If you already offer breakfast catering, you have a leg-up. Why?
* There is a demand for it.
* Breakfast is a lower food cost, and will maximize profitability.
* Approximately 25% of companies that order lunch, want breakfast catered as well.
* Approximately 50% of companies that order breakfast, want lunch catered as well.
* Almost 90% of companies that want both breakfast and lunch catered, prefer to order both from the same catering company.
If you currently do not offer breakfast catering, it is something to consider now, or in the future.
* It could be a lifestyle decision. Six breakfast deliveries that need to be delivered between 7:30-8:30 may mean that two people need to be in at 5am to start brewing and filling coffee, baking and plattering baked goods, prepping hot-food and cutting fruit. (Although fruit salad and sliced fruit platters can be done the afternoon before. (Except on Monday if you are closed on Friday).
* Like anything new, building a breakfast client base will take time. It will not happen overnight. Be prepared for some early mornings for what first might feel like minimal new business.
* It does not mean that you have to be one of the people in so early. Either you or a manager will need to be in at the beginning of the process to ensure you get out of the gate successfully. After your systems are in place, your can have orders rolling out the door every morning before you have arrived.
* Your breakfast menu will be smaller and much less labor intensive than your lunch menu. You could start by offering a simple continental breakfast, (Coffee, juice, baked-goods, fruit), and build on it over time.
* If you want to capture as much as the corporate drop-off market as possible, offering breakfast catering is part of the equation.
* Technomic Inc., a leading food service research company, reports when it comes to having breakfast delivered to businesses, that “convenience of ordering from a catering company is significantly more important than price point.”
THE ANATOMY OF A BREAKFAST DELIVERY
When a customer either calls or places an order online, ask “What time would you like breakfast set-up?" as opposed to "What time would you like breakfast delivered?” There could be a big difference.
If a customer says, “I’d like breakfast at 8 am” ask, “Does your meeting begin at 8 am?”
If it does, you probably want to schedule your delivery person to have the breakfast set-up by 7:45-7:50. Depending on the delivery logistics of their building, this may mean you schedule your driver to arrive at 7:30.
Always remember - while the food quality, order accuracy, presentation, menu pricing and customer service are all important components of your service, “On-Time Delivery” is probably the single most important factor for corporate customers or prospective clients. At the end of the day, regardless of how highly you are considered in these other areas, if a company decides you are not reliable to, “show-up on time,” they will stop ordering from you.
Of course, life dictates no corporate caterer will ever have a 100% on-time delivery record. It’s just not possible. But getting as close to 99% as you can is a goal to shoot for. If it is your first delivery to a new customer and you are late - game over. It is unlikely they will order from you a second time. Our mantra is that the first 5 deliveries need to be perfect to convert a customer to a client. When we are delivering to a new customer, I’d rather have my driver sitting in the van for 15 minutes waiting for the building to open, than to risk being five minutes late.
Both the person routing the drivers and the drivers themselves need to know the logistics of each location. (This applies to all deliveries, not only breakfast). For example, if you are delivering to a company on the 17th floor with tight security, slow elevators, and a notoriously overcrowded loading dock, you may need twenty minutes from arriving at the building to actually being able to get to the customer’s office. You also need to consider the normal traffic flow during the time of delivery. While it may usually take 10 minutes of travel time to get a lunch to a company that is 3 miles away at 11:30, it could take 20 minutes to get to the same location at 8:00am.
DELIVERY TEST RUN
If you are going to a new building for the first time, have someone (preferably, the person who will be making the delivery) take a test drive beforehand. Ideally, the test run should take place at least a day before and close to the same time as the scheduled delivery. and close to the same time. This exercise will give you the answers to:
- How long does it take to drive to the location?
- What are the typical traffic conditions in the morning?
- What is the parking situation?
- Does the route have any construction work being done that would cause a delay?
- Are there any logistics involved in getting from the truck to the customer’s office?
- Can you use the main lobby entrance / elevators or are you required to use a more time consuming service entrance / elevator?
LEVERAGE THIS WITH YOUR FIRST-TIME CUSTOMER
The test run does not need to be done quietly. In fact, if the delivery person can make their way into the office - go for it. Oftentimes the person who placed the order is the receptionist at the front desk.
“Good morning, “I’m Nathan from We Will Not Screw-Up Your First Order Catering. We are making our first delivery here tomorrow morning at 8am.Because we make on-time delivery our highest priority, we like to make a preliminary visit to all “first-time delivery” customers.”
(Optional) “I also brought you one of our fresh-baked muffins to sample,”
You may ask yourself, “Do I really want the hassle of doing test runs? How much is this going to cost me between the labor and gas? Is this a wise use of time and resources?"
IT IS WISE BEYOND WORDS
First of all, if your first delivery is late, even just a few minutes, it doesn’t matter how good the food tastes or how nice the delivery person is, forget it — game over. The business will likely not order from you again — and they shouldn’t. As a new caterer, being late is a deal breaker.
* If possible, tie this into your deliveries from the morning before, when your driver is already on the road and in the area.
* Your new customer will love that your company has taken the time to do this, and could likely share the experience with other colleagues who order catering.
WHAT HAS YOUR INVESTMENT REALLY COST?
- 1 hour of labor = $15 (estimate)
- Cost of gas/food = $3 (estimate)
- Muffin = .50 (estimate)
- Total = $18.50
RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT
- You are perceived as a conscientious and professional caterer.
- Peace of mind and a good night’s sleep for you, the delivery person, and your new customer.
- Accurate determination of what time the delivery representative needs to leave your establishment to make a successful delivery.
- It is a great PR gesture before the first delivery.
- You have significantly improved the chances of a successful delivery.
- Remember, they taking a chance on you. It is always safer to order from the caterer who has been there before.
OFFER COMPLETE SET-UP WITH ALL DELIVERIES
For any and all deliveries, the representative should offer unpack, unwrap, and
lay everything out in a neat and organized fashion. Here are some reasons why:
1. Your representative will be able to spot any missing items and address it immediately.
2. This can be a huge help to the customer, especially if they are accustomed to doing it themselves. (If they are used to doing it themselves, you may quickly become their new favorite caterer).
3. Your representative might get some insightful information by spending a few minutes with the customer while setting up.
4. “Setting-up” adds a professional touch and might give you an immediate leg up on your competition.
5. It doesn’t take much time but could go a long way.
Note: The person receiving the order may ask for lesser set-up. These include:
1. Leaving the order at front desk
2. Bringing order into room during a meeting at “quietly” lay it on the table. (In this case, ask if they would like everything unwrapped / uncovered and set-up to completion, or just laid out in proper order? (It’s a question of how sensitive the meeting in progress will be to the unavoidable noise a complete set-up will cause).
SO...WILL YOU OFFER BREAKFAST CATERING?
If your operation is already open or staffed early, consider offering an uncomplicated breakfast menu if you are just diving in. Perhaps hold off initially on offering hot breakfast entrees. This is a process. Start with a small menu and build it up over time. Work thru the kinks and develop your systems and become known for a specialty item(s).
Creating a big menu too soon may backfire. You will need to carry a larger inventory which will be added expense. Paring them menu down can be deflating. Begin with your core items – and grow incrementally.
To illustrate, a new bakery opens and they offer twenty flavors of muffins, seven days a week, until from 6am - 6pm. Six months later, you notice they serve ten flavors of muffins, and their hours are now 7am - 3pm. I guarantee that they have not condensed their menu and shortened their hours because they had more business than they could handle.
As a consumer, you might think (perhaps unconsciously) “That new bakery isn’t as busy as they planned to be... I wonder why?”
Instead, you notice signage that read, “Now Open at 5am!” or, “We Now Offer Catering Services!,” and even, “Helped Wanted.” Now you are probably thinking, “Wow, they must be doing a bang-up business. I need to check them out soon.”
KEEP IN MIND
You can’t be all things to all people. If your restaurant does not currently serve breakfast and/or if you are open later at night – you might want to work within your current hours of operation for foods you are serving. Don’t take on too much at once. This is a process. Take it a step-at-a-time. Always be mindful of the lifestyle/hours you want to commit to.
Tips & Strategies
OFFER GREAT COFFEE
Coffee is the 2nd largest import in the world. In The United States, coffee is FIRST! It would be fair to say that people need their caffeine.
* Most coffee companies are in the equipment industry as well. If you are purchasing enough coffee all the equipment, including commercial brewers, grinders, (if you are buying whole bean), pots, cleaning supplies, and sometimes even air pots are included - at no cost. Make sure you are taking advantage of this.
* Don’t skimp on what you pay for coffee. Invest is a high-quality, universally liked bean. Have your rep bring you different kinds and conduct taste tests.
* You may need to pay an electrician to install what you need to handle the equipment. Do it.
* Make sure the brewing equipment is being thoroughly and properly cleaned on a regular basis - very important.
* Make sure that you know how to check the brewing equipment is a) properly calibrated and the temperature of the coffee is in correct range. It will fluctuate due to usage and it should be checked regularly - very important.
* Talk to your customers. Ask them to rate your coffee. If at least 75% of them do not think it is great, it’s time to get your rep back in and test different types is beans. If you need to spend more per pound to get better customer feedback - spend more.
* Instead of Half and Half PC’s, switch to Light Cream PC’s. It may cost a couple more bucks per box. For your customers who use it, your great coffee will taste even better to them. (Always offer Milk PC’s as well),.
OFFER HEALTHY OPTIONS
According to the Technomic, the “go-to” research firm that focuses on the food industry, offering healthy / lighter breakfast options, ( in addition to the good ole’ egg and sandwiches and french toast), will attract new consumers and generate more business. Examples include:
* Parfaits. In addition to offering / rotating different flavor options, such as strawberry, blueberry, maple and chocolate, they can be topped with granola, quinoa, yogurt, almonds and chia seed.
* Rotating assortment of oatmeals topped with fresh berries.
* Sweet brown rice breakfast bowl.
* Sliced bananas, mangos and pears.
* Cereals such as shredded wheat and bran flakes.
* Seedy peanut butter as a spread option
* Breakfast Bars with less sugar. (“KIND” is a great option. They are gluten and dairy free - and they taste great!
More Protein (Besides Eggs)
* Apple-Cinnamon Breakfast Barley
* Breakfast Porridge
Use some prepared items, such as:
- Liquid Eggs
- Pre-shredded Cheese
- Scoop and Bake Muffins (You can absolutely market these as “Home-Baked Muffins”
- High-quality par-baked, smaller-sized (2-3 ounces) breakfast pastries, scones, and croissants These come in frozen and you bake them off in the oven. (These also qualify as “Home-Baked”. There is a difference between “Made-from Scratch”, which you are not saying.
Sometimes small details can make a big difference from your customer's perception. Research and actual practices prove that terms, such as “Home-Baked, or “New” or “Healthy” carry lots of positive weight.
Differentiate your catering menu by creating and marketing a signature item that you are know-for, such as specialty cream cheeses, picturesque sliced fruit platters or fruit salads, great coffee.
How-To-Steps & Guidelines
If your delivery person is scheduled to have the orders checked, vehicle loaded and leave your location with three continental breakfast deliveries at 7am, how much time is required to prepare the out-going orders?
- Scoop and Bake Muffins
- Par-baked Danish, Scones, Croissants
- Breads, Coffee Cakes
- Pre-heat the oven (15 minutes)
- Cooking time (15 minutes)
- Cooling time (15 minutes)
- Plattering with garnish, lids and labels (15 minutes)
Total time = 1 Hour
DURING THAT HOUR
- Coffee is brewed and poured.
- Sliced fruit or fruit salad can be prepped and plattered. Fruit, depending on the volume, can be done the afternoon before. (Tip: In this case,, top off with berries that morning. Otherwise, they will bleed overnight)
- Load delivery vehicle
Assuming that all went well with no curve balls, someone would need to be at your operation at 6am, at the latest. We have a long list of additional time-saving practices. Please contact us directly to discuss.
All deliveries must include set-ups with paper goods, condiments, and serving utensils. See supplemental document “Breakfast Catering: What Gets What” (link to come) for proven set-up guidelines. These should be assembled the afternoon before
RECOMMENDED SET-UPS ITEMS FOR CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST
(Continental is coffee, tea (on request at additional charge), juice, sliced fruit or fruit salad).
• Hot Water
• Hot Cups
• Sugar / Sugar Substitute
• Milkers and Creamers
• Tea bags
• Lemon Wedges
• Drip Plates (underneath air pots or Cambros)
• Butter / Jelly
• Cream Cheese
• Small bowls for fruit salad
• Serving spoon
When we use the descriptor “Corporate Drop-off Catering,” disposable paperware/plasticware, serving platters, lids, serving bowls, chafer racks and inserts, tablecloths and utensils is applicable for 95% of orders. For coffee and hot water, some operations use cardboard/plastic insulated “Joe-to-Go” boxes that you would see from a chain retail operation. We use, and prefer, air pots and cambros with our wrap-around logos adhesives. These need to be tracked so they can be retrieved.
CUSTOM BREAKFAST CATERING SERVICES
You don’t need to go it alone. The Corporate Caterer professionals are available to help your catering business reach its potential. We offer on-site consulting, weekly private virtual coaching, leads and contact information for companies in your target market, and more.
Custom services for breakfast catering include:
- Determine the feasibility of breakfast catering for your business
- Research competitor’s menus
- Collaborate and/or write a breakfast catering menu
- Assist in defining specialties to promote as part of your brand
- Collaborate and write breakfast specs for your “Playbook / Operations Manual”
- Research vendor options for breakfast food and beverage products
- Research vendor options for equipment, disposable service ware and paper products
- Negotiate pricing and terms with vendors
- Train your staff