While we’ve all remained cautiously optimistic about the future of our industry, it’s safe to say that (knock on wood) the catering industry, and the world, are on the road to recovery. To say this is exciting would be a wild understatement after the hard months we have endured! This month, to help caterers prepare for the rebound ahead, the International Caterers Association hosted a webinar entitled, “Reopening Is Coming: What Can We Do NOW to Engage Clients and Prepare for the Rest of the Year?” We were joined by a panel of catering industry experts and pioneers: Katie Fleury of Ridgewells Catering in Washington, D.C., Lisa Ware of Catering by Michaels in Chicago, April Lambatos of Footers Catering in Denver and Suzi Shands of Mintahoe Catering in Minneapolis.
They discussed the hardships their teams faced over the past year, but also shed a light on all the fantastic steps they’re taking to prepare for business ahead. Here are the tips we can all use to trudge ahead as the world recovers.
Focus on the three Ps: People + Process + Profit = Success
Business is coming back, and in order to prepare, Lisa Ware of Catering by Michaels said they’ve been focusing on Marcus Lemonis' 3 Ps of business as shared in CNBC's show The Profit. This concept explains that People + Process + Product = Success. They first focused on their team morale and boosting excitement around the return of business, ensuring mental health was a priority. Then, they streamlined their sales process and online ordering, then taught their team about profitability and ensured their product offerings were top-notch. This is a recipe for success any catering company can adopt to move forward!
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At the end of the day, we’ve all experienced great loss this past year. Most caterers have stayed afloat by simply staying human, checking on their clients and doing whatever they possibly can to make an event happen and be a resource for confused clients navigating tough, fluid restrictions.
Pursue social business
While some smaller corporate events and galas do seem to be coming back, where most catering companies are seeing the demand grow right now is social. People have missed seeing their friends, weddings have been postponed at least once (if not multiple times) and families are ready to celebrate all the milestones that were missed over the past year. It’s time to help them gather again safely!
Be Ready to Rehire
While the gathering restrictions are unpredictable, it’s important to have applicants ready to hire when those numbers do increase. Put job postings out now and start interviewing and training so that when your area’s capacity limitations are removed, you’ll be ready to service your events at 100%! Lambatos shared that they recently put out a job post with over 100 applicants to respond. If you’re not sure what demand will look like, you can hire a team of “swiss army knives” like Catering by Michaels has done. Each player is incredibly versatile with a morphed job description to fit the times!
Incentivize Your Team
Ensuring your team is eager and ready to get back to business is key for success. Throw out some incentives for those who bring in leads and business to boost morale and provide opportunities for growth in this new season!
It’s Time to Get Back to Business
We are seeing signs of business around every corner and can’t wait to see more catering companies traveling the road to recovery. Our top three takeaways to continue driving ahead:
- Be the Experts: Help your clients navigate the unclear waters as restrictions are changed and lifted.
- Have a Plan: Don’t let the surge of business catch you off guard. Use the tips shared to prepare your team for a busy season ahead!
- Start Outreach Now: Competition is going to be fierce as we move forward. Be top of mind for your clients and remind them you are there to help them with solutions for their events.
Together, we will come out stronger!
For more information and to be notified of future catering industry webinars and education opportunities, visit internationalcaterers.org.