If you’re a caterer who has suddenly had all of their events cancelled for the next month and are unsure how you’re going to make ends meet, there are options you can take to keep your business going. We talked to some catering operators about how they changed their business model to create a place for them in the current marketplace. You already have client contacts and social media connections, leverage them to transform them from catering customers to one of the suggestions below:
Transform your catering service into a restaurant concept
Catering operations made ghost kitchens cool long before third party apps brought the term to the foodservice scene. Utilize your operation’s existing space by shifting your mindset from large events to small orders. Chef Evan Elman, owner of Vancouver Private Dining, and his team created ghost restaurant Urban Tatka in late 2019 and operated it out of the same kitchen as their private dining company. Now, they’re focusing most of their efforts on the fresh and frozen meals they offer via Urban Tatka. Their frozen meals are vacuum sealed and are licensed to sell from a HAACP facility.
“This helps folks who do not like cooking but enjoy Indian food and want a safe way to eat it,” said Elman.
First, identify the type of food you’re most comfortable making and create a menu you’ll be able to execute daily. Next, transform your catering operation into a ghost restaurant by creating a virtual storefront on multiple third-party apps. There, customers will be able to discover your restaurant organically. Create additional interest by marketing your concept on your social media channels and to previous catering customers. Operational changes always have a learning curve, but you may find that this new way of revenue could be something you’d like to continue in the future.
Cater to essential businesses
Essential businesses like banks, pharmacies and hospitals are still operating and in need of food for their employees. Previously, Brennan’s Catering provided catered food for hospitals during various meetings and trainings. Now, these same hospitals are ordering meals for their staff to keep them fed while they aid patients affected by the pandemic. Telly’s Grille, which regularly provides a variety of catering services, is now focusing their efforts on smaller, corporate lunch catering for local delivery. Contact your local hospitals and essential businesses to see if they could benefit from individually wrapped, catered meals delivered for their staff.
Offer prepped meals
As more people are forced to work from home, there is an increased need for prepped meal delivery. Whether people don’t enjoy cooking, don’t have time or just need a break, prepped meals are a convenient alternative. Offer customers the opportunity to create a meal plan that includes multiple deliveries per week. Rameez Parveez, owner of Basant Catering in Long Island, NY, relied on the meal prep segment of his business while he wasn’t able to cater events. To attract more interest and income, he regularly posts to his YouTube and social media accounts to showcase his business.
“In the end, we use social media platforms as an organic marketing tool, with Instagram live stories being the best way to get the word out,” said Parveez.
His best advice for caterers is to utilize social media. Check out his Instagram to see how he showcases his wide variety of menu items and recipes while maintaining a solid brand identity.
Sell leftover inventory
Many caterers are finding themselves with copious amounts of food that was ordered for now-cancelled events while grocery store shelves remain bare and overrun. Offer to sell your unneeded walk-in and pantry inventory to customers, clients and anyone who might need it. For someone who cannot find eggs or meat anywhere, this could be a saving grace that benefits you both. Advertise via email, social media and on your website to get the word out.
Catering businesses have the benefit of already knowing how to safely transport food and the equipment to do so. Rely on your Cambro insulated transport products to keep food at safe temperatures before and during delivery to customers. If your operation needs smaller and lightweight, yet durable insulated transport products to use in lieu of your heavy-duty carriers, we suggest Cambro Delivery GoBags and Cam GoBoxes. Click here to find your nearest retailer, online retailers and your local Cambro rep.