Read my latest blog as seen on EzCater.com to help caterers get ready for the busy holiday season.
Should you hire a Catering Manager for your restaurant? If you want to grow your restaurant sales with catering, it's probably a good idea. For some tips check out my blog on ezCater.
One of your best customers just called and asked you to cater a graduation party at their house this weekend. Easy money, right? Not so fast! Make sure you don’t go broke catering off site because you forgot to update your insurance coverage.
“Many insurance policies written for restaurants have a Designated Premises Endorsement on the policy that generally does not provide you coverage if you go off site to cater an event.” says Steve DeMaster from
St. Louis based Crane Insurance Agency. “As part of an insurance review always makes sure this endorsement is thrown out and not a part of the policy.”
If you do decide you want to cater that off site event, it's important to be sure that your insurance coverage protects your staff members, clients, products and equipment when in transit and at other locations.
If catering is new to your operation, make a call your agent and have it in writing that you are doing some off site catering and want any riders added to your policy to make sure you are covered.
Off site catering comes with a separate set of risks in addition to those inherent in operating any food service business.
*Be sure that your property insurance policy covers others' property in your care, custody or control. If, for example, your equipment or one of your chafing dishes were to cause a fire at your customer’s residence, your policy should help cover the damage.
*You also need to be sure that your own business property, including catering equipment, is covered by property insurance at any location where your business may operate, as well as in storage or transit.
*Your risk of being sued over an incident at a separate location is equal to or greater than your risk of a lawsuit at your place of business. Because your employees may be operating in an unfamiliar environment, the risk of spills, trips, falls and burns are increased. For example, if one of your employees spills water at an event, one of the attendees could fall and be injured, resulting in a liability suit against your business. General liability and workman’s compensation insurance protects your business against such lawsuits, wherever they may arise.
*You must also make sure your workman’s compensations policy is in effect especially if one of your staff has a serious accident off site. If you do not have workman’s compensation coverage on your policy your client may end up having the medical claim on their policy and the customer in unlikely to ever call you back for catering.
*According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food poisoning is the most frequently reported restaurant injury. Food poisoning is a catchall phrase for various types of bacterial infections. Because of the delay between food preparation and when it is served, the risk of liability exposure increases with catering and delivery. Failing to maintain proper food temperatures in transit or on a buffet could result in food poisoning. General liability insurance protects your business against lawsuits associated with food poisoning.
*If your client asks you to serve or provide adult beverages you are at the same risk as any restaurant for liquor liability exposures. Even if the host provides the alcohol and your staff serves it, you and the host could be encumbered with a lawsuit if a guest is allowed to drink and drive and has a car accident. DeMaster recommends that if the host is very concerned about liabilities, the host can take out an event only policy to protect themselves.
*Whether you use your company owned vehicles or you have a staff member make a delivery in their personal vehicles, Steve DeMaster also recommends having a Hired Non Owned policy as part of your commercial auto insurance policy that covers any potential liability or damages to others' vehicles.
It’s great to incorporate catering into your restaurant business plan. Catering is a natural extension of owning a restaurant and it makes sense to build your customer base beyond your dining room by bringing your food to your customers. But, make sure you have the right insurance coverage so you don’t lose your shirt doing so.
If you are looking for insights on how to increase your sales by adding a catering division to your restaurant business plan, Steven Becker Hospitality Consulting can help you. Call for a free initial consultation and I will get you started the right way.
Touch the customer (at least 4 times) per visit. Make it a goal.
With so much ordering automation happening today a good operator has to ask are the days of no human interaction in hospitality really far off. Today you can order food at a popular fast casual restaurant without a human interaction or check into a nice hotel without talking to a soul.
No, we don’t really want you to actually touch the customer literally, but every good operator should have it in their guest services plan to touch a guest at least 4 times per visit. So how does this work?
There are many opportunities to make this happen. Every style of operator from fast food restaurants to hotels and every hospitality operation in between has an opportunity for a human being in your operation to interact with a guest.
Most common interactions are:
1. When a guests opens the door ( Hello, Welcome to ( insert name of business)
2. As a guest browses the menu or offerings ( Can I answer any questions on the menu for you?)
3. As the customer gets ready to order ( Can I suggest something today? )
4. When the food arrives ( Please let me know what else I can get for you. ) Maybe twice here.
5. When the customer gets up from their table ( Thank you for your visit today. )
6. And finally as the customer opens the door to leave ( Thank you for coming see you next time )
Every front of the house staff member has the opportunity to make a touch. Make sure your staff touches the customer!
Great First Impressions…Great Last Impressions Lead to Returning Guests…. Proper training is the key!
Does your restaurant have nice curb appeal? A well thought out locally sourced menu? Friendly staff? Amazing food? Great wait staff? But there is still a problem getting your customers back inside your door more than once. Perhaps you need to re-think your guests total experience from the moment they set foot inside your restaurant to when they walk out your door.
I recently paid a visit to a lovely, local sit-down dinner restaurant. It was a cold winter night and we walked in with heavy winter coats. We waited several minutes to be greeted. The hostess escorted us to our table. Only problem was what about our coats? They have a dedicated coat room, yet all the other guest’s coats were hanging on the back of their chairs with some half on the floor, half falling off the chair. I sat down and hung my coat on my chair, but somehow It just left a bad feeling for me that all the wonderful professional staff at the establishment let this happen. This was not a fast casual place and absolutely everything else was excellent. However, when we walked out the door there was no one to say goodbye or thank you.
First impressions are the most important and the problem is easy to solve. Proper Training is the key. Many restaurants put the newest staff member or part time hostess at the front door thinking this is the best way to integrate them into the dining culture of the operation. This is very true but they forget to explain to them just how important their role is. This person often is responsible for two of the Four Touches to guest for a successful restaurant business. More on my /blog/is-todays-technology-in-foodservice-really-doing-your-operation-a-service