Drop-off catering is a simple concept, but it can be difficult to execute well. When caterers aren’t preparing and serving food on site, they need to deal with a handful of extra considerations– keeping meals at proper temperature, presenting food attractively, communicating effectively with customers and offering appealing and versatile menu options.
Michael Rosman, owner of The Corporate Caterer, serves as a consultant and trainer for corporate drop-off catering. In an article for Catering Magazine, he suggests that a solid starting point for any drop-off catering is creating a great menu. Use an existing menu as a base and focus on including items that will transport successfully, such as sandwich platters and continental breakfast items.
Offering clients options to customize their orders is also a smart idea. For example, providing a list at the end of the menu with options such as being able to replacing pastries with pancakes or rice with freshly baked bread, opens up more customization options. These types of options provide little additional work for the caterer but can make a menu significantly more appealing to a customer.
Everyone in the food industry knows the saying that people “eat with their eyes.” It may be a cliché, but there’s a lot of truth behind it. If food looks fresh, colorful and attractive, customers are far more likely to reach for it. That means presentation is a critical component in drop-off catering.
The most eye-catching dishes and platters feature pops of color, are artfully arranged and include garnishes. Also, with today’s eco-conscious customers, many appreciate being served with re-usable containers that can be picked up after the function rather than ending up in the landfills. Check out Cambro’s ShowFest Bowls and Crocks because serving dishes and utensils all add to the final customer impression.
Creating Customers That Last
Getting repeat customers means providing fantastic service with every drop-off order. That begins with being friendly, professional and accommodating to all customers, but it ultimately ends with providing fantastic food that tastes as fresh as if it just came out of the kitchen. The quality of your food will be dependent upon many factors—the most important of which is being able to keep food safely at the right temperatures. Make sure your insulated transporter is able to handle the job of keeping hot food above 140°F, even if no electrical source is present. Cold food should be transported below 40°F in order to stay fresh and safe. Also, serving lukewarm salad or cold lasagna would definitely not make for a successful catered event. To prevent this, consider Cambro’s wide selection of transporters that are fully insulated so hot food stays hot and cold food stays cold for over 4 hours. After all, part of trying to create a customer that lasts is to first not lose that customer from foodborne illness.
Cambro’s Camchillers® and Camwarmers® are other handy tools to use alongside your insulated transport units. They will help extend the cold and hot holding time of your food beyond 4 hours—an extra insurance policy for added peace of mind and something every caterer certainly craves.
Although a drop-off catering business isn’t always easy to get off the ground, it’s a worthwhile endeavor for many operators. The extra revenue, wider exposure and happy customers are long-lasting perks that can go a long way toward success in today’s food industry.
Do you have additional tips and ideas for drop-off catering? Let us know in the comments section.