Restaurant Rockstars Episode 318
Restaurant Catering as a Profit Center
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Here’s a Fact…You can’t have too many Profit Centers in your operation!
Most operators think they sell food & drinks. Instead, we should be selling experiences both inside and outside our restaurant. One of the biggest needle movers to increased sales and profit is restaurant catering.
You already have satisfied guests that love your food. Where these customers work and recreate is an opportunity. Your community has business, sporting and other events just looking for great tasting food and convenience. Why not capture these opportunities, increase awareness for your restaurant and build goodwill at the same time? This is a ready and waiting opportunity for you to start catering.
In this episode of the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, I’m speaking with Michael Attias, the CEO of Caterzen.
Listen as Michael explains:
- How to start catering in your operation
- The types of cuisines and the ideal foods for catering
- Establishing and finding regular catering clients
- The importance of building, maintaining and marketing to your restaurant database
- Catering production and efficiency tracking for staff, product and procedure
Caterzen offers a turn-key catering solution to start today. Check out their free demo and trial at www.caterzen.com
Watch or Listen to this episode and then go out there and Rock YOUR Restaurant!
Connect with our guest
everything that touches the customer is marketing, because it’s a point of influence to say, Do I want to do business with this person again? And we always think marketing is oh, look at this cool Facebook ad. Oh, isn’t it cool? Or look at this YouTube video that I put together. Isn’t this beautiful? No. I mean, really, it’s it’s everything that influences that customer and prospect.
Hey, it’s Roger, back at you at the restaurant rockstars podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’m a huge believer in having multiple profit centers in your operation. And this is more important now than ever, with rising costs inflation, recession on the horizon. It is so important to not only maximize every sale in your business, but obviously maximize the profit on every sale. So this week’s guest has a turnkey catering solution. We’re going to talk all about how you can add catering to your restaurant business. Thanks so much to the sponsors this week whirks, the birthday club, SRV and popmenu. Now on with the episode. You’re tuned in to the restaurant rockstars podcast powerful ideas to rock your restaurant. Here’s your host, Roger Beaudoin.
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Welcome back everyone to the restaurant rockstars podcast. I’ve always been a big believer in having multiple profit centers in your restaurant and really being focused on profits now is so important. So with me today is the founder and president of a company called caterzen. His name is Michael Attias. Welcome to the show, Michael, how are you today?
Hey, Roger, happy Thursday.
Happy Thursday to you thanks for being with us. Now this is really exciting topic. And it’s going to obviously be really robust. We’re going to dive into you know what Catering is all about what the different opportunities are in catering. And then we’re going to talk all about how you automate the entire system for restaurants to put a catering system in place in their operation. So we always start with the backstory of my guests. We’re all eager to hear. How did you get into this business, even if it goes back to when you were 15 years old, up to the present day. And then what led to caterers and in terms of hospitality. Y
ou know, it’s funny. You never know where life is going to take you and when you went when there’s something you want and you don’t get it, it’s a disappointment. But if you really look back, you know the universe has a bigger plan for you. But first job I tried to get a job at a men’s clothing store got turned down for that got turned down working in a grocery store. A friend of mine was a busboy at a restaurant and I got a job washing dishes. And this is when there was a stack of applications this thick to get a job as a dishwasher. You know, you wish those days were there. So I got a job as a dishwasher did a such a crappy job that made me a busboy within a month, worked my way up there. They had done some catering there. And I knew it was profitable is sort of cool. But I mean, I didn’t really pay attention until I ended up in northeast barbecue in college, and they did a ton of catering. Like every day, they’d have 5,10,15 orders go out the door, and they they opened to the public, it was very, very profitable. So I saw the business model I saw that was free advertising. And people love their food, and they did full service as well. But the one thing I couldn’t wrap my head around is like these people aren’t stupid. They you know, they come from a family business people but you know, every time somebody picks up the phone and calls to order a catering, what’s your name? What’s your address? What’s your company? Where is it getting delivered to what’s your credit card number, and then the manager has spent an hour every afternoon adding up the tickets for the production planning. I’m like, you know, most people don’t even know what debase three plus is. But if I knew how to use debase, debase three plus, I could write it just a simple program to put on a PC. To do this. Sow the seeds for this company were planted when I was probably 2021 years old. Fast forward, I became a quirky franchisee over a million dollars a year in catering out of 140 restaurants or traveling around the country, teaching other restaurants at at catering as a profit center. And then when I sold out. And 2005 got a divorce was rebuilding my life bootstrap the software company. And you know, we launched in Oh, eight. And we’ve just been growing and going since then.
Wow, that’s a great story, Michael. So obviously, the brainchild for this was you’re young, you know, young person experience in this business. And wasn’t it fortuitous that you didn’t last as a dishwasher you got promoted a busser, you say things happen to you when you least expect it. And that was sort of the beginning the seeds for this business. I often love to tell people that my very first job in this business was a dishwasher also in similar to you, I was very quickly promoted to bartender because they saw something special in me. And it was really amazing, where I learned the basics of hospitality. You know, anybody can wash dishes and that sort of thing. But when you actually have to interact with the guests, and give them special treatment, this was a private country clubs. So of course, these guests obviously expected that they were treated like VIPs, I quickly caught on to that. And then I started making tons of money, because every time I made them a drink, they’d be tossing me $10 bills. And this is when I was in high school, you know? And I’m like, wow, yeah, the money was great, but it was really about I cared, you know, I wanted to give them a good experience. And, you know, who knew that I ultimately be in the restaurant business, just like you, you know, you became a franchisee for core keys. And that’s your story. I mean, you had to be 18 to bartend. So I waited tables a lot sooner if I could, because that’s where the money was. And I was, you know, dealing with people and upselling and all that good stuff. I do want to point something out.
And I try to teach my team this. It’s like, you need to wake up every day looking for problems to solve, to permanently eliminate them.
So I’ll give you an example. It’s like, you know, you open up a restaurant, and, you know, you come in in the mid shift. It’s like, How come no one turns on the sign? Right? And you get frustrated? Well, no, you create a system, I got an opening checklist, right? And the same thing in our company, where we’re basically just in the problem solving business, like I don’t like people, I love people, but I don’t like employees. Right? Because the more employees your problems, and opportunities for problems exponentially grow. So if you can create a system, by software, install something that’s going to save somebody in our time or two hours a time, you know, then you put that in place. So I’m always looking not only in our own business, but you know, when I had my own restaurant, I was always looking how do you solve problems? You know, and that could be operational problems, but also sales problems, you know, how do you put in an upsell script? How do you put together a package you know, arrange your appetizers menu, you know, lay out your menu. How can I do things that are gonna make me more money so I don’t have to deal with this, these problems or opportunities again, right? So there’s all these different and I think I learned that from No, I don’t think I learned that from Michael Gerber was the first guy you know the E Myth. Of course, sort of planted the seeds, but it’s the way my brain thinks is how to solve a problem. And most people they get, they wake up every day and they deal with the same shit. It’s like the guy who hits his head against the wall, he just had to get, like, you know, move over two feet and the doors. They’re like, why are you running to the wall
the definition of insanity, right? You keep doing the same things over and over again expecting a different result.
Exactly. Yeah. Okay, well, that that makes perfect sense. Now, you mentioned a moment ago about, you know, 10-15 orders out the door before the business was even open for business and operating to the dining, public, that sort of thing. So that is a very basic way of starting a catering or operation. And then as you grow into this business, now we’re talking about doing private functions and events outside your operation, doing weddings and banquets and lunches for big companies. And it’s the possibilities are really, really endless. So we’re going to talk about everything in between. But right now, what you mentioned about labor was was a critical point because you want systems in place, you don’t want to bring in more people, you want to do more with less, but the systems allow you to do that. So I really liked that first, especially not during this labor challenge where everyone is struggling with labor.
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Let me ask you Is it possible to attract catering clients during the times when we most need the business? Like every businesses, every restaurant is probably busy on Fridays and Saturdays and weekends and that sort of thing. But Monday Sunday’s might be a little slower. And ultimately, if you grow this, there’s opportunity throughout the week. But is it really possible to like somehow find clients to fill extra orders out the door? Even if it is that simple during slower times? Do you see that happening? Much?
I mean, it’s chicken in the egg. There are opportunities. But if you’re just looking for those answers now, right? And let me find like big days to do drop off lunches is Fridays, right? It’s sort of a lazy day around the office, we’re gonna bring in line. So those were always busier corporate drop off days for us. That’s a sweet. Yeah, so same thing when we did full service events, you know, everybody’s getting married on the weekend. They’re doing company picnics on the weekend. But we did have events where we do holiday parties during the week, because you know, they’re not gonna make their employees come in tea with fellow employees on a Saturday night. They’re gonna be with their families. So there are opportunities, you know, we did a lot of Black Friday catering. So one day a year on that Friday where we would have been dead. We were busy. So it’s sort of 5050. But I think the I think that the bigger question asked is, What do you really want to do? And where are the opportunities? And so when I use the word catering, you know, you probably grew up thinking Catering is like, you know, if your parents went to a wedding, it was catered, right. You know, holiday party catered? Well, catering is really what I consider if you’re seeing, let’s say, 10 or more people, any kind of food, it’s catering, and it’s even taking a broader so where most restaurants start off with is what I call corporate drop off or self service catering. Now,the opportunities, you know, we had 123 1000 on the books in my restaurant before we unlocked the doors. Most days. People aren’t in offices as much.
So you’ve got to figure out who is in offices and go after those people, right. There’s distribution companies, there’s warehouses, there’s medical complexes, you know, doctors can’t not come in to the office, right? Can medical uses
Oh, yeah. So you’ve got to figure out what you know, it’s the old, they asked this famous bank robber, why’d you rob rob banks? He goes, because that’s where the money’s at. Right? So you got to know where the money’s being made. And that’s Yeah, well, I tried this doesn’t work, right. There are still opportunities. I’m now considering private party room bookings, catering, right? Because it’s really a captive catering. You know, if you had a hotel, it’d be a catered event and one of your banquet rooms, right, or bar. That’s right, exactly the room. It’s the same marketing, it’s the same operation. So we’ve expanded our software to be able to do start and end times for rooms and events. So you could book that, but it’s the same marketing, it’s the same operations, you know, do you really want to do 50 individual meals, or have people order off the menu? No, you can’t the kitchen because you’re like, Hey, pick between, you know, we’re gonna bring out an assortment of beverages, you know, this is what everyone gets to pick, this is what the appetizers are for the table, then we’re gonna let everyone pick between one of three entrees, and we’re gonna bring everyone a choice of two desserts. And then obviously, coffee, tea, soft drinks, and we’re gonna put in our package, and we’re gonna, you know, whatever. So it’s, it’s the same thing. But it’s, it’s in your four walls, and then full service events. Just because there’s money in something doesn’t mean you should do it.
One of my mentors said, the biggest thing you can learn in business is what to say no to. So for instance, I’ve always said if I was gonna get back in the restaurant business, I would probably go, I saw a guy had this business model. He was in Phoenix, Arizona, and an office Industrial Park by the airport, tons of people. He did a Monday through Friday barbecue restaurant. And then he blew out the drop off business through the back door, right? So he’s getting all those people blue and white collar people coming to eat with him. And he’s not working nights, he’s not working weekends, and if he does decide he’s gonna do a big event on the weekends. It’s worth his while, right? Like, I make $10,000 You know, company picnic, but it’s gonna put five grand in my pocket, and that’s gonna find my family’s vacation. Right? So you know, you’re not he’s not doing every night events, and he’s with his family, he’s got a quality of life, you might need a points like, great, I know I could do if we really went after we could do half a million in full service catering, but I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t want to deal with the logistics, the truck, the employees, I just want to do what’s in my four walls, and crank that out. So just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should do it. Right.
Another thing is, is during COVID, a lot of our clients were thinking creatively, like, how can we do family meal deal. So it’s like HelloFresh, that delivers the raw food and you make it we do that we actually enjoy that we enjoy the experience, we enjoy the flavor profiles, it’s been done really well, they got some really great chefs that have put the meals together. So you could do something on a local basis. Like if you if you’re a high end restaurant, you can say, hey, we’re gonna assemble all the ingredients. And we’re gonna charge a premium because you know, I’m a highly rated chef, I’m not just a box of TV, right? Corner, local celebrity, or I can predict your dinners for you. In aluminum re heatable. And, you know, hey, three nights a week, you and your wife don’t have to worry about food, you know, you pick every week, we have a rotating menu, you know, tonight, you’re gonna have lasagna and salad and breadsticks and, you know, maybe brownies, and you’re gonna pay X number of dollars, and I’m prepping it up for a bunch of people and maybe I only delivered to your part of town on Mondays my part of town on Tuesdays. And, you know, it’s sort of like a deconstructed catering, you know, you’re selling food in bulk. It’s all cold refrigerated, you know, you can make it the day before morning, or whatever and sell it. So there’s, you got to think creatively, like we’re really in the food distribution business. And what does that look like? Sysco figured this out, right? US Foods figured this out. It’s like, they used to be in the hey, we’re selling produce business, and then they figured out you know what, people will pay a premium to have the onions chopped and put it in an cryovack bag, people would pay a premium to have lime juice and gallon jugs as opposed to buying raw limes and having some guy at a juicer
making lime juice, right. So it’s a value as like, I don’t have time to cook. The only time I cook is if I have a day that I’m cooking for friends coming over, but I don’t cook for myself. So you know, it really can take on whatever life you want, but it really revolves around what are you known for? That’s where you start with because if you’re gonna have a pool party, where do you want Mexican food from? You know, probably your favorite Mexican restaurant. I love it in there. And they said to go, let’s get it from there. You know, so do what you’re known for first, you can
And after that, once you have a reputation as a good caterer. And then obviously we know it’s, it’s free advertising right every time you go out there and feed somebody. So if you’re going to spend, if you have very limited resources, you’re you know, unless you’re doing really grassroots marketing, database marketing, that kind of stuff, you’re not going to have the budget to have an impact in your market. So you might as well just put all that money in a building your catering sales, they their incremental profits, and you’re getting paid to advertise your brand. Unless you do a shitty job, then you’re just going out of business quicker, because people are like, I don’t think I ever want to eat there.
And there’s breakage involved, too. So it’s incremental profits, but it’s like if people commit to say, 30 meals, or whatever, whether that’s in house at a private party, you’re actually delivering it catered, they’re paying for 30, even if you actually deliver less, or your kitchen prepares less based on who shows up. So that’s a good one, too. What about concepts? Is there certain? It seems like it’s it’s very much universal, almost like every cuisine has an appeal to a certain target market. But not every cuisine travels? Well, if you’re delivering it somewhere. So do restaurants have to sort of really simplify and pare down a menu that that’s been proven to travel well, and it holds up well, and, and it also has that appeal, but it’s also profitable. Do we start with the menu, before we decide to put a program in place?
You got to start with the main I want to go back a second. Another benefit you have is if you’re a caterer. And they they want to call you, Roger and say, hey, I want you to do a fajita buffet, right? Yeah, you have to buy all the ingredients for those people. Well, if I own a Mexican restaurant, I can give you as exactly what you need. Because you know what, whether I’m making 20 pounds of guacamole or 25, I’m making guacamole all day long. There’s no waste, right? There’s no hey, I’ve got to buy a whole case of avocados when I only need a half. I gotta build it into my price. So you’ve got that going for you. There are some foods that travel well earn enjoyed Well, right? If you’re vegetarian in Nashville, Tennessee, you’re probably not gonna like crush it. But you still have your customer base that you can sell to. It attracts vegetarians, vegetarians are gonna have events, but it’s not going to be like a barbecue. It’s not gonna be like Italian, it’s not gonna be like deli, there’s the tried and trues.
But there are guys, you know, crushing it with Mediterranean? I think it does have to travel well, and you’ve got to decide, am I in the hot business, a coal business something? Am I in the box lunch business? Because some things are better as box lunches, you’re not doing platters?
Yeah, you definitely have to look at that. And I’m a big believer in putting together three tiers of pricing. Sort of good, better best. You know, so it’s like, or low, mid high, some people are looking for something a little more budget conscious. So you have fewer options, maybe more basic things, and you have something in the middle and something high end that has everything in it. And then you could charge extra for more premium meats or sides or add ons. So there’s a way to bump up the check average, you know, on that and, you know, you definitely want to give people options when it when it comes to that.
Alright, so you’ve got a turnkey catering solution based around your proprietary software that really started with your personal experience. And this has all been refined and proven over and over again in multiple restaurants situations. So let’s just say I’m a restaurant, I’m intrigued by what I’m hearing now, can you walk us through the process of you know, you know, Joe’s restaurant USA wants to start a catering operation. I’m intrigued with this software you have walk us through the steps and the processes and the onboarding and that whole thing.
So we have really pivoted our company that we’re this is gonna sound crazy. We’re not as much in the helping restaurants get into the catering business. We’re more in helping successful restaurants and caterers be more successful. So I have free I have free resources like, you can go here, let me just pull it up behind me.
You can go get a copy of cater or die on Amazon. You can download it for free on my website. Literally I have that as a blueprint on how to go start a catering company. There’s a lot there’s a lot of really good consultants that will help you with that.
What I have found is…I’m trying to be respectful. Very few people get shit done, right. There’s a reason there’s a 1% Because a 1% Get up and figure out how to kick at CES. And most people make excuses. So like, you know people say are you worried about your competitors seeing your product? No. Sign up for My product because I’ll innovate quicker than you. Are you worried about teaching your competitor in Nashville? How to Sell More catering? No, because he’s not gonna get up off his ass and do anything, statistically, right. And so when you do that, I’m in the business, we all want to be in the business of long term clients. So if you’ve got a catering client, you don’t want a one and done you want somebody, Hey, that farmer reps don’t call you once a week in order. What’s the same thing, what we figured out is we we put in all this front end effort to walk people through, we create their menus, their four walls, marketing, their websites, taught them how to lead generate, a year later, they would just cancel the program because like, you know, my person quit or couldn’t get this done, the dog ate my homework. It’s like, Hey, I got I got a list of excuses, one through 20 on board, just pick a number because they’re all the same. To me. It’s white noise, like, I don’t care. So that’s that business model doesn’t work for me, because I get frustrated with people who don’t do things. So we pivoted to say, Hey, if you really want the best software to run your business, so you’re not wasting time. So you’re increasing. I think, on average, we did an analysis over three years that people that use the marketing and some of the systems built on our software, they increase their sales year over year by an average of 14%. Because there’s things like, give you an example. And I did this manually. When I had my restaurant, I would go and do your company picnic, and it was a $10,000 event. What do you think I want that event back next year? And do you think most people pick up the phone and call Roger and say, Hey, Roger, we did event last year? Let’s do it again? No, I would take a copy of the catering ticket, I put it in an accordion file folder, January through December when I needed to contact you. And I know, hey, month of June, I need to call Roger, we booked the event and had a piece of paper. Well, now we built it in our software. So any event you book, you get a reminder that pops up says do I want to be reminded to rebook this event, whether it’s next week, next month, next quarter. And so that little feature alone is going to bring you more business, right? It’s the way that we help you set up modifiers and upsells is going to help you sell more. So you know, we sort of do it like you want to be at a certain level before you come to us for for technology, but we make lots of free resources. We’ll teach you how to sell catering drinks and make more money than most people are making. I’ve got a book on that. And it’s free. I mean, because what we figure is if we educate the marketplace, the 1% is going to rise to the top and they’re going to work with me because I’m the guy who gave them the information. And then they’re ready for me, right?
There’s another opportunity because so many states have allowed people to take cocktails out of the restaurants. And the same applies to catering if the day part is correct. So if it’s an after hours, party after work, or whatever, you can sell cocktails and food. So that’s a great thing. What I heard from you is okay, it takes an operation to be up and running with a certain catering operation. But now it’s a fully automated tracking system, tracking contacts, contacts, you know, tracking prospects, emails, phone calls, follow ups, there’s an ordering function, of course, I want to talk about all that worrying.
The online order, if you think about it, everything you could think about to run a catering businesses and our software online ordering order taking proposal creations, electronic contracts, BeOS, kitchen production planning, routing delivery drivers, we have an app that makes your drivers look like they’re Uber drivers where the catering client could track them turn by turn on the screen, as opposed to calling you up at five to 12. Hey, Roger, where’s my order? And then like, You got to stop what you’re doing. You gotta call the driver. Oh, I just pulled in the parking garage. Hey, Betty. He just pulled on the parking garage. Well, now it’s on an app, right? Even the ability, I guess, maybe square figure this out, you know, you go to a coffee shop and you buy a $3 coffee, right? $4 coffee, and they turn the touchpad around? Is it here? Could you complete the sale? And you’re left looking at this kid? And it says do you want to leave 1520 25% or other and sign it? Well, you look sort of like a schmuck if you don’t lead to at least a buck ride or something. So think about the tips that are generated. Well, the same thing, we have a client that more than pays for our software off the tipping feature on the drivers app. So if they drop off a $300 catered event, you know, you might get 20 3040 $50 just because that person spending the company’s money and just hits the button, you’re we’re all conditioned. Well, I’m gonna give you that client. I was given them an extra $2,000 a month and tips. That’s free payroll, for the cost of my software. They got an almost 10x return just on that one feature, not the hours a day they spent on kitchen production planning, not you know the database email marketing to get people to come back not all other things. One little afterthought in our software pays for the whole thing. Because if your drivers are making more money, if my drivers are making more money driving for me than driving for you, who do you think they want to drive for, they want to drive for me, assuming we’re both decent people. Now, if I’m an asshole, you’re probably not, they might go to work for you for less. But you get the point that, you know, if and that’s free money that’s not coming out of your pocket.
I really liked the reminder feature. And what you’re talking about here is you don’t want to do the one and done. So you want repeat business, once you build that core business, then you can have a whole marketing system that gets that business back again, and again, on top of building new clients that then become repeat clients and all that kind of stuff. Let’s talk about the database building and the marketing and how sophisticated can the marketing get? But before you answer, I also saw the bo function with this whole build your own thing that literally allows you to customize photography of the food of your spaces of whatever you want to do is used as a marketing tool to attract new clients. And maybe you can take photographs of the last function you did for a client and then reminder says, Hey, I got to contact Joe this week, because last year, they did a $10,000 event, I want to do it again. And then you got photographs of their event, or of the food that went out to that event. And you market to them saying, hey, what a great time it was. Let’s do it again. All that exists, right? Yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s so many like, I’m the drivers app, you can take pictures, there’s a lot of I mean, it’s breaking out of a firehose. So you know, the first thing you have to do is you have to, when you take customer information, you need to take it the right way, like proper tents, case, full address, fully male, all that kind of stuff, because then you have data, sales data, right? Another thing we have that is like an afterthought is we have a loyalty system that we tie in until it’s called Tango cards.
You know, Roger, if you go and eat at a restaurant and you earn a free lunch, once a month, you’re like, Okay, that’s cool. You know, $15 ever and whatever. What happens if you’re that admin, do you want to $1,000 and gift cards to my restaurant? Probably not. So you can reward them with up to 80, electronic gift cards through this third party. So now you can really buy someone’s big book of business, because now Suzy, who decides where the food’s coming from? Right? Right, right, he’s going to Rogers, because Roger is going to send her $1,000 worth of Amazon gift cards. And guess what her Christmas budget is free. And it’s worth given to 3% of bags, yep, electronics, share cards, yes, gift certificates, you could give more, and it costs you less than you get back. But we’re talking about a different type of customer a different type of motivation, right? So you’ve got that.
That’s what that was a really excellent point. I mean, what a way to build loyalty and repeat business and getting a small you know, giving a percentage back to ensure that that person contacts you again to do it again. Got it here. Here’s another one. We’re about to go live with a select. We have email marketing, you know, mass email marketing, you can do it to groups, what have you that you could send out an email marketing, hey, who hasn’t ordered in like, last 90 days in our database, and we’re gonna send them a strong offer, hey, we hadn’t seen you. In a while thinking about you.
Order from us, I’m gonna give you a $25 gift card. Now, I don’t like to discount my product. I like to give stuff for free. So either I agree that when you’re when you’re spending somebody else’s money, it’s what’s in it for me, right? Like your employees don’t care what lunch costs, because it’s on Rogers credit card. Now, if it’s their credit card, I care about the discount, because I’m doing a party in my backyard for my kid’s birthday party. And if I could save 10% on the cost great. But if I’m using Rogers credit card, and he’s not telling me, you know, a super tight budget, I get a $25 gift card. Why not? We haven’t used them in a while it’s sewn back in the mix.
So there’s just all this stuff. The videos are more you’re taking pictures for operations. So you could show what this is what the buffet needs to be set up like this is what the drink station desserts. This is a schematic of the room layout. But keep in mind training we fill internally in order to deliver like a blueprint of the event. It’s literally a big event. It’s like a blueprint. But But think about this with a checklist. Right? Marketing is anything that touches the customer. What happens I’m going to tell you a story. When I opened my restaurant, I literally was waiting tables and I got somebody to write a million dollar check and back me I’d never open Run managed a restaurant, and I’m not smart but I’m really good at stealing ideas and looking at other
People remember I told you I like to look for problems. So I said, okay, if I’m gonna come up to Nashville, I don’t know the landscape, I’m gonna go eat at every barbecue restaurant. Right? I want to deconstruct, when they sell their sandwich for $4, how much meat are they get giving. They’re given two ounces. And I give three and a half ounces, hey, we give you 75% more me than the competitor, that’s what our sandwiches for, or we cook our barbecue for 22 hours, it doesn’t get as much of this for tender, I would call up and play catering prospect. And what I found out was a couple of things. One, nobody would pick up the phone to get a voicemail at the time was an answering machine. Three, I get somebody in the kitchen, who said no one’s here, call back for a call during business hours. They’d say, Oh, you needed you need to talk to the manager. He’s on the line, call back. So what happens when you’re calling, you know what I call Rogers Deli? Nobody can help me, I’m going on to the next person on my list. So we made sure that we always answered the phone live, even if it was a host saying, Hey, let me take your name. And number Mike will call you right back. So we picked up a lot of business, because we showed up, right?
So there’s all these things that are marketing, right? What are your guys look like when they walk in with the foods is they look like they’ve been smoking pot all night long, and disheveled or they look sharp, you know, fish rattling when they set everything up, or they walk in through the customer half set everything up. Here’s your sandwich trays, here’s your desserts, here’s this, here’s the serving utensils, all you have to do is when your group comes to pull off the lids, and let them go through right. So everything that touches the customer is marketing, because it’s a point of influence to say, Do I want to do business with this person again? And we always think marketing is oh, look at this cool Facebook ad. Oh, isn’t cool. Or look at this YouTube video that I put together. Isn’t this beautiful? No. I mean, really, it’s it’s everything that influences that customer and prospect. How the phone’s answer. What are your proposals look like? We’ve built proposals that look like they were done by Madison Avenue ad agency, not something he you cranked out on an Excel spreadsheet.
That’s a beautiful point. It’s custom branded to the restaurant logos, colors, all that stuff. Like it looks like a professional. Like you said, it looks like it’s been done a professional brochure, and it gives you an opportunity to sell. So for instance, one of the things we recommend is an FAQ sheet. So they’re they’re getting their questions answered, oh, they thought of everything. Testimonials, right? If you’re in Nashville, Tennessee, and you’ve got a testimonial from Vanderbilt University, Bridgestone, Firestone, the Nashville Predators, the Tennessee Titans, some high, and clients are gonna think Vanderbilt, they can do business with anyone. So if they’re doing business with Michael, they’ve got to be good.
So I can trust, maybe you do a guarantee, we’re a big believer on the on time, or it’s free guarantee or the all you can eat, you know, if we run out of food, you don’t pay guarantee. So, you know, we would have never heard of Domino’s if they didn’t have the 30 minute or free delivery guarantee, you know, and you can always find something to guarantee and people go well, I can’t guarantee it’s gonna be delivered on time well shoot to be there 15 minutes early, not exactly on time. And number two is, do you think you’re gonna be in business if you’re consistently late with food now early. So it’s sort of like, it’s the price of admission, it’s the ticket to delivering catering, you better be on time are you gonna be so you might as well guarantee what you’re going to do anyway, right?
So the software enables someone to become like a professional event organizer, because all the tools are there, and it’s all in front of you. And logically from start to finish, you are planning your event, you are executing your event. And then you’re having some sort of a debrief at the end with your team. The proposal thing is there. It’s a template with the graphics.
It’s like a Yeah, hot coffee facts, deposits. You know, everything. You know, when, when when if you call me up, Roger and go, Hey, we did an event three months ago, I need a copy my take it and I can pull it up in 60 seconds and email it to you. You want to do business with me. And wow, let me go out to the many storage and see if I can find your credit. Right, right. Right, or, Hey, can we get the same thing we did last year? Hey, let me send you a copy of it. And let’s discuss what changes you want. In 30 seconds. Bang, here it is. Right? The more professional you look again, at sales and marketing, the admin doesn’t get a raise for booking lunch, right? It’s a it’s a necessary evil a job so you need to make them look good. Get it done quickly. So people pay a premium for professionalism. Right.
This is fantastic. So what about costing tools to put a party together is there because a menu cost is very important you know, if you’ve got an existing menu hopefully you’re already dialed in with it cost me so much to put this played out per person, but I’m gonna tell you that
I’m gonna be contrarian food cost doesn’t matter. So let me give you the Astrid. Okay, based on what you charge based on what the market will bear and what they’ll pay, right? And not what your food cost is, your customer doesn’t care what your food cost is. They’re going to pay what they feel they should pay, right. So let’s just take the hamburger analogy, right? If you’re serving a McDonald’s quality hamburger, you can’t get a Ruth’s Chris hamburger price. Would you agree with that? Absolutely true. Doesn’t matter how much you want to charge, the fact that you’ve got to fly somebody on a private jet to make those hamburgers in your McDonald’s, they’re not gonna pay for that, you know, Ruth’s Chris is gonna get the premium because they’re using the best meat and they have the brand and whatever, right. And now back, let’s say is in the middle, so you sort of have to know where you stand in the in the marketplace, you know, and you got to be brutally honest with yourself and my low, low perceived value brand, medium high on the price point, and what what are they charging in the marketplace for that? And what value am I bringing, there is some price elasticity. And then you might have to read reverse engineering go, hey, the price is 999 a person, maybe I need to change my portion size. Or maybe I give them more things that are less expensive on the buffet. So people are full, but um, ya know, another thing, just a little tip is you always put the proteins at the end of the buffet, even if you’re doing a drop off, because people start filling up their plates, right. And they have, the less room they have, if I if I put lobster tails, the beginning of the buffet hungrier but grabbing three, it flops at the end, I only have room for one on my plate. Same thing, we figured out what plate size right? A 10 and a quarter inch three compartment plate holds way more than a nine inch. But and people can come back if they want. But what do they do, they eat that plate of food and then they settle down and they’re probably not going to so now if you do if you use the math, you know, the area of a circle is pi r squared, right? That that one and a quarter inches is really, you know, I don’t know 15% less food, I can’t do that quick of math, but you get my point getting is, is you know, the size of the plates the size of the cops, you know, am I gonna give people 20 ounce cups on a catering now I’m probably gonna give them a 12 ounce cup, make them come back again. But that’s gonna require me to send out less, which goes in my food costing and the value proposition, you know, so it’s yes, you have to cost it out, you need to know what your costs are. But it’s not a formula, like take it and multiply it by three or four, whatever. I mean, there are Rough Guides, but you know, I might run a 50% food cost on drop off catering, because it’s so easy for me to put together its turn and burn, I don’t really have to do any extra work. You know, barbecue is just pulling me put in pan sauce ended up putting a lid on it another hotel, hotel pan full of beans that are putting an aluminum pan and coleslaw on aluminum pan. It’s a bit you know, it’s simple. So I might, because I’m going to do a $400 drop off of that. It’s okay, I’m making $200 gross profit on it. I don’t need to make $300 on it because of just the nature of it and what the market will bear and you know, what have you?
Can you give us a little more detail on the online ordering and how that works. Because traditionally, online ordering obviously is integrated with your POS system. But does this now integrate with your software specifically? So the orders come into your software or the?
Yeah, it’s our proprietary online ordering interface. We just re skinned it. It’s 2.0 Beautiful dynamic, you can put lead capture forms on the page pictures of all your menu categories. So it definitely makes people want to buy catering. You could you can do what I call option upsells. Within an item, Hey, would you like to add this? And so they have to answer the question before they can put the order in, right? Does it lead them to order more because you give them all these options and upstands If you do if you do if you do it right, yeah, so let’s just take let’s take, let’s take a side order, right. Yep. Pick your sides. You get two sides. Beans, coleslaw, potato sizes included. You want truffle mac and cheese. It adds $1 A person. Oh, I love mac and cheese. Sounds good. Person. Would you like to add brownies? Yep. And that’s $2 a person to the package. Would you like to drink a drink pack $2 a person just absolutely $4 ahead. By putting that option and not making you go out to the drinks category. The desserts category you have to answer? No thank you or Yes, please. And then the price right? So you’re forced to answer before you can put that item in your cart. Well, I don’t
Build that for you the functionality is there, and you have to build it. But yes, you should have with every item that you have, even what you’re selling online, through your restaurant to go, every item should have some kind of upsell associated with it. saluja.
Thank you very much for stating that because those are lost opportunities unless it’s easy for the customer to make the order or make the suggestion.
And most people everyone thinks everyone’s price conscience. Most people aren’t. There’s a price elasticity. Like if you said, Oh, would you like to add crab to your steak? Oh, I didn’t think about it. Sure, why not? What’s the cause? I don’t know. My hands automatically just said 20 to 25%. On a credit card receipt I have literally 30 seconds after a sign. I don’t know. I don’t want gas costs. And I’m not trying to be insensitive to people who are on a budget. I understand. Some people are, but most people who come in, they don’t care about price as much as you care about price like, Hey, I’m taking my wife out. It’s our anniversary, I don’t give a crap. If I spent another 20 $30 This is my night to come out right? Or hey, I’m going to a deli. I don’t care if I spend another $2 On a more premium side, or getting you know a doctor Dr. Brown soda versus a fountain soda. I’m here to enjoy myself. If I was pinching pennies, I go to the Costco food court, get a hotdog get a drink for $1.50 or brown bag it. So I think in our brains, we think price is as big a deal as it is. And it’s not really no, I would agree with you.
We’re talking about events, we’re talking about special occasions, and people are less price sensitive when they’re putting on something special for people that they want to reward recognize or just show a good time to so or they don’t want to be embarrassed. Okay, there’s another one. You know, just think about it that as well, you know, hey, I got all these people. I can’t look like a fool. Right? Yeah, I gotta put on a show. Right?
So, you know, there’s, there’s lots of different angles about it. You briefly talked about the whole kitchen production tool. So that’s sort of a tracking tool where we can every step of putting this order together from start to finish is in there. And as the jobs get completed, it’s like checked off, and it turns green. And it’s like, you can look at things from a from a 20,000 foot view and know okay, this is all right on target. It’s done. But we still have abc and to do before it’s complete, right?
Yes. Well, it starts before that, right? You’re talking about assembling the order. It starts with your, your a food factory, right? So how many pounds of potato salad do I need to make for all my catering orders on Friday. So it takes up all the orders for the day and says he needs 72 and a half pounds of potato salad? Well, I run to 25 in the restaurants. And now we need to make sure we’re parked up to 100 pounds, right. And then the crew that’s assembling, they know that, hey, we’ve got this, these bins of you know, 75 pounds of potatoes out, we can start pulling from to put our orders together. So you got to start at the 30,000 high school level and then go down to actually maybe somebody on a four J six of coleslaw. And I got 252 of them. But somebody’s got to make enough coleslaw to fill those right? Or somebody’s got to know how much packaging we need to have on in the restaurant to put together all these orders, how many aluminum pans, how many, you know, cups, spoons, forks, whatever. So it’s a high level and then deconstructed to the lower level as well. All right, so an owner a GM is like the air traffic controller using your soft door, which in and of itself is another air traffic control for the entire function.
It’s all sort of built into the same interface and who needs it?
Yeah. But keep in mind, the beauty of it is it’s it’s systematized, right. And I always tell people I said, Look, I know nothing about how to cook your food. I do know how to use system. So if I came into anybody’s restaurant, you know, you build the formulas, they spit them out. Nobody has to do anything. Save two hours a day. If I came into your restaurant, Roger, I don’t know anything about Italian food. How do you make your lasagna? I don’t know. But I know that hey, we need for Panza lasagna tomorrow. And this is your main guy. This is your chef and I’m gonna say Hey Chef, this is a production for tomorrow and then when it comes down to putting the order hey, I need that half painted lasagna. Hey, I need you know the two large bowls a Caesar salad hey, I need the two pints of Caesar dressing hey, I need you know the bag that has the plates in the cups in the whatever. I’m just I’m an I’m the guy running the orchestra right I don’t know how to play the damn instruments. I just know that I gotta tell the woodwind guy to do this and then the the strings gotta do this. isn’t the guy on the horns to do this? That’s all I’m doing is I’m a conductor and I’ve got all the moving parts and pieces. I don’t have to know how to cook one thing in your restaurant, I don’t even have to know where you keep it. I just need to say, Roger, could you go back and walk in cooler? And give me the coleslaw for the Jones order? Hey, Bob, could you go to the pit station and get me the ribs? You know, for the Smith order. I’m just, I’m the conductor. And I’ve got the system in place. Remember, I believe in running businesses on processes, not personalities, because personalities come and go and they hold you hostage is processes don’t?
Awesome. We’ve covered a lot of ground today. Do we miss anything, Michael?
I mean, you know, I think this is pretty damn thorough, I better get a link to this because I’m gonna let all my clients and and prospects see this because I mean, we literally went through how to build and run and operate a successful catering business.
Now you’ve got a free demo on your website, as well as a free trial offer, I want to talk about that.
Yeah, just go to our website, we have a lot of things, you can do a 30 day trial, you can sign up for a demo the software, a lot of free resources. I mean, literally, you could go through my blog articles that go back lots of lots of really good ways to build your business. You know, just about everything our software does is outline there. So caterzen.com. And, again, read the free resources like I’ve got a book called query multipliers, the 17, no cost, no cost laws of building catering sales. So there’s 17 things that you can do in your existing catering business to increase sales and cost you nothing 17 And I outline him for him. Now I’m not gonna lie to you. They’re all built in our software, you can do a manually labor or you could do them through us. But there’s still things you should be doing right. Reaching out to inactive clients. I don’t care if you use my system, or you come up with your own system. You’re an idiot to build this relationship. I went to Rogers office, I kind of lose sample my barbecue. He’s a client, as the most expensive sale is the first one. Why am I letting him fall through the cracks and go someplace else?
Absolutely. It’s all common sense. So these are 17 things everybody should be implementing in their business all 17 not 16 or 17 residual business residual income and keep it printing money and getting more clients.
That’s that’s a beautiful thing.
Well, thank you so much for joining us, Michael. It’s been great having you as a guest. That was the restaurant rockstars podcast. We’ll see everyone in the next episode stay well, well, there you have it. Catering is an ideal additional profit center for your operation. So thank you so much, Michael for being a great guest for sharing caterzen And your turnkey catering solution we learned so much. Can’t wait to see you all in the next episode. Stay tuned and don’t miss it.
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Thanks for listening to the restaurant rockstars podcast for lots of great resources, head over to restaurant rockstars.com See you next time.
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