Grow Your Catering Business in the COVID Normal Era
February 17th, 2021
How has COVID-19 affected the catering industry?
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the catering industry on its head. Industry staples like business conferences, large weddings, and other big gatherings have significantly decreased with no clear indication for when these events will return in a regular fashion. With the shift towards virtual meetings and creative alternatives to in-person events, companies may continue to hold their events online, even after restrictions of the pandemic have eased.
This means that to stay viable, the catering industry has had to make critical adjustments to its business model and the services it can provide to customers. The industry has also needed to change its health and safety protocols to ensure that employees and customers stay healthy and safe. This blog looks at the state of the catering industry now, about one year into the pandemic, and what “the new normal” may look like going forward.
What will be different going forward?
Online ordering platforms are in
The use of online ordering for catering is more popular than ever. Gone are the days of in-person ordering. Customers don’t want to put themselves at unnecessary risk by going into an establishment and placing an order in person. Online ordering platforms such as FoodStorm allow for customers to order and pay online and then pick up their order at a safe, designated area or pay for delivery. No cash needed! It can also help stagger pick-up times so that customers don’t congregate in the pick-up area and violate social distancing rules. These online platforms make it easy for everyone, and they are likely to be the new standard practice going forward.
A shift towards individual orders
The use of online ordering platforms helps enable small or individual orders with a higher level of order customisation than was previously available from catering companies. This shift enables catering companies to operate more as a restaurant would. This new model helps catering companies diversify their offerings and reach a new market of customers. Furthermore, ordering platforms such as FoodStorm allow multiple individual orders to be combined into a “group order” that can be paid for by a company – providing a compelling value-add to your customers.
Development of pre-packaged to-go brands
When most people think of catering, they think of buffets with large, open trays of food served with shared utensils. To avoid the risk of cross-contamination of the food from people sharing the same buffet, many catering businesses are shifting their services towards single serve, pre-packaged to-go food. Many companies were able to take advantage of the pre-packaged items they already served, while others have expanded their offerings to include more to-go items. Everyone loves convenience (and safety) so these to-go items will likely be popular for a long time to come.
Focus on serving essential workers
With many restaurants and cafes closed, essential workers like healthcare professionals need more support than ever to help them feed themselves and their families. Many catering companies have moved to fill this need and now supply individual take-home meals and heat-and-serve meal kits. While the pressure on essential workers will lessen when the pandemic comes to an end, catering companies may wish to keep some sort of program available for this invaluable group of people.
More delivery options
Since many people prefer to have their food delivered rather than needing to worry about going out and coming into contact with other people, some catering companies are shifting their operations to fill increased demand for delivery and essential food items. Taking advantage of the increased demand for grocery delivery, some companies have expanded their delivery offerings to include grocery items and alcohol after applying for a liquor licence.
Food Service Stations will be redesigned
With self-serve buffets deemed unsafe during the pandemic and new social distancing and sanitation requirements in place, serving stations and line configurations will need to be reimagined and redesigned to accommodate health standards. These new requirements might eventually lessen, but the design of prep stations, serving stations, and other catering infrastructure will likely be changed forever.
Charitable catering is on the rise
During the pandemic, many catering companies have stepped up to provide meals for people in need – while providing work for their staff in the process. . The catering industry is naturally poised to provide meal services to charitable causes like essential workers, retirement homes, and homeless shelters. Supporting your community never goes unnoticed, and is here to stay..
What will stay the same
While it seems like almost everything is different now, some things are expected to stay the same or return to normal in the future.
Catering is here to stay
While there have been many changes in the industry and some things remain uncertain, the catering industry is not going anywhere. Things might be done a little differently, but people will always need food and want to celebrate. The catering industry has done astoundingly well to adapt to the current situation and will come out the other side. When it is safe to do so, people will need catering for their events once again.
The catering industry is resilient and adaptable
While it may seem like everything is changing in the catering industry, many of the changes are positive. The industry has proved that it can be flexible and resilient, as many companies have successfully adapted their business model and services. Improvements like the increased use of online ordering systems and industry specific business management systems can help bring catering into the modern era and will only make the industry more robust and adaptable to any other challenges it may face in the future.
Stay ahead with FoodStorm Catering Software
FoodStorm Catering Software can help bring your operations online, positioning your catering business to capitalise on the current delivery and online ordering boom. From a branded e-commerce website to backend reporting, and quoting and proposals to production and delivery logs, FoodStorm can automate your processes and generate more sales.