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5 Ways to Retool Your Catering Business During COVID

Let’s not sugar coat it. The catering industry is struggling to find its bearings in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a record number of events are being postponed or outright canceled, revenue streams in the once billion-dollar catering industry have slipped precipitously since mid-March.

However, those in the catering business are accustomed to high-pressure situations. Caterers across the country are adapting and finding ways to repurpose their resources.

NACE’s business partner, Qwick, is plating an array of innovative catering ideas for you. Explore what catering during COVID looks like below!

How Catering Companies Can Survive the Pandemic

Like many areas of life, catering during COVID is not dead; it’s simply taking on new forms. Socially distance from declining profits with these five actionable COVID catering ideas.

1. Shift your target market

Large social gatherings are on hold for the time being. But corporations that are supporting essential workers may provide a market for your catering services. Grocery stores, shipping warehouses, medical clinics, and other necessary services remain open. Essential workers are clocking in longer hours and employers are looking for cost-effective ways to nourish the team.

The B2B catering market provides opportunities for catering companies to negotiate deals with local or larger scale businesses. For instance, Kroger placed a massive $50,000 catering order to feed 12,000 employees across Ohio at the start of the pandemic.

While this is an impressive feat, it’s safe to assume that most businesses will require slightly smaller orders. As in-house cafeterias have largely been pared down or cut completely, many businesses are looking for safe alternative food sources. Put your networking skills into action and form catering agreements with businesses in your area.

2. Take Your Services Outside

Catering during COVID means serving up wholesome food with an important ingredient—peace of mind. Unsurprisingly, consumers are hyper-aware of health these days. In addition to adhering to necessary sanitary measures, do what you can to put customers at ease.

One option is to set up a pop-up shop in an outdoor area. Medical experts report that virus transmission is less likely to happen in outdoor dining settings than in indoor dining rooms. If your catering company has a physical location, offering outdoor meals on-site is one path towards revenue and increased brand awareness in the area.

Renting a booth at the local farmer’s market is another option. This is a great locale for engaging with members of the community and meeting other small business owners. If the weather in your state allows you to take your catering business outdoors, take advantage of the opportunity.

3. Save on Staffing Costs

Next on the list of catering ideas during COVID is a money-saving step you’ll wish you found out about sooner.

For many catering companies, hiring full-time employees is out of the question. The unpredictable ebb and flow of catering jobs has only intensified due to the pandemic. Fortunately, on-demand staffing provides catering companies with first-rate employees at the touch of a button.

Qwick is the online staffing platform that gives employers the flexibility they need now more than ever. The easy-to-use app offers the ability to hire catering staff quickly when and where you need them. With a comprehensive candidate vetting process, Qwick allows only the top candidates to view and accept jobs on the platform.

Rather than scrambling to find help when you need it or incurring the costs of a full-time employee, opt for an innovative solution like Qwick.

4. Provide Grocery Delivery

In areas where product shortages leave consumers searching for necessities, you can fill the gap.

Leverage vendor relationships to secure food items, cleaning supplies, and other highly sought-after commodities. Package these into grocery bags and sell them as stand-alone bags or in conjunction with ready-to-eat meals prepared by your company. Slide a business card into each bag to increase the chances of households re-ordering.

Offering a grocery delivery service is a great option in areas with a large population of elderly individuals. High-risk individuals are more likely to refrain from trips out of the house. Plus, this allows you to put those catering vans to use.

For a dash of positive publicity, consider donating meals to a local nonprofit or giving back to the community. Massachusetts-based catering company M&J’s Taste of Home put its stimulus check towards an admirable cause. The caterers offered free drive-through meals to essential workers, earning them a spot in local news and thanks from grateful locals.

5. Partner with Food-Ordering Apps

Forget banquet halls and hotels. It’s time to focus on dining rooms and kitchen tables. If you can’t beat the food delivery apps, why not join them? Apply to be a partner restaurant and get your catering business in front of hungry households in your area.

Food apps such as Uber Eats and DoorDash bring a few key benefits to the table.

First, they allow you to utilize your own delivery staff. If you’d prefer to give the food delivery apps a smaller cut of the revenue, simply select the option indicating you’ll be providing the delivery services. Then, use your catering staff as delivery drivers.

Second, signing up for the services and getting all set up as a partner takes under a week. In other words, catering during Covid as a delivery service is an option that won’t take months to get up and running.

Help Your Catering Business Evolve for Tomorrow

Catering during COVID means thinking on your feet. Flexibility is a key element of success in the pandemic, and being part of the gig economy allows you to enhance this important trait.

With so many changes to navigate, Qwick is a constant companion for your catering business. With a 98% shift-fill rate, you can depend on this modern hiring solution. Simplify your staffing process and find workers in no time flat with Qwick.

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Harlee Mooney

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