Fulfilling catering orders online to clients has become part of caterers’ daily lives.
Today, your catering business almost can’t live without it.
But have you ever wondered when the first delivery in the food industry took place?
You have to go back as far as the year 1889.
Raffaele Esposito, a famous Naples chef, was asked to prepare and drop-off pizza to King Umberto 1 of Italy and Queen Margherita of Savoy.
He delivered not just one but three different hot, sizzling pizzas and even got a letter of recognition from the Queen.
Little did he know pizza and food delivery, in general, would become a trend for many catering businesses as we know it today.
Without question, that’s now our reality.
Per research by Statista, revenue in the Online Food Delivery segment would reach $151.5 billion in 2021 and a projected market volume of $182.3 billion by 2024.
Also, with lockdown restrictions and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s no doubt online food delivery is here to stay.
But running a profitable catering company in a world now driven by online ordering is no walk in the park.
There are so many moving parts.
And in this day and age where the competition is high, you must fulfill your customers’ demands to keep the lights on.
So how do you keep up?
This is where Catering Automation technology (where you don’t have to sacrifice commissions for each sale you make) comes in.
Imagine a system that gives you complete control over your menus, policies, clients, and the entire ordering process.
Using such a system, you’ll grow your catering sales with confidence and stand a chance against the big guns.
Abbey Duke, the Founder of Sugarsnap Catering, found that to be the case when she switched to HoneyCart.
In her words:
“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
This guide will show you how using automated ordering software like HoneyCart can increase and automate your catering sales and business.
But before we dive in, let’s take a look at…
The Need For Automation in The Catering Industry
Imagine you wake up every morning to see new orders without any human interaction.
You’d be thrilled, right?
This is what automation does.
In today’s world, customers demand swift services and safe food with no compromise on the taste.
You must meet their demands consistently.
Otherwise, they’ll gladly run into the arms of your competitors.
This is why there’s need for catering automation in the industry.
It speeds up the entire ordering and delivery process, making your business more organized and profitable.
As catering expert Meryl Snow explains in Catersource, COVID-19 has shown that:
“We can’t predict the future—there’s no getting around that. However, what we can do is prepare our businesses for whatever may come. Rather than sitting around and waiting for the pandemic to disappear, let’s use this time to commit to working on our businesses and, as a result, lifting the industry as a whole.”
– Meryl Snow, Senior Catering Consultant
What’s one way you can commit to working on your catering business (and uplifting the industry), you ask?
Leverage automation in your catering ordering processes!
And the benefits of automation are numerous.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Benefits of Automating Your Catering Business
1. Saves Time
Let’s assume you get around 20 – 30 orders per week.
For each person that calls, you have to put their details and order on a spreadsheet or a Google form.
And it could take 10 – 15 mins to process each order manually.
This process is stressful and time-consuming.
Not to mention the back and forth between you and clients either via phone or email.
However, automating your catering business saves you a lot of valuable time you can use to focus on other essential aspects of your business.
Take Elizabeth Choto, founder of Grazedat Catering for example.
Here’s what she had to say after giving our catering automation software a try:
“I saved SO MUCH TIME!
Before, I’d take orders manually and input those into a spreadsheet. I even did the whole Google Forms bit, but even that required me to text back and forth with my customers or spend more time on the phone than I really needed to answer the same questions each time.
Using HoneyCart makes the ordering process so much easier! My customers can see exactly what’s available on which dates, and customers can book in one seamless experience.”
– Elizabeth Choto, Grazedat Catering
And as renowned food and travel blogger, Beth D’Addono mentions in Very Local New Orleans: “Her online menu showcases Choto’s versatility and creativity.”
But this is only possible when you use an automated ordering system.
2. Gives You More Control
One crucial thing every entrepreneur requires to remain sustainable (and in business) is an efficient organization.
And as provider of catering services are no exception.
You have to manage orders, track inventory, organize your staff, and provide customer support.
This can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting with little or no staff to help out.
But automating your catering business gives you complete control over the entire process.
3. Reduces Human Error
If there’s one thing customers hate, it’s getting a mixed-up order.
But this is bound to happen if you take orders manually.
And this can lead to unsatisfied customers, which could be detrimental to your business.
But automating your catering business eliminates costly mistakes as customers go online to place their orders themselves.
It reduces miscommunication between your staff and your customers so you can get every order right.
And if you need to adjust an order for any issue, having a streamlined process to manage everything becomes even more pertinent.
For instance, let’s say a customer places an order, and you needed adjustments to serve them even better.
Without a streamlined process in place, you’ll find it challenging to effectively handle the back-and-forth, which breeds customer satisfaction.
But with an order automation tool like HoneyCart, both you and your customer can make changes in real-time and streamline all the back-and-forth communications:
The benefits of automating your catering business don’t end there.
You can restrict availability for orders only for certain days of the week.
And that brings us to the next point.
4. Customize Your Ordering Policies
Imagine your customers always calling to ask questions about what’s on the menu.
Or, they’re always expecting you to be available to fulfill their orders at their beck and call.
This process can be tiring.
But with an automated ordering system in place, it will be easier for them to see what’s on the menu and place their orders.
You can also set a minimum amount for each order, how much lead time is required as well as the days and times available to choose from.
This way, you only get to fulfill their orders at your convenience.
Now that you know some benefits of automating your catering business with software, let’s look at five effective ways to grow catering sales with automation.
5 Effective Ways to Grow Catering Sales with Automation
1. Use a System to Speed Up Ordering Process
When starting your catering business, you may use a spreadsheet to receive orders from customers.
But as your business expands, there are so many processes to keep track of.
And it can be a nightmare to do this without the help of an automated ordering system.
Using an ordering system makes it easier and faster to process and deliver orders.
But rather than building a system from scratch – which will take a lot of time and resources – there are lots of existing online ordering systems you can use.
For example, Honeycart is an online ordering system that allows you to automate your catering business without sacrificing commissions.
This means you have 100% control over your ordering process without paying any third-party site.
2. Give 100% Branded Customer Experience
Here’s something you should know…
Having a great product or the lowest price is no longer going to cut it in today’s world.
If you want to attract and retain life-long customers, you need to provide them with the best experience.
In fact, research shows 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.
And in the catering industry, delivering an exceptional customer experience means giving your customers what they want when they want it.
This is only possible with automation.
They go online to your branded portal, place their orders, enter their delivery details (because they know and trust your brand), make a payment, and await their order without any hassle.
And you can attend to their queries without an intermediary (third-party sites in this case). This way, you end up providing a level of service that’s exceptional.
There’s no doubt providing excellent customer service will lead to more repeat sales and referrals, which will grow catering sales for your business.
And this brings us to the next point.
3. Reward Your Loyal Customers
If you have customers who keep ordering from you, how do you retain them?
How do you keep them away from the claws of your competitors?
Especially when acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.
One way to achieve this is by rewarding their loyalty.
According to research, 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards.
So, rewarding your loyal customers is a fantastic way to appreciate them because it will keep them coming back for more.
And this will go a long way in growing sales for your catering business.
Whether you choose to reward your loyal customers with great discounts on their next order or initiate a loyalty program, you need a proactive and easy way to manage the entire process.
With HoneyCart, you can do that (and more) in a breeze:
4. Create Irresistible Menu Offerings
Who doesn’t love a good deal?
Giving your customers offers they can’t resist will help improve sales.
And how do you do this?
Create special menu offerings by combining two or more menu items at a discounted price.
For example, you can have a category like “special offers” where your customers can check out what’s on the menu.
Here, they see different juicy menu items at a lesser price than if they buy them separately.
This way, they get to increase their spending since they are going to save more money.
But this can only happen with an automated system like HoneyCart.
5. Create a FOMO Effect for Special Orders
Here’s a rule of thumb:
People always want what they can’t have.
So, what if you make unique mouthwatering dishes available only on specific days?
Or only a limited quantity of certain menu items.
For example, you can say Chicken Kebab & Persian Rice is only available on Mondays & Wednesdays.
You’d create a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) effect.
This means more people will order this dish on the days it’s available.
And you can do this for two, three, five dishes.
But to make this work, you need a system to automate the process.
HoneyCart allows you to create special menus, categories and menu items and make them available only on specific days or dates.
Conclusion: Grow catering sales without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites
You’ve seen the benefits of having automated catering software and how it can increase sales.
It saves time, reduces human error, takes the stress off you and your staff, increases productivity, gives you control, and improves customer experience.
And happy customers lead to repeat business and referrals.
However, while there are several third-party ordering systems, they charge you crazy commissions on each order you get.
But HoneyCart gives you total control over the entire ordering process without sacrificing commissions for every order.
This takes away the rat-race of competing for sales with others on third-party platforms, and you get to keep every dollar that comes into your business:
“HoneyCart really is the best investment you can make. The cost can be made back in as little as one order. So no more needing to give up any commission to third parties for EACH order.”
– Linda Estrada, Founder, MyTacoGuy
Like Linda, founder of MyTacoGuy rightly says, nothing beats investing in software that will scale your business.
So, to see how HoneyCart can easily help you automate your catering order processes without sacrificing commissions…