As a catering company owner or manager, have you thought about what you can do to not only deliver quality food, but also a fantastic customer experience? Your behind-the-scenes processes can make or break your catering company, and you could drive your business to new heights by setting high standards for your internal processes.
From customer and order management to equipment and staff management through catering software, these are the top areas you need to focus on to excel in your catering operations strategy.
A strong marketing strategy helps you to attract clients. But what happens after you've secured your first order from a customer?
Customer retention is critical - a 5% increase in retention levels could lead to a 95% increase in profits - and so is having an efficient system for tracking your client accounts.
An all-in-one CRM and e-commerce platform supports both your staff and your customers. You can send out invoices promptly, and give your customers access to their invoices – along with things like order history and payment options – through an online account. This type of self-service system reduces demand on your staff whilst making it easier for customers to reorder and pay their invoices online in a secure environment.
You can also further reduce administrative labour with a platform that's integrated with your accounting system.
Social media and face-to-face marketing are great ways to initially engage with clients. But client management allows you to go deeper and take a proactive approach to enhancing customer experience, including sending personalised marketing messages by segment via your catering software.
Great customer care, including timely and effective communication, can enhance customer loyalty and help you retain customers. A full-featured customer management platform like FoodStorm catering software, with real-time sales information, feedback tools, and so on, can boost communication as it ensures you have the necessary customer details at any stage of the process.
Guide your team members with processes for dealing with customers so you can maintain consistent customer service across all channels. For example, one key priority might be to aim for quick, detailed responses to customer queries.
Detailed analytics and tracking allows for in-depth reporting, including customised reports. They could also improve order accuracy, operational efficiencies, and revenue. Detailed reporting gives your catering business valuable insights into things like how you can reduce costs, improve customer management, and streamline processes.
Start with a detailed contact database and log all orders and sales details at a granular level. Track quotes so you can follow up with customers. Check your sales activity to better understand customers and understand about how to drive higher revenue and profit.
You can automate reporting with report schedules, so the right teams - from sales and accounts to the kitchen - get the required information in a timely manner.
So you've converted your customer and they've started making orders. Now how do you streamline the process for your staff as well as for the customer? The answer could be by using an online order management system where you can collect all your orders in one place.
A comprehensive, all-in-one order management system can highlight your menus, load customised menus according to customer, and allow your staff and customers to track everything in real time. Internally, you can see all orders at a glance, search for orders by criteria, and access comprehensive order histories.
Two central elements to your order management are ensuring ease of ordering and using an order-tracking tool.
Note only does an online ordering system minimise demand on your staff's time, but customers might also prefer to order online because of the convenience. Online ordering systems give customers a consistent ordering experience every time, customers can self-serve, and you don't need to worry about emails and phone orders.
On the backend, a catering software CRM-integrated platform with e-commerce features designed for catering businesses will allow your website to handle the orders. Features like different pricing and menus for different customer segments, order tracking in real time, and multi-location capability boost flexibility and choice for customers. They can change, track, and cancel orders without your team having to process it.
Long gone are the days of tracking orders on paper. With online order tracking systems, you can manage both quotes and orders from a single centralised and secure database. You can view orders by search criteria (such as location or calendar date), and your team - from delivery personnel to kitchen staff - can view order changes or progress on mobile devices in real time. Automated order-tracking features could also reduce errors.
With the best catering platforms, you can confirm orders and send out quotes with a click using customised email templates. This ensures consistent, timely customer communication. Additional helpful tools to look out for include invoice, packing-slip, and run-sheet printing capabilities.
Effective equipment management can help you use your equipment efficiently and keep it in good shape. Your equipment management strategy should consist of at least two elements: a maintenance schedule and tracking equipment.
With an appropriate maintenance schedule, you'll have a better chance of keeping your equipment in excellent condition and making sure it lasts as long as possible. In addition, preventative maintenance could minimise equipment breakdowns when you can least afford them, and identify underlying issues before they get worse.
Your maintenance schedule could be a part of your asset and equipment tracking system, which might log things like condition, preventative maintenance plan, and warranty. With a maintenance schedule, you can also ensure the right replacement parts are always in stock when you need them, and you could better plan for end of life cycle and upgrades to eliminate disruptive interruptions to your catering operations.
Tracking your equipment, or assets, allows you to identify what's being used for different jobs in real time. With these insights, you can make informed operations decisions to maximise productivity. For example, with an equipment-tracking system, you could move equipment around to fulfil orders more effectively. You'll know exactly what you have, so you'll be able to manage your equipment to ensure each staff member has the right equipment at the right place and the right time.
You can also use your equipment-tracking system to inform your maintenance schedule. For example, having logged and recorded how piece of equipment has been used, you can then decide on an appropriate maintenance schedule. A formal system for tracking your equipment could also make auditing and legal reporting much easier.
The best type of equipment-tracking strategy likely involves the use of an asset tracking software system. Asset tracking through a software platform could be integrated with things like barcodes and scanners to streamline the tracking process. It should track things like location, check-in, check-out, and capabilities, and make it easy for your team members to see this in real time.
Accurate rosters and schedules, providing staff with the right training as required, and building strong, effective teams are some of the top staff-management strategies to implement through your catering software system.
Use software-based scheduling tools to manage rosters and schedules. Software tools can reduce the need for manual input, eliminate human error, and boost accessibility for all staff members. With an effective scheduling tool, you can make sure you have the right number of staff and the right team at the right time. It can also boost transparency in your work culture if you make rosters accessible as staff members know who’s being rostered for what.
Think of your scheduling and rostering system as a way to keep your operations running smoothly and drive higher productivity. It lets you fill busy shifts with the most experienced staff and easily handle availability and time-off requests online. However, remember to share the top shifts around so everyone get a turn at the most in-demand shifts. Note you're required by law to keep employee rosters for seven years.
One easy way to simplify your staff management could be integrating your catering platform with a staff management platform. With such a setup, you might be able to seamlessly schedule shifts, employees, and positions without having to re-enter data. So, for example, once you enter an event on your catering platform, you can then enter positions and shifts before having these synchronised with your staff management system. You then use your staff management system to schedule staff and teams, and this is then automatically synced back to your catering system for things like run sheets and reports. With FoodStorm you are even be able to integrate it with your accounting and payroll system.
Appropriate risk and hazard training is essential for fulfilling your duties as an employer under work health and safety laws. And a basic hygiene course could be part of your onboarding process for new staff.
Well-planned training programs also let you track and review the performance of staff members, giving you a benchmark to measure their on-the-job outcomes.
Ideally your catering staff should have expertise in food preparation as well as food-safety rules. Training can be seen as an investment that enhances the quality of your food, safeguards hygiene standards, and ensures higher standards of customer satisfaction with your service.
In addition to formal training programs, you can encourage staff development with mentor programs.
Strong teams create more efficient results than individuals working separately. So how do you or your managers build a great team?
Focus on building good relations and creating favourable conditions for work. Flexibility in terms of assigned tasks and roles on a daily basis could enable your teams to deliver the best possible customer service. Defining common goals, treating staff with respect, and rewarding team members where it's due could be other ways to motivate your teams. Creating a positive work environment for your personnel to balance work with fun could also help.
Leading by example and acting quickly to address any issues are traits of an effective leader. You or your managers should have an in-depth understanding of everyone's role - from cooks to servers - and how to motivate your staff.
Give junior staff – those without previous experience in their role – the right grounding through training. The right software to support your staff's roles can also boost teamwork and collaboration by giving team members real-time access to the right data and information, ideally with a cloud-based system.
Running a successful catering company requires careful oversight of a lot of moving parts. A centralised platform - preferably a cloud-based one - could go a long way to help you and your managers coordinate customers, orders, equipment, and staff. This type of platform makes it easy for you to issue invoices, get paid, and track customer histories, and it also supports customers by empowering them with useful features like online ordering. You could also use the platform to plan equipment maintenance and track assets for optimum usage and operations. Finally, you could integrate staff management tools like rostering software with your catering software to reduce manual data inputting and streamline reporting.
FoodStorm software is a valuable and efficient tool for any catering business aiming to increase productivity and organisation. To read more about our service offering click here, or click here to organise a free demo.