Restaurant Catering Trends and the State of Office Workers Today

Restaurant Catering

MAR 28, 2023


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The catering industry has been experiencing the effects of inflations, with rising food costs and supply chain disruptions making it increasingly challenging for restaurant owners to maintain profitability. In addition, the pandemic and shift in the economy continues to change social trends and consumer behaviors, reshaping the industry. To stay competitive, owners must adapt and embrace innovative strategies to enhance customer experience and drive sales. In this article, we’re exploring emerging social trends that can help restaurant operators thrive in a challenging environment. 

A pulse on today’s industry

The shift in today’s restaurant industry and post-pandemic norms continues to reshape the industry, causing fear amongst restaurant owners for how this will affect their bottom line. Yet, shifts can open unique opportunities for the ones ready to adjust and catering is one example of that. 

Due to rising costs, America is seeing a decline in dining out. Yet, 60% of Americans are still ordering delivery at least once per week and, on average, spend 15% more on delivery than dine-in. This tells us that there is a desire to enjoy non-home cooked meals, but the economy has adjusted how we’re choosing to enjoy them.

Additionally, as workplaces prepare for the warning of a recession, focus has shifted away from employee growth to retention. Do you know what the number one driver is to encourage employees back to the office? Free food. This offers a huge opportunity for restaurants to expand. As more businesses look to grow and maintain office culture, they will be looking for recurring catering and you’ll want to be on that list. 

How incorporating group ordering will grow your catering sales

Traditionally, catering orders are pre-planned and tend to be at a larger scale. However, with the change of hybrid office culture, being flexible to how you look at catering can go a long way. There is a growing demand for small to medium group ordering because only up to half of the employee staff will be in the office at a time. Although these orders at first glance may not seem enticing because they’ll be at a lower average price point, don’t overlook their importance. For example, if your goal is to fulfill 500 orders a week, at an average order value of $20, you’re looking at a revenue total of $10,000. 

For catering, to attain that same revenue goal, you only have to fulfill 50 orders a week, at an average order value of $200, making it a no-brainer to incorporate this type of ordering to your guests.  

How to make your catering standout to workplaces

With 73% of remote companies expecting to return-to-office this year, the demand for workplace catering has increased, promoting 50% faster growth in the catering sector than the overall restaurant industry.

When offering catering to your guests, the guest experience and order flexibility should be top of mind. Tapping into the guest experience, operators should look to offer single site ordering, making the ordering process speak to the rest of your offerings. Look into using platforms like Lunchbox Catering 2.1, where you can suggest additional menu item pairings to add to your guest's cart before they checkout, promoting a higher check average.

Office managers need to support different dietary choices, food groups, and maintain health and safety. That means the more flexible you can be with your menu offerings, the more likely you’ll attract new customers. 

How this can look:

  • Dietary: Offer a few dishes that are easy to make dietary substitutions, with nested modifiers. For example, a rice bowl can have substitutions that cater to vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-intolerant diets.

  • Packaging: Having both large platters and individual plates/bowls will make a difference. Some workplaces will look for sustainable options, while others may need individual packaging to maintain health and safety protocols. 

  • Delivery radius: Consider managing your delivery radius based on the size of the order. You don’t want to lose out on a larger order just because it lies slightly outside your preferred radius. 

How sustainability will grow your audience 

Brand affinity is at an all time low because guests are changing how they buy. You will continue to see your guests more willing to order from your competitors if you don’t satisfy how their purchase represents their identity. Climate-consciousness is one of those needs many consumers are trying to satisfy and climate-aware restaurants will begin to out-perform their counterparts, attracting a broader customer base. 

What does this look like? Restaurants doing this well, have taken the time to understand the environmental impact their restaurant has, from ingredient sourcing to packaging waste. But note, changes are not done overnight. Start small and grow thoughtfully. These are changes customers expect to stay and make a difference, not to groom a trendy idea. 

Final Thoughts

As an expected 73% of remote companies start inviting their employees back into the office, we look at this as the best time for restaurants to upgrade their order offerings. With catering growing 50% faster than all other sectors, restaurants can approach this increase in demand with a tool kit of best-in-class strategies to establish their restaurant as the go-to catering provider in the area.

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