what type of delivery method you want, i.e. touchless or no-contact.
When setting up a delivery business for the first time, it can sometimes take 1-2 weeks, Rosman said, so it’s imperative to get started now.
“Time is of the essence, “Rosman said. “Start small with what you can handle and you can always add to it.”
“If you are open, you need to be as aggressive as you can be by pursuing all avenues.”
If you are interested in learning more about how to set up a delivery program within your business, contact the Corporate Caterer for a free consultant by:
Corporate Office: 781.641.3303
Owner Cell: 781.589.2394