Unifying from top to bottom
From marketing and operations to R&D and HR, catering touches everybody in a restaurant business, and it’s important that leadership across the organization develops the processes necessary to ensure seamless operations.
“If you don’t have everybody on board, then it’s likely to be a flop,” Parker says.
Spurred by unified buy-in from Fazoli’s leadership that has trickled down throughout the business and into some 220 stores, catering at the Lexington, Kentucky–based chain has been growing at a double-digit clip in recent years. The chain has allocated various resources to build awareness of its catering program, evolved the menu, researched different packaging options, and invested in dedicated catering specialists at each restaurant.
“When our leadership really dug in and got the group moving together, we saw activity immediately,” says Jennifer Crawford, Fazoli’s director of off-premises sales.
Investing in people
As director of sales marketing at Zoës Kitchen from 2013 to 2016, Parker oversaw a catering program that grew from $10 million to $50 million in three years. She attributes that climb to a proactive sales team that “dialed for dollars” on phone calls, held tastings for corporate administrators, developed relationships with event organizers, and provided an otherwise hassle-free program.
“At the end of the day, this is a relationship business, and people like having a person there committed to making sure it all goes well,” Parker says.
It’s a model that others have adopted.
Earlier this year, Melt Shop, an 11-unit fast casual based in New York City, brought on a catering director tasked to develop relationships with local businesses and event venues and oversee operational excellence.
“It’s a sales role that also becomes operational in making sure that the food and experience are right,” Melt Shop founder and CEO Spencer Rubin says.