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Catering vs. Take-Out Delivery, Part I

Time to Make Sure Your Clients Know the Difference

One of my East Coast clients just sent me an article about an app-less food delivery service; all steps of the process—from ordering to delivery—are handled by text. Almost every week I see new middlemen emerging who make it very easy for anyone to order any kind of food from anywhere.

If you own a restaurant, this can be great news for you. Although there are caveats and issues—I’ve covered these in previous posts—most restaurant owners will welcome these services. Caterers, however, may need to pay attention.

Started small

Many of us built our businesses on small orders. In the beginning, if a potential customer asked if we would deliver three box lunches, we were usually more than happy to oblige. As we have grown, these orders can present a dilemma—whether they come from repeat customers or new ones.

Legendary Mike Roman’s answer to the regular customer who wanted to know the cost of a three box lunch delivery was, “Mrs. Smith, if you really need only three box lunches I will produce and deliver them for free, since there is no way for me to make a profit on such a small order. When I add your order into the billing process I actually lose money; I value you as a customer, and that’s more important the few pennies I will make or lose on this order, so what time do you need the food delivered?”

I’m digressing a little here, but Mrs. Smith probably did ask for her delivery. Of course Mike hoped she remembered the favor and would reward his company with many more substantial orders.

One problem

One obvious problem is that today Mrs. Smith can contact a number of services that will welcome her three meal business—and maybe we should let her. If she really wants three restaurant meals dropped off at her desk in brown paper bags after they have travelled on the floor or in the back seat of some unknown driver’s random vehicle, then maybe it’s time to stop worrying about it. What we do need to do, however, is find a way to communicate that what we do is more than mere food delivery. In my next post, I’ll share with you why we have more impact as caterers, because we’re NOT just delivery food.


Michael Rosman is a member of the Catersource consulting team. If you would like information about him coming to your business to address your specific needs, please email Carl Sacks at c[email protected]. His book, Lessons Learned From Our Mistakes – and other war stories from the catering battlefield is available through the Catersource store.

You can visit Michael’s website at email [email protected].


Michael Rosman

Michael Rosman

Owner/Founder, The Corporate Caterer, Boston, MA

Michael Rosman is the founder of, a consulting, coaching and lead generation company for businesses that aspire to take their corporate catering business to the next level or start a new division. He is also a Senior Consultant with He can be reached at [email protected].