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How Catering Automation Can Help Drop-off Caterers Overcome Pressing Challenges

There’s no shortage of challenges that food entrepreneurs face on daily basis while running their own drop-off catering business. If left unchecked, these challenges can have serious effects on your business growth. 

Here are five prominent challenges, as well as the solutions to overcome them through the use of catering automation.

Five common challenges drop-off caterers face 

1.  Stressful and time-consuming manual process 

In today’s digital-first world, catering businesses are doing their best to establish and maintain an online presence. And this is an excellent move. However, something is still lacking. 

What’s that, you ask? A streamlined ordering process.

Most caterers still rely on QuickBooks, spreadsheets, and other manual methods to record catering orders. As such, managing and processing orders becomes slow, stressful, and inefficient. And the more time it takes to process catering orders, the less revenue your business will generate. 

What’s more, by manually taking orders, there’s a higher chance of making mistakes. And this can lead to an unpleasant customer experience which is bad for business.  

2.  Inconvenient customer ordering process 

If processing orders manually is a challenge for you, think about how your customers feel when they have to call and email back and forth with you in order to find out what’s on the menu, place their orders, and then finally make payment.

In a world where convenience is king, they won’t hesitate to pledge allegiance to other caterers who offer more convenient ordering options. As a result, you’ll be losing sales to your competitors or, even worse, third-party ordering sites like ezCater or Fooda.

It's not enough to rely on your tasty delicacies anymore to keep customers. You have to make the whole ordering experience convenient for them.

3.  Cost of hiring additional staff 

If you run a small drop-off catering business, you are often tasked with receiving calls or responding to emails from customers who want to make inquiries or place orders. But as your business expands and you start wearing more hats, the need to hire someone to manage this role becomes urgent. 

However, at an average of $20/hr, this means you’ll spend over $45,000 per year on salary. While larger catering businesses are capable of covering the cost, it's a challenge for small business caterers. Especially at a time like this when everyone is trying to cut costs and get more catering clients

4.  Inefficient menu management

The first thing most people do before placing an order is to review the menu to see what’s available. As such, your catering menu is more than just a tool used to communicate price. Instead, it's your first marketing instrument with the power to attract or chase customers away.

However, many drop-off caterers don’t necessarily pay attention to their online catering menus since it’s a fairly time-consuming task given how often menus are updated.  And as a result, when customers request your menu, you may inadvertently send them an outdated one. 

5.  Sacrificing commissions to third-party ordering sites

Nowadays, creating an account on third-party online marketplaces like ezCater has never been easier or more enticing. After all, you don't have to build a website from scratch or worry about managing it. Just create an account on their site, set up your online menu, add your prices, delivery fees, and you are good to go.

But that's where the fun ends.

You sacrifice as much as 15% commission to these third-party sites. In an industry where the margins are less than 10%, that's a lot.

Although they promise to get more eyes on your business, is this really the case? Remember, you are competing with thousands of restaurants and caterers on these platforms. 

So, what’s the solution to all these challenges?

How catering automation overcomes these five challenges 

If you had the option to choose between (A) calling or emailing to order food or (B) using a self-serve online ordering platform, which would you choose?

I bet you'd go for option B.

And that’s because it's in our human nature to follow the Principle of Least Effort, which states that: When deciding between two similar options, people will naturally choose the path that offers them the best experience with the least effort.

This is what catering automation gives you.

By automating your drop-off catering business with catering software, you eliminate the five challenges mentioned above. What’s more, it helps you to save costs, save time, boost productivity, increase catering sales and generate more revenue. 

1.  Put an end to stressful, manual processes 

Catering automation saves time. This way, you get to reduce the ordering process time, increase catering sales and generate more revenue.

2.  It makes the ordering process more convenient for customers 

By automating drop-off catering orders, customers will find it easy and convenient to browse your online menu, place their orders and make payment, all without speaking to anyone.

3.  Catering automation saves you the cost of hiring additional staff 

Since customers place orders themselves, you only need to confirm or reject them as you deem fit. In other words, you don’t have to hire anyone whose responsibility is to receive calls or respond to emails. This saves you the extra cost of hiring additional staff.

4.  It helps you manage your menu effectively 

Managing your online menu with catering software is a breeze. You can quickly turn new recipe ideas into menu items or make changes to your menu in minutes. 

5.  With catering automation, you don’t sacrifice commissions  

By using online ordering software to automate your drop-off catering business, you no longer have to sacrifice your precious margins to third-party sites.

This way, you get to keep every single dollar that comes into your business

Leverage automation to overcome pressing catering challenges 

The ultimate goal of most drop-off caterers is to increase sales, get more customers, and expand their business. Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to achieve these goals if you’re still spending a large chunk of your time tackling the challenges listed above.

But by automating your drop-off catering business, you’ll not only overcome those challenges but set yourself and your business up for success. 


Andrew Woo

Co-Founder & CEO, HoneyCart

Andrew Woo is the Co-Founder & CEO of HoneyCart. HoneyCart is a commission-free catering order automation software that makes it easy for drop-off caterers to take online orders, streamline their manual processes and grow sales. Andrew uses his passion for tech to help small business caterers save time, save costs, increase productivity and get more catering clients. Andrew loves learning about the problems small business owners face, working with them on solutions, and seeing how happy they are when they’re fixed.