I recently wrote an article about ways that independent caterers could find answers to big company caterers like Panera. I had a great response to that article, but I need to comment further since the food delivery scene continues to get crowded. Check out this article about Dunkin Donuts' plan to begin delivering donuts and coffee.
If you are an independent caterer, or even a restaurant that does catering on the side, news like this will concern you. We all know that there are basically a fixed number of catering dollars spent per year and the more players involved, the more ways the donut—I meant pie, sorry—will be sliced. I'm being flippant here for a reason, however. I've repeated this numerous times, written about it in my book, and have spoken about this at numerous conferences and webinars:
• If you operate your business correctly
• If you pay extreme attention to detail
• If you value each and every customer
• If you respect all orders-no matter how big or how small, and
• If you serve and deliver consistently great food at market prices, then
• You will not have to be concerned about a donut chain's delivery service
Service with a smile
First, think about how you handle a continental breakfast order. You have an order-taking system, an expeditor, a series of double-checks, and an array of time-tested products. You serve quality coffee and you know how to get your products delivered on time. For each building you deliver to, you know exactly where to park. You are aware of crabby building managers and security guards, and you know how to handle a variety of odd delivery situations. Your drivers know what to do if they spill coffee in the truck, and they are empowered to do whatever is necessary to turn around a precarious delivery situation. Furthermore, your drivers are walking advertisements for your lunch and dinner business. They are courteous, well-dressed professionals.
Second, you deliver much more than donuts and coffee. You may be known for your signature fresh fruit trays. In addition to donuts, you may offer scones, muffins, croissants, hot and cold cereals, fresh juices, and a variety of gluten-free items.
Third, you include all necessary paper supplies, and many of you offer multiple levels of paper products. If a customer wants china service with white linen tablecloths and gold silverware, you may have a full-service division, or the wherewithal, to easily fill that order.
Finally, if your customers request last-minute guest count changes or added menu items, you can and will make it happen.
Do you really think that Dunkin' Donuts is going to be able to provide that level of service?
The late catering guru Michael Roman preached that price was not everything. In addition, my favorite Austin caterer constantly reminds me that we are not only selling food, but that we are selling time. Does Dunkin Donuts understand this?
Again, you know how to deliver the goods. Just continue to pay attention to your business as you continuously strive to provide better products along with higher service levels. If you are dedicated to accomplishing these goals, you won't need to worry about fringe competitors, and maybe you'll even feel comfortable enough to treat yourself to a donut and a cup of coffee.
Michael Rosman is a member of the Catersource Consulting Unit. If you would like information about these services or to schedule him for an on-site consultation at your location, please email Carl Sacks at [email protected]. His book, Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes – and other war stories from the catering battlefield is available through Amazon.