Whether you’re new or old to the catering business, I bet you’ve heard others recommend the use of software.
But are such recommendations in place?
Well, they are. Especially if you’re keen on taking online orders.
A piece of catering automation software helps organize your catering operations. And with the right one, you can automate the entire online ordering process.
QSR Magazine’s Daniel Smith, confirmed this when he said:
Technology is playing a prominent and escalating role in catering. Those who can harness technological tools like online ordering and loyalty programs are better positioned to succeed, minimizing friction for the end-user.
I couldn’t agree more.
With catering ordering software, you can:
- Run your business online
- Process more orders seamlessly
- Save more time
- Keep your costs low
- Streamline your operations
- Generate more revenue
- And lots more.
If you recognize these advantages and are keen on setting up your catering business online, I bet you’ve faced the hard choice of which software to use.
Should you go for Caterease or CaterZen, some of the more prominent catering automation software? Which one of them is best for drop-off caterers?
There are real questions caterers like you must answer on their way to choosing the right catering software for taking their business online.
And I’m here to do justice to those questions and guide you accordingly.
To answer these questions, I’ll walk you through how both catering software compare. You’d also see why drop-off caterers now choose HoneyCart over these two options:
“HoneyCart truly enables small caterers to compete with larger companies by having a really professional and easy-to-use online ordering system.“
– Abbey Duke – Founder, Sugarsnap Catering
To kick things off, let’s see how each of them works.
How Caterease works
Caterease is an event planning and catering software.
It’s primarily designed for event planners who need software to manage small to large events.
However, Caterease has an integration with an online ordering company – Zuppler whose primary customer base are restaurants.
So if you decide to use Caterease for online orders, bear it in mind that there will be additional costs.
Caterease offers a wide range of tools to simplify and manage all event planning and catering tasks. And that’s everything from managing detailed events and maximizing sales to managing customers and tracking revenue.
To use Caterease, you have to subscribe to one of their paid plans.
How CaterZen works
CaterZen, on the other hand, is a cloud-based catering management software that allows caterers to manage operations, sales, and marketing.
It is specifically designed for caterers and restaurants as it helps to track sales, take orders, view reports for kitchen planning, and manage employees.
CaterZen also offers a wide range of tools that helps to manage operations, streamline the catering process, track and manage inventory.
To use CaterZen, you also have to subscribe to one of their paid plans.
Now you’ve seen how these two platforms work, let’s dive into how they compare to help you decide which one is best for drop-off caterers.
1. Key Features: Caterease vs CaterZen
What’s the whole idea of using software to run your catering business online?
If you asked me, I’d say automating the entire online ordering process should be top on the list.
And for this to be possible, there are certain key features required in every software. They include:
- Order Management – to manage and process orders
- Menu Management – to organize your online menu
- Customer Relationship Management – to save your customers information
- Account Management – to manage and process invoices and receipts
Once these features are available, others are secondary.
The good news is both Caterease and CaterZen have these features presented in one way or another on their platform.
Caterease brands itself as an event planning software, so it’s only natural to have an event management feature. Other features you’ll find in it are:
- Account management
- Prospect management
- Menu management
- Direct deposit
- Standard reporting
On the other hand, CaterZen brands itself as management, sales, and marketing software. In it, you’ll find features like:
- Delivery manager
- Menu manager
- Order taking
- Proposals & quotes
- Email marketing
Price is arguably one of the first and most important factors most caterers consider when choosing a software to use.
I bet you’re no exception to that.
Well, it makes sense because you can’t pay for a platform that’s above your budget. With that said, let’s see how pricing compares between Caterease and CaterZen.
Caterease has a 3-tier pricing structure – Express, Standard, and Professional depending on your catering needs and budget. And you can pay monthly or annually.
There’s also a one-time setup fee of $200 (per user) and $35 monthly ($28 annually) for each additional user.
Monthly Pricing Structure:
- Express: $85 per month
- Standard: $125 per month
- Professional: $165 per month
Annual Pricing Structure:
- Express: $816 ($68 per month)
- Standard: $1,200 ($100 per month)
- Pro: $1584 ($132/month)
You can also choose and pay for add-ons, interfaces, and web tools to build a customized package.
Caterease doesn’t offer a free trial. And you must speak with their sales department to request a demo or sign up.
CaterZen is the more expensive of the two software. It has four monthly plans – Online Ordering plus, Pro, Pro Plus, and Marketing Pro Plus. There’s no annual plan.
An Optional feature includes a one-time start-up support fee of $299.
- Online Ordering plus: $99/month
- Pro: $129/month
- Pro Plus: $169/month
- Marketing Pro Plus: $199/month
Unlike Caterease, CaterZen offers a free trial with no credit card required. This way, you get to test the software before deciding to commit.
3. Customer Support
Besides having a great product, what’s one thing that separates average companies from great companies?
World-class customer support.
Take HoneyCart, a commission-free catering order automation software, for example. Excellent customer support is one of our strong pillars:
“I appreciate the support that the team at HoneyCart has provided. From helping me figure out how to set up particular features to customizing my online menu, it’s been easier than I thought to have this create a front-end experience for my customers that is super easy to use.“
Elizabeth Choto – Grazedat Catering
Customer support is really essential to setting up a catering business online.
And that’s because from when you start setting up your online menu to when you have to fix software issues, you need proactive customer support. One that is one hand to provide an instant resolution.
Without effective customer support, it will be a challenge to offer exceptional online experiences to your customers.
So what kind of support do Caterease and CaterZen provide for their customers?
Caterease provides phone, email, and live support. While CaterZen offers email/phone support, knowledge-based resources, and a help desk.
4. Third-Party Integrations
Imagine you want to develop an app that allows people to order groceries online. You’ll need a payment platform to process payments right?
One option would be to build one from scratch.
A logical thing to do would be to simply integrate an existing payment platform like PayPal, Stripe, or Braintree.
The process of doing this is called third-party integration. It’s essential to look out for these integrations when choosing catering software.
Because you can save more time, boost productivity, and seamlessly link other software essential to your business.
Think of it as your having multiple business operations in one place.
Caterease and CaterZen do a great job with integrating different software into their platforms. They both integrate with accounting and payment processing software which are fundamental features of any catering business.
However, you shouldn’t use any software simply because it has several third-party integrations. What matters most is they fit right into your catering needs.
For example, let’s say you’re a drop-off caterer.
You’d need catering software with integrations to charge clients only after you approve their online orders. In other words, you won’t need one that works like restaurant-like software.
And this is what drop-off caterers love about HoneyCart:
“The reason HoneyCart made sense for us was the fact that I could pick times that things were available for. Every other system seemed to be very restaurant-driven, like, “Hey, I want a burrito, and I need it in 30 minutes,” whereas catering is a very different process, and I needed the option to select days and times and then, even more so, the option to approve an order.“
Jim Lenz – Co-Owner, Two Unique Catering
Now, let’s take a look at the integrations you get with Caterease and CaterZen.
- Accounting Software – Quickbooks, Sage
- Inventory Costing Software – Food track, ChefTec, Yellow Dog, CostGuard, reciProfity
- Email Marketing – Constant Contact
- Room Diagramming Software – Places, AllSeated, Social Tables
- Online Proposals – ClientPoint
- Online Ordering – Zuppler
- Electronic Signatures – Docusign
- Credit Card Processing – PayPal, Worldpay
- Staffing Software – Staffmate Online, Nowsta
- Accounting – Quickbooks
- Calendar – Google Calendar
- Credit Card Processing – Braintree, Authorize.net
- CRM – Gmail
- Point of Sale – Chowly
- Printers – Star Micronics
- Loyalty Program – Tango Card
- SEO – Nearby Now
Judging from the above, Caterease has more third-party integrations. Again, it only matters if you’ll be needing them.
Caterease Vs CaterZen Comparison Chart
|Key Features||Event management, account management, prospect management, menu management, direct deposit, standard reporting, mobile app, booking, and banquet management||Inquiry reporting, menu management, administrative management, task management, delivery management, production reports, a lead generation system, and a built-in email marketing module.|
|Best for||Event planners, caterers,||off-premise and drop-off caterers|
|Pricing||3 tier pricing model (paid monthly/annually)||4 tier pricing model (paid monthly)|
|Hosting||On-premise server or cloud-based||Cloud-based only|
|Onboarding||A primary onboarding program with data entry up to 50 pages of menus||The onboarding fee covers the onboarding specialists for 200 menu items and all customer contact information. After 200 items, there is a fee per item for entry.|
|Support||Email/phone support, knowledge-based resources, live chat||Email/phone support, knowledge-based resources, and helpdesk|
|Integrations||Constant contact, Facebook, PayPal, Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Paypal, Quickbooks Online Advanced||Authorize.net, Google Analytics, Google Calendar, Google Maps, Braintree, Quickbooks|
Final Verdict: Which one is best for drop-off caterers?
Judging by the above comparison chart, Caterease has more features. This is understandable because it doubles up as event management software.
However, the downside to this is that it will take more time to set up and use.
So if you are into event planning and you need software that has features capable of managing small scale to large scale events, Caterease is your best bet.
However, CaterZen is strictly a drop-off catering software. If you only do drop-off catering without the events part, then CaterZen is a better option.
Conclusion: A Commission-Free Platform Built with Drop-Off Caterers in Mind
If you ask most small business drop-off caterers what features they needed the most in a standard catering software, you’ll get answers like:
- Automating online order processing (to save you time).
- Pickup and delivery options
- Cut-off times and closures, with the ability to set your policies
- Customizable menus (to quickly adjust to seasonal changes)
- Menu item modifiers and selections
- Ability to set your delivery areas and delivery charges.
- Payment options such as credit cards
- Auto-assign orders to specific salespeople
- Customer self-service to make changes, cancel, or make reorders.
- Ability to set hours of operations/availability
- And most importantly, free of paying commissions to 3rd party sites.
Going through our review of Caterease and CaterZen, what did you notice?
They both offer more features than needed. Worst off, they aren’t really focused on drop-off catering.
From a distance, having more features sound like nice-to-haves. In reality, they make it more difficult to set things up, figure out how they work and hit the ground running.
In addition, you’re basically paying exorbitant fees for lots of features you mostly won’t use. And with the global pandemic still affecting revenue generation, cutting unnecessary costs should be a priority.
So what’s the alternative, you ask?
That’s where HoneyCart commission-free catering order automation software comes in.
HoneyCart is a platform developed with drop-off caterers in mind. With it, you’ll get the exact features drop-off caterers need to set up and automate online order processes.
Take Elizabeth of Grazedat Catering, a drop-off caterer, for instance.
Few months after switching to HoneyCart, she said:
“I love so many features but the reports feature makes it so easy for me to see what’s needed on the backend in terms of supplies and orders to be made, and also allows me to print delivery information for my drivers.”
Abbey Duke of Sugarsnap, another drop-off caterer based in Vermont, also shared features that made her choose HoneyCart over others:
“[HoneyCart has] features like lead times, blackout dates, and being able to charge cards later were designed for catering.”
Furthermore, HoneyCart’s simple user interface makes it easy to set up and use. In less than 48 hours, you’ll be up and running. You don’t have to wait for customer service to show you how to use any feature.
And there’s more.
With HoneyCart, your customers will find it easy to place orders without the need for any human intervention. And the result of this is more repeat sales and referrals.
Now, this is the one thing Linda Estrada of MyTacoGuy Catering loves about HoneyCart:
“Now I’m spending less time processing orders, and customers love how easy it is to place an order. No more back and forth via email. They simply go to our website, browse the menu and place their order– I receive, confirm and print. DONE!”
And the best part?
You don’t have to break the bank to lay your hands on software that gives you 100% control over your entire ordering process without sacrificing commission to third-party sites.
This way, you can save more money, process orders faster, and generate more revenue.
Ready to scale your catering business with HoneyCart?
Start your free trial right away. No credit card is required.