Imagine sailing smoothly on a ship in the middle of an ocean, and out of the blue, a heavy storm hits hard.
If you were the captain, you’d have to find a way to weather the storm to avoid the ship from sinking, right?
That’s exactly what happened when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020. First, it came from nowhere. Then it hit businesses hard around the world.
Catering businesses weren’t left out.
Social distancing, lockdowns, and travel restrictions prevented people from going to restaurants or attending social networking events.
The impact of these restrictions on events and drop-off caterers came in different folds: Revenue loss, staff layoffs, and businesses shutting down.
To weather the storm and hold the ship steady, smart entrepreneur caterers had no option than to find ways to pivot to the new normal.
An example of such is Jim Lenz, co-owner of Two Unique Catering:
He adjusted to the new normal.
And doing that became the blinker of hope that ensured revenue kept flowing in to keep the lights on and thrive despite unavoidable lockdowns.
Lemme show you how he achieved it with HoneyCart.
Who Is Two Unique Catering?
Established 30 years ago, Two Unique Catering is an off-premise catering and event company based in Detroit, Michigan. They focus on weddings, corporate functions, and social gatherings.
Some of its prominent customers include professional sports teams like the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Pistons, and the USA Hockey Arena.
With the pandemic and lockdown restrictions enforced, there were no weddings, events, and offices to cater for.
And as you’d expect, it resulted in revenue losses for Jim and Two Unique Catering.
But, keen on generating continuous cash flow, Jim launched a prepared home meal delivery service during the pandemic.
Jim shared his idea:
“Over the past year, we have adapted to what it means to be a caterer with COVID around us. We launched a prepared home meal delivery service which has been popular with seniors and others not able to cook for themselves or comfortable going to grocery stores.”
Adapting wasn’t a smooth ride, however.
The challenge: Manual order fulfillment with little or no staff
Every entrepreneur starts a business with one goal – to grow the business, serve more customers and increase margins.
No doubt, having employees helps to speed up the process.
But what happens when an unforeseen situation like a global pandemic forces everyone to stay at home?
It’s either you shut down the business or do all the hard work yourself.
And in a catering operation with many moving parts, fulfilling orders manually and overseeing other operations is stressful and time-consuming.
Not to mention the cost of employing someone to do a job a software could do.
Jim found himself in this situation when he launched Two Unique Catering’s prepared meal service.
He needed time to focus on other aspects of his business “rather than taking orders manually” and to also keep costs low.
In his words:
“Processing orders by phone or email was time-consuming and full of human errors. Of course, time is money.”
Also, the customers Two Unique Catering targeted didn’t have the time to call or send emails before placing orders.
They wanted a quick, convenient way to order.
The customer, they say, is king.
Jim knew the consequences of not giving his customers what they wanted:
“Additionally, many clients were looking for a platform to place their orders, and without one, I believe we were losing business opportunities.”
At this point, Jim realized that…
To save time, increase productivity, and grow his new business, he needed a system that allowed customers to place orders themselves.
Not only that, he desired one that didn’t require the need for extra hands:
“Particularly once the pandemic hit, I found myself with less staff, which meant I had less staff having to do way MORE things, and entering orders by hand didn’t make sense when the customer could do it themselves.”
The Solution: An automated online ordering system
Imagine feeling the urge to eat a grilled cheese sandwich.
And all you need to do is go online to search for restaurants that provide it. Once you find one, you’d simply place an order.
Then, in a couple of minutes, it gets delivered to your doorstep.
Pretty straightforward, right?
Unfortunately, as is the case with most drop-off caterers, Jim’s catering business model doesn’t operate like this.
His model requires reviewing orders before approving them.
So, he needed a unique platform for caterers not geared towards fulfilling orders immediately. To find one, he researched Google to look for this functionality.
And after reviewing various systems, he found what he desired in HoneyCart – the commission-free catering order automation software.
According to Jim:
“There are a bunch of online ordering platforms out there. However, all of them were geared towards restaurants. Our model is not executing an order in under an hour that it is placed. I needed the ability to review and approve orders as they arrived.”
Another unique thing about Jim’s business model is his clients could place orders days or weeks in advance:
“Additionally, we needed the ability for clients to place orders days or weeks in advance.”
For this to work, Jim required catering scheduling software capable of placing, reviewing, and accepting pre-orders.
Again, HoneyCart came to the rescue:
Unlike other existing restaurant-like systems, HoneyCart gives you 100% control over your ordering policies weeks or months in advance.
The best parts?
First, you can do all that and grow catering sales without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites. And setting it up is easy and pretty straightforward.
In short, you can be up and running in less than 48 hours.
That was the case with Jim:
“Setting up my (HoneyCart) account was very easy, and I had it up and running in less than two days.”
The Result: Saved 30+ hours a month and increased productivity
Since Jim started using HoneyCart for his prepared meal service, he no longer has to fulfill orders by hand.
Now, he saves 30+ hours a month:
“The system lets the client drive and do all of the work. We simply review and approve. This was one hourly person’s entire job.”
Beyond doing all the order placing work, with HoneyCart, you can set ordering policies including a minimum order amount for how much customers must spend.
As you can imagine, all this saved time allowed Jim enough time to focus on other aspects of the business:
“Without a doubt, using HoneyCart definitely saves staff time. Time, in any business, is always money.”
When switching to new software, your customers may have issues using it.
And if it’s too complicated, they’d have no other choice than to go somewhere else that makes it easier to order.
That wasn’t the case with Jim and Two Unique Catering’s customers.
They found it quite easy to use.
Here’s what he said about how his customers reacted to HoneyCart:
“There was a small learning curve. After coaching a few people, usually an older person not computer savvy. Overall it was very welcoming and positive.”
In other words, HoneyCart comes built-up with ease of use and customer experience in mind. That’s essential because customer experience is crucial to selling online.
Conclusion: HoneyCart gave Jim more than automated ordering
The most important thing for Jim was running his prepared meal service business effectively, even during a global pandemic.
He needed that to keep the ship afloat. Most importantly, he needed a way to have menus with specific items for each week to keep food costs low.
This way, he is not fulfilling his whole menu every day. Each week’s inventory can be planned in advance.
As you’ve seen so far, he got all that in HoneyCart:
But having great software to automate catering orders isn’t enough. You also need a great team behind the software to sleep nicely, knowing things won’t break while you do so.
Again, Jim got that in the team behind HoneyCart:
“Amazing support! Super responsive and truly cares about making the product the best and most efficient it can be for your business.”
No wonder, asked if he’d gladly recommend HoneyCart to other caterers, Jim (as Elizabeth of Grazedat Catering did) smiled and said:
“1000% yes, I already have :)”
Like Jim, you too can save time, streamline your catering processes to boost productivity and increase sales for your catering business.
And you can achieve all that without sacrificing commissions to third-party sites with catering automation software like HoneyCart.
Ready to see how HoneyCart can scale your catering business as it did for Jim of Two Unique Catering?