5 Reasons Why Technology Needs to Be Part of Your 2021 Catering Business Plan (COVID-19 Edition)
Are you a catering company feeling lost at sea during the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic? While some areas are seeing re-opening of events, there is still a lot of uncertainty for our beloved industry to navigate through.
Since we can’t predict when our “new normal” will resume and bring back prosperous and flourishing businesses, we can recommend a few important technology components that can help along the uncertain journey. So we’ve compiled a list of 5 ideas you can be focused on today and through 2021:
Email Management Software
Email management software platforms are a great way to stay in front of your contacts and let them know you are still available for service. Sometimes simple awareness is all you need to re-start those conversations. Let them know you are offering touchless family pickup meals, touchless corporate drop-offs, or even the “micro-celebrations” when appropriate.
Creating email campaigns in these systems is super easy with many standard templates to get you started. At TPP, not only do we use Mailchimp for our marketing needs, but our catering software also integrates seamlessly with it. Mailchimp even have a FREE starter version for less than 2,000 contacts!
The process is simple. Generate a list of names you would like to touch from your catering software or Outlook address book, create a template in your marketing software, and schedule out the email blast. Before you know it, the responses back will be flowing in.
Another email management software we like is Constant Contact. Plans start at $20 per month which is still a small price for the additional revenue it will create.
Make your website more COVID-19 appropriate with these subtle changes:
- This may sound simple, however, be sure to acknowledge on your home page that you are taking all of the necessary safety precautions to handle and serve food. Put this front and center!
- Replace those images of large events with hundreds of people and big tents with images of smaller more intimate gatherings. For most regions still doing smaller event catering, this is going to resonate well with your audience. Did we think before COVID-19 the term “micro-celebration” would be a thing?
- If you don’t have a page already, create a Venues page where you are able to hold events. Your clients may not even be aware of your ability to cater at that particular location.
- Refresh your testimonials with ones that specifically address your reimagined operation during the pandemic. This is a great time to ask your sales team to reach out for those testimonials and solicit new reviews.
Online Industry Resources
Internet Forums and industry resource websites can connect us with our industry peers and contacts. Better yet, it’s just a click away! These resources and websites (listed below) can provide inspiration on what others in the catering and restaurant industry are doing right now. It may also provide insight into how they are thinking about adapting their businesses creatively, how they are feeling, and what is or isn’t working for them right now. There is comfort in sharing and knowing the industry is truly “in this together” and not just a slogan.
- International Catering Association (ICA) Facebook Group This one is probably one of the biggest for anyone in our industry! All the movers and the shakers in the catering world look to this organization for information! There are almost daily discussions of extremely important topics relevant to COVID-19 happening here. We like this forum too because it’s a safe place that’s very respectful.
- catersource.com Catersource is everything from breaking industry news, helpful information, podcasts, and an on-line magazine. The annual conference has been moved to July of 2021 and depending on the pandemic, this could be a good option to network in-person.
- National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) Event central over here! This is the hub for all of the events and interesting networking opportunities within the world of catering. Check out their website for more information!
- CaterBuzz Facebook Group This is a caterer only group – no vendors allowed! So without being able to see under the covers, we have heard great things about the group. From their Facebook page: “Welcome to the CaterBuzz, the global social media hub for caterers & event professionals. Focusing on all things catering.”
- REBOUND with Frank & Jen Need some virtual coaching? From Fulton Market and Consulting’s website: “[The industry needs] immediate coaching to navigate the remainder of 2020….As two nationally-recognized hospitality consultants, we have developed a collaborative initiative…. Joining forces, we have created a holistic, strategic advisory program to approach the challenges you are already tackling. We will re-teach you how to evaluate your business to resize for the rebound during this crucial time.”
In an increasingly digital catering and restaurant world, ordering and payment platforms are making it even simpler for customers to order food, make payments, and reserve time/equipment from catering businesses. Considering some of the unexpected obstacles this year caused by COVID-19 to the catering industry, online pickup and delivery platforms are helping by potentially making some lemon meringue pie from those lemons.
We’ve noticed increased popularity with utilities like Square and Toast. The TPP team has worked on an online prototype using the Square platform. It’s super easy to use and in some cases you can have a complete ordering system built (with payment processing!) in just a few hours. We recommend at least checking it out!
A Catering Software Solution to Organize it All
Now more than ever it’s time to get organized. With a reduced number of events and minimized profits it’s critical to be as streamlined and analytical as possible. It’s not only imperative to generate Proposals quickly and efficiently, but to understand the costs before sending those Proposals out.
Your catering system will certainly help generate those email marketing lists mentioned above!
Currently using a system? Now is the time to do all of the tasks you have been meaning to do! Enter those recipes, create the packlist associations, link to your accounting system, de-activate unused menu items, and any number of other tasks to properly maintain an efficient system. Ask your provider to do an account review of all your data. At TPP, our Client Care team has been focusing heavily in this area with a lot of success for our clients.
Not using a system? Take a few minutes today to see if our catering solution is a fit for your unique business.
But most important, over any technology, please stay safe and healthy as you navigate your personal journeys.
— The TPP Team