Imagine this scenario.
It’s 3 PM on a Thursday. Your boss informs you of an emergency meeting at noon the next day. And he asks you to arrange food for the meeting.
After a bit of research, you found a caterer that can deliver. But to get your order delivered, you have to go through the trouble of speaking to someone on the phone, confirming your order via email, before giving them your credit card.
And the reason for this is obvious.
Customers don’t opt for third-party sites because they offer juicier delicacies than yours. It’s mostly to avoid the endless back and forth, as well as the inconveniences they must suffer calling and emailing you to place orders.
Take Enjolik R. Oree-Bailey (Chef Jolie), for instance.
She’s the founder and head chef of Low Country Quisine, a Dallas-based Catering company.
In just 14 years, she turned Low Country Quisine into the largest full-service catering company owned by an African American woman in the US. Besides catering to weddings, corporate, private, and social events, they also offer corporate drop-off catering services.
But the entire process was manual.
First, a customer has to speak to a salesperson. Then the salesperson generates a proposal and sends it back to the customer before they start processing.
Besides that being already stressful, there was another problem. They chased every customer to confirm orders, which made everything slow and inefficient.
These problems bothered Chef Jolie:
“There are times where customers may be too busy to confirm the proposal. We’re left wondering “Has she approved the menu?” because we want to start producing it as soon as we can. But if they don’t confirm it within a day, then we have to hunt them down or call to ask, “Hey, did you look at the menu? Is it okay? Is it all right? Are you ready to go forward?” This can definitely slow things down.”
It also affected kitchen preparations and disrupted her staff work schedule:
“These delays would have a ripple effect in our kitchen production because then we have to send somebody out to go pick up extra inventory. Or it can mean that we have increased labor because we didn’t receive confirmation until after someone’s almost about to end their shift. Then we have to have somebody stay late or come in early the next day just to catch up on that order.”
These were some challenges Chef Jolie faced with processing corporate drop-off orders manually.
So when it was time to pivot due to the pandemic, she knew to have any chance of success with home-delivery customers, they had to automate catering order processing.
This story is how Low Country Quisine automated things and achieved higher catering sales, using HoneyCart Commission-free Catering software.
About Low Country Quisine
“Even with these accomplishments, however, nothing makes me as happy as creating new recipes and watching others enjoy my food.”
Chef Jolie said those words in an interview with Victoria Flexner of The Story Exchange. In the interview, she shared how she left her successful corporate job to pursue her passion for cooking, thus becoming a caterer:
“In 2007 I decided it was time to succumb to my heart’s passion, and thus Low Country Quisine was born.”
Low Country Quisine specializes in Weddings, Corporate, Private, and Social Events in the Dallas Metroplex and surrounding areas.
It has regionally served many celebrities and influencers including nationally known radio personalities, Tom Joyner, Charlamagne Tha God, and U.S. representatives, Colin Allred, John Lewis.
Also, it served as the official caterer for Jerry Jones and The Dallas Cowboys for more than two years.
With all these years of experience, she never would have foreseen a global economic crisis capable of shutting down her business.
And for a business that relied heavily on events, offices, and social gatherings to generate revenue, this was such a hard pill to swallow.
But Chef Jolie is no cry baby. She applied her tough corporate experience to pivot as things got tough.
In her words:
“Since everybody was doing curbside and delivery, we decided to bring back our Gourmet Takeaway but really expand it with a broad menu that people can order online versus having to come to our location and pick it up.
Jolie wasn’t ready to endure the endless back and forth she faced when manually processing corporate drop-off orders. She needed a way to automate the business and ensure anyone, anywhere could place orders.
In her words:
“It seemed like a no-brainer to allow people to browse our menu whenever they wanted to, and be able to pay right there and decide when they want to come to pick it up.”
Unfortunately, executing this smart plan was no piece of cake.
The Challenge: Tedious & Time-Consuming Manual Process
Remember the scenario I painted at the start of this article?
Now imagine if you had the option of browsing the menu, placing your orders, and making payment online without wasting extra time speaking with staff.
I bet you would prefer that.
And the reason isn’t far-fetched.
Convenience is king for many customers. They prefer using simple, user-friendly platforms to purchase food, groceries, clothing, etc.
So when you force them to order the old-school way, especially in today’s online-first world, it becomes a huge turn-off.
Chef Jolie acknowledged this:
“In the past, we’ve gotten phone calls where you can tell somebody just wants to just know where they can go to place a corporate catering order because it’s easier for them.”
And when there’s no one available to take orders during odd hours? You’ll be turning away customers and leaving money on the table.
A challenge Chef Jolie faced:
“Without having a way for people to order right away, we have to wait for the phone to ring and somebody has to be here to answer the phone. If you miss a phone call or you miss an email for an order, then you may end up losing out on sales.”
Furthermore, it was time-consuming to process catering orders. Depending on the client, they could spend 2 – 24 hours processing each order.
According to Chef Jolie:
“It usually took us about a day to process each order, from the initial phone call to the customer confirming the order. For existing clients, there are less questions and back-n-forth, so the entire process could be 2 hours for a basic $500 lunch order.
Add this to the cost of hiring staff to process these orders, and what do you get? Shrinking profit margins!
Chef Jolie was desperate to avoid all these before launching the Gourmet Takeaway service. In her words:
“We needed to find new ways to generate revenue during the pandemic. We launched our Gourmet Takeaway Service and needed an online platform for customers to order.”
All these frustrations led her to seek a solution – catering software to automate orders, streamline processes, and increase margins.
And she found one.
The Solution: HoneyCart’s Commission-Free Catering Order Automation Software
Without a doubt, being a member of the International Catering Association (ICA) has many benefits.
An example is being able to get first-hand information about tools that scale your catering business.
Chef Jolie heard about HoneyCart from an email by the ICA. Seeing it could make automating catering orders for her Gourmet Takeaway service a breeze, she didn’t hesitate to try it out.
With HoneyCart, Low Country Quisine could easily:
Launch New Catering menus
Export Your Customers’ Data For Marketing
Securely collect credit card information upfront and conveniently store it for future use
Set specific pickup/delivery dates
Beyond these, Chef Jolie was particularly excited about one other feature. She could send her online menu link to anyone to place orders from anywhere.
She shared her excitement:
“Being able to now offer delivery as an option on HoneyCart, and being able to share a link with anybody within a 40-mile radius and say, “Hey, you can place an order,” definitely gave us a larger customer base for gourmet takeaway.”
She could place the link across her social media pages, blogs, and website.
When customers click on this link, they are smoothly transitioned to HoneyCart where they can browse her menu, place orders, add special instructions, and make payment.
All without the need to speak to anyone:
In this digital age, customer data is the new gold. As such, having access to your customers’ email addresses can help you drive more catering sales.
With their emails, you can easily send info about your new menu offerings, special promotions, discount offers, etc. HoneyCart gives you easy access to your new customers’ emails whenever they order you.
And that’s a feature Chef Jolie found invaluable:
“When the customer orders on HoneyCart, they have to enter their email address. So we download those emails and use them for email marketing. When we want to run a promo, we go after the low-hanging fruit: you’ve been ordering from me and I can reach out to say, “Hey, we’re having a sale, or we’re doing this promotion.”
It doesn’t end there.
There’s need to also store your customers’ card details. Doing this simplifies charging or refunding without requesting their card details every time.
You can tell Chef Jolie was delighted with this feature.
In her words:
“Because HoneyCart stores the customer’s credit card number, we can add changes to an order without having to get their card information again. If we need to take something off and refund them, we don’t have to say, “Give me your card info again.” That’s helpful. Even when someone calls in their order, we don’t have to ask them for the card if they’re already in the system. We go in and we do the order for them and we charge them.”
All these features made processing orders for Chef Jolie’s expanded Gourmet Takeaway Service a stroll in the park.
But what if she hadn’t found a solution? How would it have affected the business?
Well, according to her:
“We would have not been able to reach as many customers without the ability to accept orders and payments online.”
The Result: $27k Generated in Sales with HoneyCart
According to Chef Jolie:
“It would have been a lot harder to do Gourmet Takeaway without HoneyCart. I don’t think Gourmet Takeaway would sound as appealing if people couldn’t go online and look at a menu and order it the right way.”
In other words, HoneyCart made it easier for people to order for their Gourmet Takeaway Service.
And more importantly, helped them generate more sales.
A fact that reflects in their account balance:
“We generated $27k total sales for Gourmet Takeaway since starting the service in Nov 2020.”
And you don’t have to look too hard to see why.
HoneyCart was built with drop-off catering features that make managing and processing catering orders a breeze.
But that’s not all.
It also makes it easy for you to jump in and make changes to your catering menu without having to wait up to 72 hours for your I.T team. This can be frustrating especially when you make changes on the fly.
A situation Chef Jolie suffered from:
In the past for our Christmas and Thanksgiving menus, we had to contact our website people to create an order form and direct people to that. Even though their 3-day turnaround time wasn’t too bad, we’d still have to wait our turn in line.
But ever since she started using HoneyCart, she can make changes as she pleases even without technical skills:
Three days versus me being able to do it myself in 30 minutes and not having to pay a web designer $200 an hour. If we needed to make a change or add to the menu, now we can do it. I don’t have to call and say, “Hey, add this to the form, or…”
Conclusion: Adjust to the New Normal With HoneyCart
Without a doubt, using HoneyCart to automate her Gourmet Takeaway service has helped Chef Jolie save costs, save more time, increase productivity and generate more sales.
In short, Jolie acknowledged:
“It would have been nearly impossible (to launch the Gourmet Takeaway Service) without an online platform.”
But having great software to automate catering orders isn’t enough.
You also need a great support team behind the software to ensure things run smoothly. Chef Jolie also got that with the HoneyCart support team:
“HoneyCart’s support has been great with communication and receptive to our feedback and questions.”
And as the world reopens, even though she’s busy catering for weddings, social events, U.S representatives, or American football teams, she sleeps well at night knowing her Gourmet Takeaway Service fully covered. Moreso, corporate catering will be a well-oiled machine when it returns.
Like Chef Jolie, you too can save time, save costs, streamline your catering operations, generate more sales for your catering business.
The best part?
You can achieve all that without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites.
Ready to see how HoneyCart can generate more revenue for you as it did for Chef Jolie of Low Country Quisine?