Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft, said:
“If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business.”
I couldn’t agree more.
To make sense of Bill’s statement, think of the last time you purchased a product or service. You probably searched on Google, read a blog post, or found it on social media.
One way or another, seeing you could conveniently buy from a business online influenced your decision, right?
Today, the internet makes it possible to find just about any business with the click of a few buttons. And catering businesses are no exception.
In short, for drop-off caterers, customers aren’t only hoping to find your menu online. They expect to buy online and have their food dropped-off on their doorsteps.
Don’t take my word for it.
Take Elizabeth Choto of Grazedat Catering, for example. Setting up an online menu saved her 80% of the time usually spent processing orders.
In her words:
“HoneyCart made it super easy for me to build an online menu that was easy for customers to navigate and customize their orders and free up valuable time on my end for me to tackle other tasks.”
– Elizabeth Choto, Grazedat Catering
By the way, having your catering menu online isn’t something new.
As of 2016, over 60% of US consumers were already ordering delivery or takeout online at least once a week. In fact, due to Covid-19 and all the restrictions it brought, off-premise dining (which favors caterers) surged in popularity.
All of these point us in two directions…
- First, having an online presence is key to reaching both existing and potential customers.
- Second, it’s your best bet to increase catering sales beyond your immediate environment, despite lockdown restrictions.
Since you’re still here, I take it you already know these things.
Let’s dive in.
2 Ways to Setup Your Catering Business Online
First things first, it’s not enough to have an online presence for your catering business. You equally need to back it up with an automated system to process orders.
Having software that isn’t restaurant-like and built from the ground-up with drop-off caterers in mind is also essential. It’d help you review, approve, and set policies on specific menus, as necessary.
These unique advantages are what drew Jim Lenz to HoneyCart’s comission-free online catering software.
And he wasn’t shy to share it publicly:
“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. I needed the option to select days and times and then, even more so, the option to approve an order.”
– Jim Lenz, Two Unique Catering
For the sake of practicality (and not theories), I’ll show you two easy ways to set up your catering business online. You’ll also see how to automate orders, as Jim and Elizabeth mentioned earlier.
Let’s take a look at them.
1. Use Social Media Platforms
You can set up your catering business online with social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and others.
Why social media, you ask?
Well, worldwide, there are over 4.2 billion social media users.
So, imagine having a substantial following on relevant social media platforms where your ideal customers hang out. With that, you could reach thousands of people online.
Follow that up with consistent posts of compelling pictures of your delicacies and an automated ordering process. Do these, and your catering business could be up and running on social media.
You don’t need a master’s degree to get started, either.
It starts by choosing social media platforms where your target customers hang out. Next, pick a schedule that works for you to consistently post inviting images of your dishes to showcase your offerings.
Elizabeth (Grazedat Catering) adheres to these steps.
She has a Facebook page with over 1,900 loyal followers:
She also has an Instagram page too. Across these social platforms, she consistently posts inviting images of her offers:
And, as you see in the screenshot above, people reach out to place orders.
But how do you avoid the back and forth of people always asking if (or when) a particular dish is available?
That’s where an automated ordering system like HoneyCart comes in.
With HoneyCart, your customers can check what’s on your menu and when it is available. They can even place orders by themselves while you control everything from the backend with a few clicks.
All you’d have to do is create offers (and set your terms) on HoneyCart. Then, get a custom link where prospects can find your online menus.
You can either add this link to your Facebook page as Elizabeth does:
Or, on your Instagram page, as she does too:
When customers click on this link, it takes them to place orders online. There they can even select their preferred order type, when they want it, and for how many guests:
Setting up (and automating) things this way saves you time and stress. It also frees you to focus on what you do best: Cooking and fulfilling orders.
Again, that’s exactly what Elizabeth got with HoneyCart:
“The time I spent processing orders has been cut by over 80%, and it’s been such a relief and help to have more time on my hands.”
Now, the question is: do you already have social media pages for your catering business?
If so, you too can set up and automate online orders with HoneyCart (and you won’t have to sacrifice commissions to third-party sites).
To get started, start your free trial here.
In the meantime, social media isn’t the online way to set up your catering business online. You can also…
2. Use a Website
Another way to set up your catering business online is through content management systems (CMS) or eCommerce solutions.
And there are lots of them out there:
Unfortunately, none of these are built with drop-off ordering in mind, let alone handle catering businesses’ complexities.
A standard online ordering system for caterers should support features like:
- Automated order processing (to save you time).
- Pickup and delivery options (as you saw above).
- Cut-off times and closures, with the ability to set your own rules.
- Customizable menus.
- Menu item modifiers and selections.
- Ability to set your delivery areas and delivery charges.
- Payment options such as credit cards or corporate account billings.
- And customer self-service to make changes, cancel, or make reorders.
If you use most eCommerce solutions or CMS platforms out there, you’ll still have to pay for additional tools and plugins to get the features above.
And in a time when there’s limited revenue due to the global pandemic’s impact, you need to keep costs low.
So, what better option do you have?
You can use a CMS like WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix to build a website where clients can find more information about your catering services.
Doing this is essential. Do you want to know why?
It’s because the look and feel of your website are essential factors. They give you online real estate to showcase what your brand stands for – things that help to influence potential customers to order your food without tasting it first.
Take Sugarsnap Catering, for example.
On their website, they proudly share their ties to Vermont:
Once prospects get sold on your website, the next step is to offer them an easy way to place orders online. Also, you’re better off using a system that manages the entire process without the need to pay for additional features.
And that’s where menu management software like HoneyCart comes in.
To see how this works in real life, let’s take a look at Jim, co-owner of Two Unique Catering. He has a website where people can get more information about their catering services.
Then, he created several online catering menus for his delivery services with HoneyCart. And placed the customized link on his website:
When anyone clicks on the link, they get redirected to the online menu to place their orders on HoneyCart.
Setting things up this way saves time and money, as observed by Jim:
“Without a doubt, using HoneyCart definitely saves staff time. Time, in any business, is always money.”
Following the steps above will help get you set up (and automate) catering orders online for your business.
Another thing about using a system like HoneyCart is that you can set ordering policies for specific offers. Jim and his team at Two Unique Catering does this, too:
Final Thoughts: Set Up Your Catering Business Online with a Commission-Free Catering Automation Software
Catering businesses require a great deal of organization and planning skills, plus a commitment to being on time.
The reality is that people aren’t just expecting you to bring your online food business to them.
They want you to service it.
And to have a successful business, you must exceed these expectations.
To stand a chance, it makes sense to augment your online presence with automated catering software that makes it easy for customers to view your online menus and place their orders.
While there are several third-party online ordering platforms, they charge you crazy commissions on each order you get.
But with HoneyCart, you get 100% control over the entire ordering process without sacrificing commissions on every order.
In other words, every dollar that comes into your business is yours to keep.
That’s one thing Linda Estrada of MyTacoGuy Catering loves about HoneyCart commission-free catering automation software.
In her words:
“I love how I can make instant changes and updates to my menus without having to email someone to do it and waiting for days. I’m 100% in charge of my menu, my prices, and order volume.
But the BEST part is… now we get to keep all the profits from our return 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, MyTacoGuy
Did I mention it’s super easy to set up?
To see how HoneyCart can quickly help you launch your catering company online without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites…