How to Grow Corporate Catering Sales With Third & First-Party Channels


SEP 28, 2023


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In the enterprise multi-unit restaurant landscape, breaking into the corporate catering market represents an additional revenue stream and an opportunity to establish and grow new relationships with a wider audience. As technology evolves and the market grows, restaurants face the pivotal question: Should I leverage third-party marketplace catering platforms, invest in first-party direct ordering solutions, or both? When considering how to grow corporate and B2B catering sales, multi-unit restaurant operators should adopt a dynamic approach encompassing both strategies. This article will discuss the unique benefits of both strategies to help win and retain new corporate catering customers. 

Third-Party Marketplaces: Your Window to New Catering Guests

Think of third-party marketplace catering platforms like a bustling marketplace in the heart of a city. They're where people gather, discuss, and, most importantly, discover. In addition, marketplaces can save operators time and resources and drive new customer acquisition growth at scale, taking on the majority of the prospecting leg lift. Here's why they're invaluable:

  • Visibility & Reach: These platforms boast vast user bases actively seeking catering and other corporate meal solutions. Tapping into this pool guarantees that your restaurant gets in front of new eyes.

  • User Trust: Third-party platforms often come with built-in trust. Users rely on ratings and reviews to guide their decisions, which can be a boon for high-quality caterers.

  • Ease of Entry: No need to reinvent the wheel. These platforms have established systems for listing, promoting, and facilitating orders, enabling restaurants to dive in without significant upfront investments.

  • Outsourced Sales Solution: Marketplace platforms provide a built-in sales team, saving operators overhead costs, training, and time.

Multi-unit operators should take advantage of third-party platforms as a powerful top-of-funnel mechanism, casting a wide net to capture the attention of potential new customers. By leveraging their vast user bases and marketplace visibility, these platforms act as gateways, introducing a diverse audience to your offerings and laying the foundation for further engagement and conversion.

First-Party Direct Ordering: From One-Time Orders to Loyal Relationships

Growing Sales Through Actionable Data and User Experience

While third-party platforms introduce guests to your catering offerings, first-party direct ordering solutions are where you nurture this relationship and turn new customers into loyalists. Additionally, on average, first-party direct catering orders on Lunchbox have a $30 higher check average than third-party marketplace catering orders and offer additional financial benefits like commission-free orders. Let's break down why they're the heart of your catering strategy:

  • Data Insights: These platforms afford you comprehensive access to customer insights. Dive into clients' preferences, detect patterns, and iterate for success.

  • Tailored Brand Experience: Your first-party catering solution is more than a platform; it's a brand amplifier. Sculpt the narrative and experience, ensuring your brand remains at the forefront.

  • Profit Maximization: Direct orders usually mean augmented profit margins without the overheads of commissions.

  • Loyalty Building: With built-in loyalty, exclusive offers, and direct communication, first-party platforms transform occasional clients into brand ambassadors.

Driving Efficiency and Catering Guest Insights Through Rich Order Management Features

Beyond these perks, the underlying strength of first-party platforms is their adeptness in order management for catering and back-end functionality that will drive growth through efficiency, workflow, and access to information. In addition, investing in an enterprise order management system that is cloud-based will provide a shared experience with customers and centralize operations.  Delving into the core order management features offered by platforms such as Lunchbox, let’s talk about how catering software solutions can lead to stronger profits:


  • Location-based Analysis: With granular reporting, teams can monitor and analyze catering orders by location, helping to pinpoint high-performing areas and those needing attention.

  • Sales Insights: A deep dive into your sales metrics will offer a clearer understanding of peak sales times, popular menu items, and seasonal trends, enabling your team to make data-driven decisions and tailor your offerings.


  • Flexible Payment Options: Present dedicated clientele with the ease of house accounts, streamlining their order journey and promising continuous business.

  • Invoicing Efficiency: Sidestep tedious paperwork. Dispatch digital invoices swiftly, accelerating payments and trimming administrative clutter.

  • Accounting Benefits: Manage Accounts Receivables and collections.


  • Holistic Order Integrity: By leveraging prep sheets, catering teams can ensure every facet of an order, from main dishes to packaging, is accounted for. This not only guarantees customer satisfaction but also minimizes wastage.

  • Risk Reduction: Over-packing or under-packing can harm profitability and reputation. Prep sheets act as a safeguard against such pitfalls, ensuring optimal resource utilization.


  • Real-time Customer Connection: This call center tool isn't just about communication. It's about connection. Access guest order history, item-specific notes, and other details, ensuring every interaction is personalized and informed.

  • Issue Resolution: With immediate access to order details, teams can quickly address and resolve concerns, fostering trust and showing guests their value.


  • Delivery Dispatch: Simplify last-mile delivery tech, logistics, and operations and go commission-free with built-in dispatching

  • White-Glove Delivery: Make your brand stand out as a quality catering provider from the kitchen to the buffet table with direct integrations like DeliverThat, which provides fully branded, white-glove, last-mile delivery services. 

  • Seamless Guest Feedback: Integrate automated guest feedback workflows with catering services to unlock insights, identify issues, and gain opportunities for improvement at scale with Tattle

  • Call Center: Limit operation costs, reduce labor, and drive efficiencies with outsourced phone answering services like Lunchbox Call Center. 

First-party direct ordering platforms like Lunchbox Catering don't just facilitate transactions; they elevate the entire customer journey. Enterprise restaurants can transform every order into a lasting, profitable relationship by seamlessly blending robust order management tools with personalized engagement tactics and integrations.

The Bottom Line: Reaching Positive ROI Through Direct Channels

When considering the ROI of third-party vs. first-party channels, it may be no surprise that first-party is the more lucrative ordering channel. For example, the expected ROI on a solution like Lunchbox Catering is $9.30 versus a $1.50 ROI on third-party platforms. Furthermore, restaurants will see lower costs, higher monthly net revenue, and higher annual growth versus costs through first-party direct catering. Referencing the infographic below, it’s a no-brainer that operators should invest in direct ordering strategies for catering.

Symbiosis in Strategy: The Harmony of Third-Party and First-Party Platforms

So, how do these platforms work in tandem?

  • Attraction & Retention: Third-party platforms reel in potential customers. Your first-party channel then reinforces loyalty.

  • Smart Promotion: Harness insights from your direct platform to devise attractive deals on third-party channels. And vice versa: tempt marketplace customers to your platform with unique offers.

  • Operational Efficiency: Platforms like Lunchbox merge both channels flawlessly into your workflow, safeguarding consistent quality, inventory precision, and coherent brand messaging. Lunchbox Order Aggregation ensures all orders sync seamlessly into your Point of Sale (POS).

Effective Growth Strategies for Catering Services Using Both Platforms

Effectively marketing your services is paramount to standing out and securing corporate clientele. Let's delve into strategies that harness the power of third-party and first-party platforms that propel your catering services and grow sales.

  • Targeted Ad Campaigns: Use data insights from first-party platforms to create hyper-targeted ad campaigns through the various advertising channels on third-party platforms. Cater these ads towards corporate clients showcasing your restaurant’s unique selling points, such as custom menus or quick delivery times.

  • Content Marketing: Establish your restaurant as a thought leader in corporate catering by publishing blogs or articles on the intricacies of B2B catering, the importance of punctuality, or the diversity of your menu. Promote this content following orders on first-party via email.

  • Collaborative Partnerships: Partner with other businesses in the corporate sector. Offer special catering rewards to their employees in exchange for exclusive partnerships or testimonials.

  • Personalized Follow-ups: After delivering a catering order, ensure timely and relevant communication via personalized email or SMS. Ask about their experience, and show gratitude for their business. Automate personalized follow-ups at scale using a powerful email marketing tool like Lunchbox CRM

By integrating these tactics and strategies, restaurants can leverage the power of both third-party and first-party platforms, ensuring the growth of their catering sales and establishing long-lasting corporate relationships.

Conclusion: Dual Platform Strategies to Grow Catering Revenue

In conclusion, mastering the enterprise multi-unit restaurant catering realm means strategically harnessing third-party marketplace and first-party catering channels. By doing so, restaurants are positioned to significantly grow corporate catering sales and solidify their foothold in this competitive space. The fusion of restaurant technology, especially in order management, offers a streamlined approach to tackle operational challenges and seize growth opportunities. First-party catering becomes a pillar in cultivating lasting relationships and driving repeat business. With comprehensive catering solutions for enterprise restaurants, such as Lunchbox, the path to expanding sales and delivering impeccable service becomes not just a vision but an attainable reality.

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


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