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How to Streamline Operations for Your Catering Business

Tue, Jun. 06, 2017 Posted: 12:57 PM

Catering is one of the most lucrative and fastest growing areas in the foodservice industry. Anyone who has attempted to run a catering business knows that it can also be a very stressful venture full of ups and downs, unexpected roadblocks and days that seem to never end. For these reasons, caterers often find themselves crumbling under the pressure to continue operating if they haven’t been careful about making the right moves.

Fortunately, streamlining a catering business and improving operations doesn’t have to be as difficult as many people think it is. Here are just a few ways to make things easier on both yourself and your staff, all of which can lead to a more successful catering operation.

1. Embrace Technology

One of the biggest misconceptions about running a catering business is that it’s all about the food. Making great food surely matters, but it’s only a small part of the picture. Catering is just like any other business, with needs for accounts receivable, management of inventory, customer-relationship management and more. One of the best ways to handle all of these needs and more is to integrate cloud ERP software into the mix. A cloud-based ERP will allow you to manage numerous aspects of your business from anywhere with an Internet connection and a device that can access the cloud, making pen-and-paper management a thing of the past.

2. Cut Down on Your Inventory

There’s nothing worse than finishing up an event, only to find that you’ve accounted for much more food than you actually needed. Aside from sharing the “leftovers” with your employees, there’s little that can be done to soften the blow of food costs that cannot be recouped. Going forward, however, you can reduce the chances of this issue popping up again by simply cutting down on your inventory by even just a few percentage points, focusing on portioning and reducing waste. The results? Reduced food costs and more accurately portioned food for your customers.

3. Move from Monthly to Weekly Food Cost Calculation

When it comes to calculating food costs, there’s no perfect solution that will fit every caterer’s needs. One common mistake with food cost calculation, however, is crunching numbers for an entire month vs. just a week. There are simply too many variables that can affect your calculations to deal with such a wide swathe of time, and dealing with a period of just 5-7 days will lead to much more accurate predictions. Otherwise, you may end up encountering some not-so-pleasant surprises along the way.

Catering is a difficult enough business as it is. In most cases, however, the associated stress comes from a lack of preparation. This is especially true for those who are still tracking progress on outdated spreadsheets or on paper, neither of which will do modern catering companies any favors. Focus on streamlining things, and you can expect future events to run more smoothly.

David Fournier