How To Grow Franchise Catering Sales

When I was 18 years old, I bought leather goods with a friend from bankrupt manufacturers and sold them to a local chain of leather goods stores. I asked the buyer how many pieces he wanted and he bought all of them. That was my first real business transaction from there I was hooked on the entrepreneurial spirit.

In 1734, Richard Cantillon defined entrepreneurs as “non-fixed income earners who pay known costs of production but earn uncertain incomes”. I mention this because that first business transaction was how I continued to learn how to provide services for an uncertain reward.

While an element of risk is a fundamental part of entrepreneurism, I believe that the true essence of being an entrepreneur is carpe diem.

Carpe diem, to seize the day, is an old Latin saying commonly used in English. It is a very important aspect of all business because windows of opportunity rarely stay open for long, which means every second counts.

For me, this belief applies to all areas of business and continues to be a sales driver in the restaurant industry. The restaurant industry is no different than music, movie or even the software industries. Ours is one full of creativity, processes, proprietary flavors and company cultures. And, it makes good business sense for our industry to leverage its intellectual property through franchising. Franchising is critical to a restaurant's strategic plan.

A franchisee is a very important community member within the restaurant industry. Happy franchisees promote positive energy, invest in their restaurant operations, and strive to meet brand standards. Happy franchisees care about results. And happy franchisees make more money!

However, the franchising business is only successful if the franchisees believe they are getting timely services from the franchisors. Good franchisors understand this service dilemma and go out of their way to invest in the proper infrastructure to provide services to their franchisee community.

Meanwhile, as a franchisee, your job is to help your franchisors understand your needs. Because off-premise restaurant catering is tied to the business strategy of your operation, it requires attention at the most strategic level. Franchisees need support to execute the off-premise catering operation with precision. This is because every restaurant franchisee today has customers asking for off-premise catering services. And saying no to customers is never an option for any growing restaurant brand. Good franchisees understand this and find a way to do it.

On this franchisee-catering journey, we need to deeply understand the delicacy of restaurant operations when it comes to catering. It requires a strong organizational foundation at the executive level committed to developing catering leadership and enterprise-level catering alignment. No business can advance without clear leadership, financial accountability and a vision for future growth. Therefore, franchisees must work with their franchisors to implement a scalable restaurant catering business focused on growing incremental sales. Franchisors can then utilize the scale and resources of the full ecosystem to now feed their customers where they live, work and play.

Whether you have one restaurant or 1000, there are 4 key characteristics of off-premise restaurant catering alignment that should be in place, agreed upon and communicated to the rest of your teams prior to any catering endeavor.

1. Clear Sales Goals: Sales goals should be posted publicly and promoted visibly within all areas of your restaurants. Growing off-premise restaurant catering sales takes a full team commitment to selling and that requires a clear vision for what your teams are trying to achieve.

2. Financial and Resource Investments:Off-premise restaurant catering can represent a high-margin sales opportunity for the right teams. A few financial and resource investments -- in the right places -- can yield incremental sales with few additional incremental costs. However, these catering investments need to be well defined, well qualified, well quantified, and committed to.

3. Training and Standardization: A commitment to personnel development is a crucial aspect to a successful restaurant catering division. It takes the ongoing development of your catering teams to solve problems and create the exceptional customer experience your brand is looking to deliver.

4. Coordinated Leadership: With the right kind of leadership alignment, there is a clear customer service action throughout every department of your organization. This includes catering team members from every department working together for the flawless execution of off-premise restaurant catering, all while maintaining existing business operations.

By following these four steps, there is ample opportunity to achieve incremental sales growth using your existing asset infrastructure. Once done, you have found your formula for economic success. So, if you own a restaurant, think carpe diem and seize off-premise restaurant catering opportunities.