Food at Work is Back: How to Win Corporate Catering Business


SEP 07, 2023


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Food at Work is back and stronger than before the pandemic, with the demand for workplace catering increasing and seeing close to 80% of companies ordering catering on a regular or frequent cadence. With many folks used to working from home, companies need help to incentivize employees to return to the office, and reports show that catering is a strong motivation factor for about 65% of employees to head into the office. 

  • (65%) are willing to plan their in-person office visits based on whether or not complimentary catered lunch is being offered that day.

  • Over 80% of company budgets for food orders have either remained the same (55%) or increased (28%) since the pandemic.

  • Almost 80% of companies frequently order business catering—at least once a month. And of those companies, 32% order weekly.

Because of this, restaurants are presented with a massive business opportunity to gain revenue through corporate catering. There are several different business segments enterprise restaurants can target for B2B catering, a few of which are: 

  • Corporate offices 

  • Manufacturing plants

  • Small local businesses

  • Schools & Universities 

  • Co-working spaces (WeWork)

Additionally, some segments may require different means of accessing catered food. Enterprise restaurants providing catering services must be prepared to accommodate pickup, delivery, and setup and retrieval. Some corporate clients may require a white-glove level of delivery, with packaging and presentation being of top importance. Outside of delivery, each client has differing considerations regarding dietary accommodations, forms of payment, and cadence of ordering. And, in a post-pandemic world, individual packaging is key to making catering customers feel secure and safe when retrieving their food from a common countertop. 

With these complexities, restaurants need the right tools to win and retain Food at Work customers successfully. With the right technology behind catering, not only can you win business, but restaurants will see their catering operations scale into a lucrative revenue stream. In this article, we’ll address the baseline tools and technology caterers need to effectively scale their business and meet the demands of Food at Work. 

Digital Enablement Features to Scale Revenue and Win Corporate Catering Business 

Setting yourself up for success with the right technology is the key to any modern catering business. With the right vendor partner backing your catering business, you can feel confident you are well-positioned to build long-lasting relationships with your corporate customers. Technology in catering should drive efficiency and flexibility, eliminate pain points and waste, drive confidence in accurate and on-time order delivery, and provide a clear picture of the state of your catering revenue at any point in time. Below are a few of the key features to drive success.  

Flexible Payment Options and House Accounts

Every business has unique catering needs and payment preferences. For instance, a corporate office might require daily lunch delivery for their staff, while a coworking space may need a one-time event catering. A business that requires daily or weekly catering may prefer to settle up on their bill at the end of each month rather than paying at the time of each transaction. 

House Accounts allow restaurants to manage accounts, run reports, bill invoices, and handle funds for each customer based on their billing requirements. With the option of extending credit to corporate accounts, businesses that order daily or weekly catering have the ability to pay in total after a set period of time. 

In addition to House Accounts, your catering software should also accept payments via credit card. This flexibility not only makes it easier for the restaurant to manage varying customer demands but also makes the customers feel valued and attracted to order more often, leading to longer-lasting relationships.

To solve these demands, Lunchbox has built a Catering solution with a house account feature to satisfy all needs. A few components of this feature crucial to Catering Managers include the following abilities. 

Smart Management With Prep Sheets

Efficient planning and preparation are crucial for any successful catering operation. Most Food at Work clients require individual packaging for catering items, as needed for safety and comfortability, and with that much packaging, prepping to order packaging and pack orders can get complicated. In a corporate setting where time is of the essence, mishaps like late delivery or wrong orders can harm the restaurant's reputation. Prep Sheets offers a streamlined workflow for kitchens, providing an overview of what needs to be prepared and when, including how much cutlery to include, individual packaging needs, and side items. This minimizes the chances of error and product waste, ensures timely delivery, and enhances overall customer satisfaction.

Prep Sheets should be a simple process; they should sync directly with your online catering system and display an accurate summary of information. With digital prep sheets, there is little to no room for human error, and you can feel confident that the order going out the door is properly packed and that you’ve saved your restaurant from wasting extra utensils or unnecessary packaging. 

Lunchbox has developed a digital prep sheet feature that syncs with your online catering system, allowing you to choose from the Admin Dashboard which items and how much detail you’d like included on your prep sheets. Operators can easily print an accurate and custom prep sheet for error-proof packing. Lunchbox customers save time and resources and feel confident in their presentation to corporate accounts, knowing that their orders are packed correctly and out the door on time. With properly prepped and packed catering orders, corporate customers, universities, and local businesses will be more inclined to order from you again. 

Catering Delivery: Delivery Dispatch and White Glove Integrations 

Ensuring the food deliveries reach clients fresh, hot, and timely is paramount. Late, sloppy, or inaccurate deliveries can make or break repeat business. Your client has just spent potentially hundreds of dollars on your food, and you and your staff have gone through the pains of meticulously preparing and packing that order—the last thing you want is the food arriving cold or dropped off not meeting your customer's standards. 

Partnering with the right Delivery Dispatch provider and white-glove delivery service is essential to satisfying your catering clients' needs and keeping them coming back for more. There are countless delivery providers, all with unique commission structures, and it can be enormously complicated to route orders to the correct provider. The right Dispatch partner can help you own your data, lower commission rates, reduce operational burdens, and offer the best possible experience for your guests. With Lunchbox Delivery Dispatch, delivery chaos is transformed into a seamless operation, where the optimal delivery provider is automatically selected and dispatched to your store, ensuring the fastest possible delivery and a great customer experience. 

In addition to dispatching, Lunchbox supports the ability to set delivery zones by syncing directly with the POS or giving restaurants the option to delineate custom delivery zones in the map feature and assign boundaries by service type (an example would be first-party vs. third-party catering orders). Restaurants can keep one service fee or assign service fees based on distance. This flexibility benefits restaurants by allowing them to stay flexible and also protect the integrity of their food by not offering delivery outside of their delivery zones. 

For catering customers that require a more white-glove level of service or specific requirements when it comes to delivery, like a fully set buffet table or catering with servers present, you will require a partner to do so. Of course, you can try to staff for this in-house, but with current labor shortages and the extra complications and logistics this entails, it’s often not worth it. 

Lunchbox has partnered with DeliverThat, an on-demand catering service offering white-glove delivery for clients who demand an elevated presentation. DeliverThat ensures that orders are delivered on time and according to your client’s preferences. They offer a network of over 15,000 delivery drivers across 50 states, making them the ideal partner for large enterprise organizations. This combination of promptness and professionalism makes DeliverThat’s catering services a reliable choice for any business. As an added benefit, they integrate directly with Lunchbox Catering, overcoming further operational burdens due to added manual tasks or audit challenges. 

Driving Repeat Business Through Reporting And A CRM

Understanding your clients is key to retaining them. When it comes to scaling a catering business, having a real-time snapshot of your customers, sales, and data is essential. Proper reporting and marketing tools will allow you to understand your data in real-time and action on that data, ultimately leading to expanded business and repeat orders. A CRM is key to building relationships with loyal catering customers and winning new ones. 

The Lunchbox CRM feature offers data-driven insights into the purchasing habits and preferences of each client. This enables restaurants to tailor their offerings to match client preferences better, offer personalized promotions, and increase repeat business. With a powerful CRM behind the scenes, restaurants have the ability to segment customers based on loyalty, frequency of orders, size of orders, and company names. Segmentation ultimately leads to messaging that feels more personalized and has higher conversion rates. With the Lunchbox CRM, accounts can be messaged via email or SMS, providing multiple communication channels. For restaurant customers using the Lunchbox app and web ordering products, customer attributes are pooled across all ordering channels into one data center. This allows restaurants to target app and web guests with upsell opportunities around catering orders. In addition, with the webhook feature, restaurants can pull real-time data like weather, sporting events, and more to send perfectly-timed messages encouraging group orders. 

Reporting in real-time on catering operations is paramount to effectively scaling your business. Understanding at any point in time how many catering orders you have in the queue, where those orders are placed, and viewing historical data around orders helps restaurants forecast and benchmark their growth. For a restaurant with a dedicated catering sales team, this information is important for sales leadership to access and properly hold teams accountable, motivate employees to expand their account base, and uncover opportunities both locally and nationally for scale. With other features like house accounts and delivery integrations, enterprise restaurants have a well-oiled machine ready to meet catering demands at scale. 

Concluding How to Win Repeat Corporate Catering Business

In conclusion, the corporate catering landscape has shifted significantly in recent years. As more companies incentivize their employees to return to the office with food at work, restaurants have a golden opportunity to tap into this lucrative market. However, to successfully navigate the complexities of this industry, businesses need to equip themselves with the right tools. With features like House Accounts for flexible payments, Prep Sheets for efficient planning, Delivery Dispatch for operational efficiency, DeliverThat for white-glove delivery service, and an intuitive CRM system, Lunchbox is perfectly positioned to meet these evolving demands. By leveraging these technologies, restaurants can build lasting relationships with corporate clients, streamline their operations, and turn their catering services into a major revenue stream. As we step into the future of Food at Work, the time to optimize and scale your catering business is now.

To learn more about Lunchbox Catering, visit our website at lunchbox.io/catering, or book a demo today. 


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