When we talk about the 5 Pillars of Restaurant Catering, one of the most important elements of delivering a successful off-premise catering program is sales. No off-premise program can thrive without the proper sales tools designed to grow the business.
As a sales tool in the hands of your customers, online and mobile ordering has the ability to connect customers with your brand through the use of technology. According to The Mobile Life Infographic, people who place mobile and online orders may spend up to 30% more than people who place orders in-store. Putting the power of ordering into the hands of your customers is smart business!
When it comes to catering transactions, many orders are placed by administrative personnel and sales reps who are looking to feed large groups of people. These customers are looking to place orders quickly and easily, skip the line and prepay for their transaction. Of course, they are doing this with the expectation that orders will be delivered correctly and on time.
This is where online and mobile ordering becomes an important tool to drive sales because it provides a convenient tool that customers will use over and over once they have had a successful online transaction.
Now, before we go further, allow me to point out the obvious. Online and mobile ordering tools are useless if your catering operations are not in order. So, before you jump into the online ordering game, invest in the proper catering tools to help you execute all those online orders. Don’t rely on your POS system because it won’t work for catering transactions!
Here are five key things to consider for your online ordering platform:
1. Make your platform user friendly. The harder it is for a customer to order through your online or mobile platform, the easier it will be for them to use one of your competitors. Make your online and mobile ordering platforms customer friendly, intuitive, and set up in a way that speaks to the needs of your customers. Ease-of-use is key when it comes to delivering a predictable and scalable order experience for your guests.
2. Determine the best way to drive frequency. This can be done through promotional offers or discounts given on group orders over a certain dollar amount. Or, it can tie into a catering rewards and loyalty program for your clients. Reward the person making the order, as they are the ones who will be responsible for future orders. Play up your strengths and communicate to your customers that these platforms enable an easy and reliable ordering transaction.
3. Drive in-store traffic to your online and mobile ordering platforms. Place signs in your windows and near the counters that promote your catering program and online/mobile ordering platforms. Increase awareness that these tools exist to make the ordering process as simple and seamless as possible. If orders are called in to your restaurants, train your staff to redirect callers to your online or mobile platforms for future use. You can even offer them a promotional code for using the service when they place their next order.
4. Reward first-time users. Do not hesitate to incentivize first-time users of your online and mobile ordering platforms. Customers find it easier to redeem coupons and promotions online or through mobile devices, and will do so when prompted. This means that restaurant operators have an increased opportunity to promote their off-premise program through promotional offers that will drive online and mobile ordering, increasing sales as a result. You can then follow-up with these first-time users in an effort to gather important information about their experience.
5. Follow-up after the customer’s experience. This is a great way to gather feedback about your online and mobile ordering process. Find out what your customers like and what should be improved. Did they have any concerns after they placed their order or was everything to their satisfaction? Ask the right questions and you will have a better understanding of your online and mobile ordering process.
The right technology tools will give you the ability to substantially grow your off-premise profitability. Meet the ordering needs of your customers and they will reward you with continued service.
Let’s talk catering!
Erle Dardick is a 15-year catering veteran, business turn-around expert, best known for helping multi-unit restaurant executives create successful catering revenue channels. Erle founded MonkeyMedia Software to provide catering solutions to multi-unit restaurant operators. He also is the author of “Get Catering and Grow Sales! One Monkey’s Perspective: Catering Defined for the Multi-Unit Restaurant Executive,” and is founder of the MMS Catering Institute.