Quick-service restaurants may find that adding a catering component adds much needed revenue as sales dip due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As more Americans return to the workplace following the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, more companies are returning to catering for lunch options. The market size of the catering sector in the U.S. is forecast to reach approximately $12 billion in the U.S. according to Statista, reflecting an increase over $11.35 billion in 2020 caused primarily by workers leaving the office to work at home during the pandemic.
Quick-service restaurants like Jimmy John’s and Chick-Fil-A have successfully added catering components to their operations based, in part, on the availability of delivery. But as more restaurants grapple with staffing issues, delivery can be difficult to achieve.
“Catering orders are extremely valuable to restaurants due to their high margins and high order values,” Mike O’Hanlon, ezCatering’s head of catering partner business told QSRweb. “Plus, with restaurants everywhere facing massive labor constraints, catering can help. It takes less work to fulfill a $300 catering order than it does to fulfill 30 individual $10 orders. Additionally, catering orders are often prepared outside of the typical breakfast and lunch rushes, keeping employees active on revenue-producing activities throughout the day.
“Office catering in particular is a huge opportunity for QSRs right now. With offices reopening across the country, catering demand is increasing fast because food plays an important role in the workplace. Many have moved to a hybrid workforce model, and food is a great way to draw employees in. In fact, 81% of leaders agree that offering free meals and snacks is the best way to incentivize workplace attendance.”
Villa Italian Kitchen does approximately $6 million in catering annually, Stephanie Beamer, divisional vice president of catering, told QSRweb in a phone interview. Chicken parmesan is their most requested menu item, as are their Villa Value packages, pre-set packages of pasta or an entrée, salad and rolls that feed 10 guests.
Villa has a centralized 1-800 number for catering where the orders and payment are taken and then passed down to the local store. Some restaurant managers do the deliveries themselves or Villa uses third-party delivery services to get the food to the guests.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, catering is probably an 11 in order of importance,” Beamer said, “especially during COVID and in this whole environment that we’re in. The nature of consumers has changed in terms of how they eat. We’ve really catered to them in terms of offering family meals so that it’s not just B2B but it’s B2C as well.”
Consider these tips when adding catering to operations:
Mandy Wolf Detwiler is the managing editor at Networld Media Group and the site editor for PizzaMarketplace.com and QSRweb.com. She has more than 20 years’ experience covering food, people and places.
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